[Note: This Tuesday-evening post has been updated with more details on Mike Manley and Eduardo Barreto.]
On Tuesday, word comes that it's more than a monthlong gig: Manley is officially the new permanent artist for "Judge Parker," according to the strip's writer, Woody Wilson.
"It was a short list" of candidates, Wilson tells Comic Riffs by phone from Tempe. He and King Features -- particularly comics editor, Brendan Burford -- looked at several people. Artistically, he says of Manley, "It's going to be Eduardo all over again."
Eduardo, of course, is "Judge Parker" artist Eduardo Barreto. Comic Riffs broke the news this month that Barreto was "gravely ill" with meningitis and that he would be unable to continue drawing the strip.
Manley's artwork is scheduled to grace "Judge Parker" by mid-March. Wilson said for him, the decision "was a no-brainer."
The Philadelphia-based Manley co-created the Marvel Comics character Darkhawk in the early '90s. He's also drawn for Captain America, Marvel Universe, Quasar, Batman and The Power of Shazam! He created and edits Draw! magazine, and has also worked on such TV projects as "Samurai Jack" and "The New Batman Adventures."
This is the artist's first foray into comic strips, says Wilson, who notes that Manley came touted by Wilson's "Rex Morgan, M.D." artist, Graham Nolan. "What Graham recommends carries a lot of weight with us," the writer says.
"It'll take a little while to make the strip his own," Wilson says of the Detroit native, "but I think he's already well on his way."
Adds Wilson: "I like his attitude. I look for someone who has the same passion for the continuity strips that I do. ... He's jazzed about it and we're jazzed about it."
As for Barreto, Wilson says he recently spoke to the Uruguay resident "and there was no chance he was coming back." The artist is going to spend the South American summer convalescing, the writer says.
"I know Eduardo has received hundreds of e-mails from people wishing him well," Wilson says. "I've been in this business a very long time, and it's rare you see this kind of outpouring and affection for a comic-strip artist. It takes you back to the old days. People really respect the work and the effort and the details.
"It really is neat for me to be able to say that I worked with Eduardo Barreto. He's the best in our business ... and I expect by late in the year, he'll be back [drawing in some capacity]. He just has to get well again."