JUDGE PARKERMedium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Publishers Syndicate
First Appeared: 1952
Creator: Nicholas P. Dallis
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Judge Parker. Dallis, a psychiatrist, was perfectly qualified to educate people about medicine, but Parker is about the law. Maybe Dallis simply found he liked writing comic strips. (Bolstering that theory is the fact that a few years later, he created a third, Apartment 3-G.)
Dallis used a pen name, "Paul Nichols", in scripting Parker. His artistic partner this time was Dan Heilman, who served stints as assistant to Roy Crane on Buz Sawyer and Ken Ernst on Mary Worth before handling this one on his own. Heilman generally used the photo-realistic style that was standard in postwar soap opera strips, such as The Heart of Juliet Jones and Mary Perkins On Stage, but occasionally lapsed into a somewhat more cartoon-like rendition. Publishers Syndicate (Tales from the Great Book) launched the strip in 1952.
Alan Parker is, as the title implies, a judge. He started out as a widower, but has since remarried. He has two children from his first marriage. He is a stable, serious man who does his job well and doesn't get involved in flamboyant hijinks. For these reasons, he was gradually eased out of the position of lead character, starting in the 1960s when hot young attorney Sam Driver was added to the cast. Nowadays, the main characters of the strip are Sam, his client and lover Abby Spencer, and Abby's adopted daughters, Neddy and Sophie.
Heilman left the strip in 1965, hoping to get a new one going, trendily set in outer space. But he died in December 1966, at the very untimely age of 44, before the new one got off the ground. His successor on Parker was Harold LeDoux, who began signing the strip on July 5, 1965. Dallis retired in 1990, handing the full script-writing job (along with that of Rex Morgan) over to his assistant, Woody Wilson, who writes it today. Dallis died a year later. LeDoux continued to draw it until his retirement in 2006. Eduardo Barretto, whose resumé includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other DC Comics characters, began drawing it on June 4 of that year..
Even Publishers Syndicate is no more. Judge Parker is now syndicated by King Features, which distributes it to about 175 newspapers — not a spectacular circulation, but enough to ensure that Parker will be sitting on the bench for years to come.