I have a confession: I read the comics.
And not just the cool comics, like “Pearls Before Swine,” “Pearls Before Swine” and “Pearls Before Swine.” I read every single strip that appears in my local newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In fact, the comics page is one of the main reasons I still subscribe to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, despite the fact that there’s only one page of comics now (down from two full pages in the ’90s) and they still carry “The Lockhorns.” (On the other hand, they’re running “Peanuts” strips from the late ’60s, a golden age for Charles M. Schulz.)
(Note: Yes, I know I can read a whole ton of them online. Yes, I know there are lots of oddball independent strips that would never make a major metropolitan newspaper — or even the New York Press in its glory years, which is where I discovered “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.” Sometimes we just like to remember things the way they were, when we were 11 and the comics page was the best part of the whole morning.)
Among the comics I read: “Judge Parker.”
Now, I would never confuse “Judge Parker” with high quality. It’s a soap opera strip, better than “Mary Worth” (which is not part of the AJC comics page anymore) and “Mark Trail” but still stupid, with impossibly good-looking men, surprisingly buxom women and no cares beyond horses, rock bands and poor RV driving.
And yet I keep reading.
(T)his July King Features kindly decided to not learn from their mistake and gave me the writing duties for the long-running comic Judge Parker. I am extremely excited, very grateful, and more than a little anxious about taking the strip forward (and I mean that literally, since we will indeed see the next morning).
That’s the unpronounceable Francesco Marciuliano, who has a healthy sense of humor about the whole business. He’s going to be taking on the writing duties for “Judge Parker.” Mike Manley will continue doing the art.
Marciuliano has some interesting ideas and is refreshingly candid about them:
Let’s be frank but by no means dismissive. There are presently
a shit ton a metric shit tona healthy number of A, B, and C plots running concurrently. And it is imperative to both honor and resolve those very plots, in complete respect to Woody Wilson’s longtime work in the strip and every reader who has invested their time following those very narratives. As for new directions, after about a month you may have a feel for where we’re going. Within two to three months you’ll know far more. Or we could just destroy everything save the stable and start fresh with a Gulliver’s Travels-inspired comic about talking horses called The Houyhnhnms. Oh, wait until they go on and on about golf.
And the cast?
Some new characters will be introduced. Some ancillary characters will be phased out. And some major characters will experience great tests. Like I mentioned, the drama is all about facing the obstacles on the road to triumph or tragedy. Or as I said to Judge Parker artist Mike Manley during our first phone call, “You draw a preternaturally attractive cast of characters. Too bad they won’t be so pretty after the fire.” (Note because I realize I need to make said note: No one will burn in a fire.)
Oh, please, Francesco. Don’t not have a fire on my account. I mean, Neddy got away without killing anyone in that RV — and she’s met the hunk of her dreams. Let’s mix things up, please.
Hmm. Perhaps they could run into Mary Worth?
(h/t to the Readers of the Comics Curmudgeon Facebook page.)