"Judge Parker has a theme of caring about people and of life as it used to be -- of virtue rewarded," says a fan of more than 20 years in Atlanta. Judge Parker was created in 1952 by psychiatrist Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis, the originator of two other successful "soap-opera" comic strips, Rex Morgan, M.D. and Apartment 3-G. The strip chronicles the lives -- in and out of the courtroom - of Judge Alan Parker, Sam Driver and Abbey Spencer. With its true-to-life storylines, drama and suspense, Judge Parker has kept readers in 175 newspapers nationwide hooked.
Woody Wilson's cartooning career began in San Francisco in 1978 after a chance meeting with the late James Andrews, co-founder of Universal Press Syndicate. Wilson was a freelance writer, working part-time in an art gallery, and Andrews was in San Francisco giving a speech to an association of Bay Area cartoonists. Andrews ventured into the gallery following his speech.
"It was raining, and we just sat in one of the viewing rooms and talked about comic strips," Wilson recalls. "I told Mr. Andrews that I had always wanted to write a comic strip but could never find an artist to work with me." At that point, Andrews opened his wallet and took out a scrap of paper. Written on the paper was the name and number of Pete Guren, a Cleveland-based cartoonist who was looking to collaborate with a writer. Andrews suggested that Wilson call Guren with an idea for a new comic.
"Meeting Jim Andrews changed everything," Wilson says. "He put me on an unwavering course that would take me through the rest of my professional life."
After several weeks of brainstorming, Wilson called Guren and pitched his idea for a comic strip about a modern working woman with a downwardly mobile househusband. Guren liked the concept, and they started work on The Little Company.
"Like every other comics collaborative team, Pete and I were positive we had a winner," Wilson says. "We worked on the strip for nearly a year, but Universal rejected it – twice."
In 1981, Wilson put his bid for syndication on hold and accepted a reporter's job in the features department of The Phoenix Gazette. After a year in Arizona, he began the search for a new comic artist to continue work on his strip. In the process, he met Dr. Nicholas Dallis, creator and writer of Rex Morgan, M.D., Judge Parker and Apartment 3-G.
After an eight-year association with Dallis, Wilson assumed the job of writing Judge Parker and Rex Morgan, M.D. in August 1990, when his mentor became too ill to keep up the demanding regime of writing three comic strips.
Mike Manley was born in Detroit and has been a working comic book professional since the age of 23. His powerful and expressive drawings, dynamic inks and strong story telling skills have made him an in-demand artist for some of comic's top titles for all of the major publishers.
In 1984, Manley moved to Philadelphia and started working for Marvel and DC comics. He finally landed at Marvel with the popular Transformers comic and quickly moved on to other established characters such as Conan and Spider-Man. In 1990, Manley co-created and drew the character Darkhawk for Marvel.
Manley moved back to DC Comics in 1993 and became the regular artist on their most popular character, Batman, starting with the 500th issue which sold 2 million copies. Mike drew the book at the height of the character's popularity. While at DC, Manley added Superman and Shazam to his roster of work. In 1995, he formed Action Planet Inc. to publish his own comics and ideas.
In 1996, Manley broke into the animation field and joined the staff at Warner Bros., doing storyboards and background designs from his home in Philadelphia on the highly successful Kids WB "Superman," "Batman" and the new smash hit, "Batman Beyond" animated TV shows. He has also worked on "Samurai Jack," "Fairly Odd Parents," "Batman Brave and Bold," "Secret Saturdays," "Venture Brothers," Kim Possible, and "Clerks".
In 2001, Manley started his twice Eisner Award-nominated Draw! Magazine and teaches storyboarding, drawing and cartooning classes at The University of the Arts and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he is currently finishing his MFA in Painting.
Alan Parker was created in 1952 by Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis as the leading man for his second comic strip, Judge Parker. During the 1950s, Alan Parker was the dashing professional man who spent more time solving crimes and chasing felons than he did sitting on the bench. He is a widower with two children, Randy and Ann. He later remarried a beautiful,younger woman named Katherine. Judge Parker is in his late 50s. During the 1960s, Dr. Dallis felt that Alan Parker was becoming a little too distinguished to be chasing crooks, so he introduced another handsome leading man, attorney Sam Driver. For the past few decades readers have seen little of Judge Parker. However, current writer Woody Wilson has reintroduced him as a lead character and fans will see much more of His Honor in the future.
Attorney extraordinaire, Sam Driver has been the central male character in Judge Parker since 1963. He is approximately 33 years old, handsome, smart and sensitive, and he's also a trained investigator. His relationship to the beautiful and wealthy Abbey Spencer is that of a lover, confidant and soul mate. He is also her trusted attorney and the administrator of her adopted daughters' considerable estates. In recent years, it has been obvious that Sam and Abbey are deeply in love, for their relationship was always implied. And even though they are not married, they share the parental responsibility of raising Neddy and Sophie. Of all the lead characters created by Dr. Dallis, Sam Driver has the most keen sense of humor. His wry, dry wit belies his no-nonsense attorney's demeanor.
Abbey Spencer is rich! Mega-rich! She was created in the early 1960s by Dr. Nick Dallis to liven up Judge Parker. Sam Driver, then the new leading man, needed a suitable girlfriend, and Abbey was just the ticket. She owns Spencer Farms, a thoroughbred horse farm that she inherited when her father died. She's beautiful, poised, slightly spoiled, temperamental and elegantly sexy. In past years, Abbey had a tendency toward self-absorption, but that all changed when she adopted Neddy and Sophie. The girls opened deeper dimensions of Abbey's personality ... dimensions that surprised even Abbey.
Introduced in 1993, Neddy and Sophie Spencer have become important for a couple of reasons. First, they add a youthful dimension to a feature dominated by adult characters - Neddy is the beautiful, volatile young woman, and Sophie is the sensitive and sensible teenager. Secondly, their high-spirited characters allow Sam and Abbey to become closer and more realistic as people. Both girls were homeless when they were discovered several years ago living with their grandfather on Abbey Spencer's rambling estate. Their grandfather, Ezra, was a tough old goat and tried his best to provide for his granddaughters despite losing everything. When Abbey and Sam found Ezra and the girls living beside a wooded creek on a remote section of her property, Abbey decided to take them in. She gave Ezra a job and provided them a place to live until they could find a suitable house. But one day while working in the barn Ezra had a heart attack and died, leaving the girls alone and destitute. Abbey stepped in and offered the girls a place to live. It was not an easy transition for anyone. After a period of emotional turmoil, Abbey and the girls began to bond. Neddy, as the rebellious teen-ager, was always at odds with Abbey. In time, Abbey's warmth and sincerity won the girls over and she decided to adopt them. In the meantime, Sam discovered Neddy and Sophie were rich in their own right. A rich uncle, Ezra's estranged brother, had left them both sizable fortunes. Neddy is a talented artist with a promising future.
Sophie is a straight-A student and rarely misbehaves. As the younger sister, Sophie is constantly trying to step out of her popular sister's shadow.