Monday, July 07, 2008
Obscurity of the Day: Judge Wright
Judge Wright was a short-lived strip that never really found its identity. This strip about a city judge who gets personally involved in his cases flounders around between the soap opera and adventure genres. Apparently the police and prosecutors in Judge Wright's domain were all utter idiots because the judge felt it necessary to constantly go out and track down the real miscreants, because it seemed the suspects brought before him were all wrongly accused.
Judge Wright had its roots in comic books -- all the creators involved were funnybook vets. The strip was credited during most of the run to Bob Brent and Bob Wells, neither of whom actually existed. The writer was actually Robert Bernstein who had worked on the Crime Does Not Pay comic book. The first artist was Bob Fujitani, whose Japanese name was perhaps wisely unused since the strip premiered on September 10 1945, a scant few months after the end of the war.
Fujitani's art might have been fine for comic books, but on the comics page his oddball camera angles, film noir inking and often mangled anatomy looked out of place. It probably didn't help that, as Ron Goulart tells us in The Funnies, Fujitani was unhappy with the pay -- which is saying a lot when you figure the slave rates paid at the comic books.
Fujitani called it quits in December 1946 and was replaced by Fred Kida, another comic book artist. Kida soldiered on with the strip, also lending the proceedings a decidedly comic-bookish air, until June 10 1947. I guess his experience on Judge Wright really soured Kida on newspaper comics -- his next credited appearance in the medium would not be for another thirty-five years, when he'd do a stint on the Amazing Spider-Man strip.
George Roussos replaced Kida, yet another comic book guy. He lasted until February 21 1948. The last few months of the strip, which ended on April 3, had no one taking credit for the art, but whoever did it was able to do a plausible, if rush-looking, simulation of Roussos' distinctively chiselled characters.