Shortly after I posted my last comment about the Phantom comic strip, I found out that Eduardo Barreto had passed away. Barreto was an amazingly talented illustrator. Like many, I first became aware of his art through his work on DC's Teen Titans.
I've written before about his work on the comic strip Judge Parker.
His dynamic comic-book style and imaginative compositions (not to
mention the way he drew women) revitalized the strip. His art was the
perfect accompaniment to the change in direction the writing had taken,
and together Barreto and Woody Wilson pushed Judge Parker into the 21st century.
Illness forced him to give up his duties. Eventually he returned to the field doing the Sunday sequences for The Phantom. The Phantom
continues the practice many adventure strips maintained of running one
story during the week, and different story in the Sunday sections.
acknowledge the work of this master, let's take a closer look at the
last two sequences published before the announcement of Barreto's death.
Although it only takes a moment to read, Barreto's craft in telling a
story in pictures is worth a second look. (click on image to enlarge)
this sequence, note the simple, but effective placement of panels. The
top panel sets the scene (Africa) and gives us the two main characters
-- the Phantom (in disguise) and Shadow Team leader.
next panel shows us the Wambesi chief talking with the men. Note the
line going from the Phantom's head to the chief's. It's going upwards
from left to right, drawing the eye from the speakers of the request
(the team leader, through the interpreter) to the receiver of the
request (the chief). Note also that the figure of the chief is not only
set higher in the frame, but also apart from the other figures, which
are grouped together. This isolation and elevation shows his authority.
the left lower panel, Barreto depicts the reaction to the team leader's
words. The Phantom is at left, with all of the Wambesi to the right of
him. The eye (always moving left to right) reads his thoughts, and then
naturally move to the reactions he's worried about.
final panel is a real tour-de-force. Barreto pulls back and gives us
the Phantom in the exact center of the picture. The team leader and
chief are still in their relative positions, so we know where we are.
The village is full of detail, but not so much that it clutters the
panel. And notice that there's an overall motion to the image. There's
still the diagonal line running from the Phantom to the chief, extending
downward through the two warriors in red (and don't think it an
accident that only those two figures are clad in that eye-catching
In front of him is a curved enclosure. The eye
moves up the implied line from red warriors to the chief, and come back
down and follow the curved line of the enclosure, then pull right to
read the word balloon.
Every line is there for a purpose, and the purpose is to further the story.
Tomorrow we'll look at the final panel published before Barreto's death.