Eduardo Barreto

Luis Eduardo Barreto Ferreyra (also known as Eduardo Barreto) was born in Montevideo, Uruguay on the 1st of March, 1954. Growing up on Calaguala Street in the district of Sayago, Eduardo’s passions included soccer (his favorite team being ‘Club Nacional de Football’, or simply ‘Nacional’) and comic books. At an early age, he had ambitions to become a comic strip artist.

At the age of 16, the self-taught Eduardo wrote and illustrated his first story for a children’s magazine, El Día de los Niños published by Uruguayan based publisher, El Dia. The story he created is based on a well known classic Spanish poem titled ‘Canar de Mio Cid’ (translating to ‘The Lay of the Cid).

In 1975, at the age of 22, United Press International bought Eduardo’s original science fiction and space warfare themed comic strip titled El Poderoso Halcón (translating to ‘The Mighty Hawk’). This opportunity saw his work being published across Latin America in up to 17 newspapers.

Eduardo would travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina to leave some of his art with publishing house Editorial Columbia, before returning back to Montevideo to continue working with El Dia, alongside working with advertising agencies to supplement his income. Eduardo would marry and later be the father of Diego (comic book illustrator), Andrea (comic book colorist) and Guillermo (comic book inker and illustrator). He would travel back to Argentina and revisit Editorial Columbia, who informed him that a letter of employment was mailed to him but no reply was received. The letter had unfortunately been posted to an old address of Eduardo, and wasn’t received.

Eduardo would work on comic strips for Editorial Columbia for approximately 3 years on a variety of locally created comic book characters, in a range of positions, including as a penciler and a ghost artist. As Eduardo had his sights on bigger and greater ambitions, he would turn his attention to the US upon advice from his editor.

Arriving in New York City, USA in 1979, he commenced work with Marvel Comics as an inker on Marvel Team-Up, with his first work for Marvel Comics published in December 1979 within edition number 88, featuring Spider-Man and the Invisible Girl. Eduardo spent several months in New York City, completing work for other large publishing houses such as DC Comics and Western Publishing, before returning back to Uruguay.

He would return to the US in 1983, predominately working for DC comics for the Uruguayan comic book market, becoming one of the best known local imports due to his recognizable style of illustrating, even earning the title of ‘Uruguayan Batman Artist’ by his many fans. Amongst the titles/series he worked on as an artist, include Atari Force (from 1984 thru to 1985), The New Teen Titans (from 1985 thru to 1988), The Shadow Strikes (from 1989 thru to 1990) and Martian Manhunter: American Secrets (in 1992). He even managed to illustrate a He-Man story book in 1985 plus work on cover art for comic book characters including Superman, Green Arrow, The Flash, Batman and Star Trek, alongside his existing stable of work.

There seemed to be no shortage of work for Eduardo in the 1990s, with big name publishing houses recognizing his amazing work and talent. Dark Horse Comics would commission him to illustrate a variety of big title comic books, including household names such as Indiana Jones, Alens v Predator and Star Wars. For DC Comics, he worked on Superman, Justice League Quarterly and Sgt. Rock, just to name a few.

The same furious pace continued for Eduardo in the 2000s, working on a variety of comic book titles for publishers such as Claypool Comics, Oni Press, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Moonstone Books, Dark Horse, DC Comics and Boom! Studios. 

King Features Syndicate would eventually employ Eduardo in May of 2006, to work on their syndicated newspaper comic strip, Judge Parker, taking over from illustrator Harold LeDoux, with the first comic strip by Eduardo going to print on the 29th of May, 2006. Unfortunately a near-fatal car accident in Uruguay would cut his time on the Judge Parker comic strips short, with Graham Nolan illustrating for a week before John Heebing would carry on.

Eduardo would recover from his car accident and return to illustrating Judge Parker in January 2007. In February 2010, Eduardo fell gravely ill with Meningitis (an inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord), with King Features Syndicate handing over the comic strip work to one of his sons, Diego Barreto. Diego illustrated Judge Parker thru till the 15th of February, before John Heebing was re-employed. Eduardo would again return to work on the comic strip following his recovery a month later. Commencing with the comic strip published on the 15th of March 2010, Mike Manley would become the comic strip artist for Judge Parker.

Eduardo was continually keeping active in the comic book industry, both in Uruguay and USA, illustrating both story books and comics as commissioned by publishing houses. He also conducted comic book classes at Uruguay’s largest private university, Universidad ORT Uruguay and attended comic book conventions.

We would first see Eduardo’s work on the Phantom in the 174th Sunday comic strip for King Features Syndicate in 2011, titled ‘The Nomad’. Written by Tony DePaul, the comic strip was published in newspapers from the 27th of March, thru till the 18th of September, 2011. The Sunday comic strip commenced being illustrated by Paul Ryan from the 27th of March thru till the 24th of July, however Paul was retired from Sunday comic strips by King Features Syndicate to solely focus on the Daily Phantom comic strip. Eduardo was given the task to completing the Sunday comic strip mid-way, from the 31st of July thru till the 18th of September, 2011. The comic strip is colored by Tom Smith and Eduardo’s daughter, Andrea Barreto.

Eduardo would commence work on his second Sunday Phantom comic strip, number 175, titled ‘The Shadows of Rune Noble’ directly following ‘The Nomad’ as noted above. Written by Tony DePaul, the comic strip was published in our newspapers from the 25th of September, 2011 thru till the 1st of April, 2012. We have 3 comic strip artists contribute their talent, first Eduardo from the 25th of September, 2011 thru till the 8th of January, 2012. Then Paul Ryan for 2 weeks from the 15th of January thru till the 22nd of January, 2012. Terry Beatty would complete the comic strip from the 29th of January thru till the 1st of April, 2012. The comic strip is colored by Terry Beatty, Tom Smith and Eduardo’s daughter, Andrea Barreto. Terry Beatty would go on illustrating Sunday Phantom comic strips for 5 years, thru till Jeff Weigel replaced him in 2017.

Unfortunately Eduardo passed away whilst illustrating his second Sunday Phantom comic strip story noted above, ‘The Shadows of Rune Noble’, hence for the need to replace him midway through the comic strip. He tragically died in hospital of Meningitis on the 15th of December, 2011 aged 57 at Montevideo, Uruguay.

Eduardo Barreto & The Phantom

Eduardo Barreto joining the comic strip team was a masterful move by King Features Syndicate. More specifically, Eduardo working on the Phantom and the Sunday strip in print at the time was a stroke of genius.

With Paul Ryan retired from illustrating the remainder of the 174th Phantom Sunday strip ‘The Nomad’, to focus on his Daily Phantom strip work, it certainly wouldn’t have been easy for Eduardo to come in mid-way through and continue the art in a seamless transition. Regardless, we as the comic strip reader initially notice very little taking place with the new incoming artist.

However, when looking closely, subtle differences start to appear between the two artists, almost taking place immediately. We see a sudden drop in the use of heavy boarders around each panel, not to also mention the rigidity of the structure of the panels on a page, synonymous with Paul’s work. Eduardo softens his panel boarders, or even drops them completely in several instances. I find that as a reader, my eye is drawn to the story and art at play in a more holistic way and allows me to devour the pages with better flow.

We also start to see more blacked-out areas in panels illustrated by Eduardo, with more emphasis on areas where the light isn’t so soft. Eduardo tends to black-out clothing to a large degree. Is this possibly a time saving initiative he utilizes, giving him more time to work on other areas within a panel? After all, his strengths are considered to be detailed background work, especially Jungle scenes.

The Phantom himself seems to transform slightly with Eduardo’s illustrations, possibly due to his longstanding work with other comic book heroes and catering for a certain audience. The Phantom takes on a more muscular physique and starts to appear ‘darker’ (not so much from an artistic point of view, but in his demeanor, not smiling at all, even though we see several panels by Paul showing the Phantom smiling and even laughing earlier in ‘The Nomad’ storyline).

Eduardo’s follow-up story is the 175th Sunday Phantom story ‘The Shadows of Rune Noble’. Affectionately, Eduardo has cleverly inserted the Phantom’s creator, Lee Falk into the introductory of the story, presenting the ‘For Those Who Came In Late’, a brief prologue of the story ahead, a nice nod to Lee by Tony DePaul (script writer) and Eduardo which I’m sure Lee would of found very satisfying. It’s akin to Stan Lee making brief appearance in his Marvel movies; however this creative inclusion occurred in 2011.

Eduardo’s years of experience shine through again in this Sunday Phantom comic strip. We see amazing details in not only his background scenes but also in the way he depicts wildlife, tribesman and uniformed soldiers. His perception to understand shadows is evident, especially in the scene where the Wambesi chieftain is being addressed in his village by the unwelcome soldiers, as can be seen below. 

We see the Phantom in the early part of the story in disguise as a soldier, with the Phantom not making an appearance in his ‘usual’ costume until week 10. We see an amazing panel illustrated by Eduardo where by the Phantom is reading from a chronicle on his skull throne, explaining to Kit the origins and mythos of the Phantom (see below). Eduardo encapsulates beautifully the attack on his ancestor’s ship and being washed ashore on a Bangali shore. This panel alone highlights not only Eduardo’s appreciation of the Phantom and his long standing heritage (passing the mantle from father to son specifically), but it also gives us a window into his mastery of comic strip illustration.

Phantom phans are lucky to see Eduardo’s work at its peak of his illustrious career in the ‘The Shadows of Rune Noble’. He would unfortunately not have the opportunity to finish it, falling ill with Meningitis, tragically passing away on the 15th of December, 2011 aged 57 at Montevideo, Uruguay.

Eduardo’s legacy in Phantom comic strip history would see him work on 2 Sunday Phantom comic strips, with each occurrence not completing the comic strip illustrations from start to finish. He did however leave an enduring impression on the Phantom and his phans, leaving us to wonder to what heights he would have taken the Phantom if his tenure with King Features Syndicate was much longer.