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#601930 - 03/04/13 03:52 PM Ordway on Ageism
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Registered: 05/08/00
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Here, read this blog entry:

http://ordstersrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/03/life-over-fifty.html


I'll briefly touch on the subject of Ordway's self-assessment that his work is "still sharp." While I never disliked his work, I rarely loved it (most often his inks over someone else's pencils). He's one of the better ones influenced by Neal Adams, in that he didn't slavishly copy Neal Adams and not reference from life some times, but the net result usually comes off a bit squishy. Technically superb but emotionally mediocre.

What I want to call to your specific attention, however, is something else that Ordway must be painfully oblivious to in the arc of his life. Notice how many times he says he "poured his heart and soul" into corporate owned properties. Crappy ones like the "Shazam" reboot and the Death of Superman. Then also notice he doesn't even mention his attempt at a creator-owned property, Wildstar, which was really just another example of Ordway's forté, the generic spandex superhero. He must revel in the notion of being a cog, of simply following in the footsteps of his predecessors and copying not only their creative content but also their mistakes in business.

Let's be clear here — when you use your artistic talent/skill to make yourself a disposable commodity, that is what you will be. Had he instead spent his energy at a non-creative job, he'd at least have a pension by now.

Note down in the comments Roger Langridge "wishes he was doing another Rocketeer series" so he could get Ordway to draw it. I had such high hopes for that guy.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
— Bob Kane

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#601931 - 03/05/13 05:09 PM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
I'm a longtime Jerry Ordway fan, going back to the early 1980s when he was Roy Thomas' go-to artist for DC's Earth 2 comics, like ALL-STAR SQUADRON and INFINITY INC. He has a strong, clean style as a penciller, inker or both.

My only minor quibble would be that his people sometimes look a little static -- more like action figures than people in fluid motion -- which made him a better choice for covers. But I'd buy a Jerry Ordway comic before I'd buy most comics on the shelf today.

I understand what you're saying, Allen. Your old friend Erik Larsen has made a similar point: How can any comics pro be surprised when he's shoved aside, given that he was working on corporate-owned franchises and given that this fate has befallen three generations of comics pros? Or as Erik puts it, if they fucked Jack Kirby, you think you're gonna get a break?

However -- I'm sympathetic. When Ordway came into the comics industry, the game was mostly DC and Marvel, period, if you wanted to make a decent living. Outliers like Dave Sim doing their own books were just that -- outliers. So Ordway went along for the ride and plied his trade, being popular and in demand right up to the point that he wasn't anymore.

It's easy for us to sit on the sidelines and say, "Hey, get off your duff and go create your own comics and market them and see if you can license them for TV and movies! Be the next Robert Kirkman!" But the last Robert Kirkman was in his 20s when he did his thing, not approaching old age, with a family and mortgage. If Ordway can't afford to slog away now for $9,000 a year for several years in hopes of making a success, I understand that.

Incidentally, Herb Trimpe wrote a similar essay a dozen years ago after Marvel fired him during its 1990s financial turmoil. Keep in mind that, around this same time, Scott Lobdell was making $85,000 a month for drawing X-MEN. And I'd say Trimpe is worth four or five Scott Lobdells in that Trimpe actually can draw things.

Anyway, if it wasn't clear to guys in Trimpe's generation or guys in Ordway's, let the message ring clear to eager young artists sending their submissions to DC and Marvel today: You almost certainly will not make a career of that. Save your money, have a Plan B and consider doing your own comics.

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#601932 - 03/06/13 10:04 AM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: Lawson]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
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Loc: Lexington, Ky.
On Jerry Ordway's blog, he says some people are giving him a hard time because he and John Byrne displaced veteran artist Curt Swan on the Superman comics in 1986. Turnabout is fair play, then, these folks suggest.

Ordway acknowledges there is truth in this criticism. But DC continued to throw a little work at Swan, including an Aquaman mini-series and licensed property designs, he says. Also, Swan was a little older -- around 65, at the traditional retirement age -- and not still in his 50s, Ordway says.

Still. Wikipedia says Swan was financially unprepared for his abrupt retirement, and as a result, he suffered through an awful final decade, including a drinking problem and the end of his marriage. Swan ended up drawing pornographic Superman spoofs for Penthouse.

Again, the lesson is anyone who works for DC or Marvel is disposable, always, no matter how talented they are or how much great work they've produced. For 99 percent of the talent at the Big Two, there will come the day when you are kicked to the curb.

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#601933 - 03/06/13 12:20 PM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: Allen Montgomery]
MBunge Offline
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Registered: 07/19/01
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Loc: Waterloo, Iowa, United States
Ditko got a regular penciling job from Marvel in 1988 when he was 61 and I believe got some freelance work from Marvel and DC well into the 90s. Roy Thomas got hired by Marvel to do comic adaptations of classic novels in the 2000s when Roy was over 60. I don't think either happened because the fans were demanding it.

But it's usually true that when you work for someone else, big corporation or otherwise, you can get a steady paycheck but be disposed of when it suits your boss. When you work for yourself, you're in control of your own destiny but might not ever make a living at it.

Mike


Edited by MBunge (03/06/13 12:20 PM)

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#601934 - 03/06/13 01:06 PM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: MBunge]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
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Loc: Lexington, Ky.
I'm glad to hear your stories about Steve Ditko and Roy Thomas.

Sometimes there are human beings making these decisions.

Dick Giordano retired from DC in 1993 after the death of his wife and amid his own declining health. He was just two years shy of earning a Time Warner pension. Then-publisher Paul Levitz, a good guy, fudged the numbers a bit by counting Giordano's brief stint in the 1960s as a DC artist. Voila, Dick got his pension.

Levitz and then-president Jenette Kahn were similarly kind to Jack Kirby in the case we've all discussed recently, letting him do minor redesigns to his Fourth World characters in the 1980s in exchange for retroactive royalty rights.

Once in a while, you do hear a heart-warming story.

Not nearly often enough, though.

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#601935 - 03/06/13 02:55 PM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: Lawson]
Ceci n'est pas une chaussette Offline
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Registered: 12/19/05
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If you're a freelancer, as Jerry Ordway was in the 80s, you are self-employed. He just happened to have a regular client.

There's a reason Neal Adams wanted to unionize cartoonists back in the day. A steady paycheck is good; a steady paycheck and job security and health care and retirement benefits are what you're supposed to get from a long-term employer. If they're only offering you a steady paycheck on an eternally at-will freelance basis, and that's the best offer you can hope to get, the industry you work in is fucked.
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#601936 - 03/06/13 07:02 PM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: Ceci n'est pas une chaussette]
Peter Urkowitz Offline
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Registered: 08/28/00
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Loc: Salem, MA, USA
Jerry Ordway is a great artist, and I wish him all the best. It's a terrible situation, and it's happened to way too many good artists. I hope he can find a way to make things work out for him.

Despite this being an old, predictable story, I have to admit to being a little shocked to hear that the same thing happened to Curt Swan too. Curt Swan?!?!? DC should have installed him in a palatial villa with a full-time staff, like a Pope Emeritus.

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#601937 - 03/07/13 10:02 AM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: Peter Urkowitz]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
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Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: Peter Urkowitz
I have to admit to being a little shocked to hear that the same thing happened to Curt Swan too. Curt Swan?!?!? DC should have installed him in a palatial villa with a full-time staff, like a Pope Emeritus.


I agree. But ... nobody asked us, unfortunately.

Like Curt Swan, classic Silver Age artist Kurt Schaffenberger got shoved aside by the 1986 Superman reboot that benefited then-young turks John Byrne and Jerry Ordway. DC already had banished Schaffenberger once before, in the early 1970s, for joining a freelancers' rebellion demanding reprint fees and a health plan. Schaffenberger drew a ton of comics for DC -- SUPERMAN, SUPERBOY, SUPERGIRL, LOIS LANE, WONDER WOMAN. And then one day he was completely gone.

But then, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, and look how well DC treated them.

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#601938 - 03/07/13 01:18 PM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: Lawson]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 7091
The thing that gets me about all the comics artist tragic endings is that these people don't seem to realize that there other venues where they can make money with their artwork besides the long underwear pamphlets. Most of these comics artists are in and around New York City, where there the big money for art is. It's surprising we don't hear that many stories of comics artists who are successful in other fields of art.

There was a guy on Colbert's show last night who sells paintings made from photographs he took in various WalMarts. He said he typically gets between $1000 and $40,000 for projector blow-up tracings of shitty photography. Imagine if Gil Kane had thought to do to his own comics panels what Roy Lichtenstein did.

_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
— Bob Kane

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#601939 - 03/07/13 02:00 PM Re: Ordway on Ageism [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Lawson Offline
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Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: Allen Montgomery
The thing that gets me about all the comics artist tragic endings is that these people don't seem to realize that there other venues where they can make money with their artwork besides the long underwear pamphlets.


You're right, of course.

But many of these guys want to draw comic books. That's what they love. They might go into advertising or some other field if they absolutely have to (and some have), but they're not happy about it. I can understand that.

Also, by the time some of these pros get kicked out, they're getting up there in years -- age 50 or older -- and it can be difficult to break into any new field at that age.

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