Robot 6

Quote of the Day | ‘Do I think DC comics owes me anything? Yes and no’

ordway-justice society

“I am thrilled to be well remembered, and respected in the comic book community, and to have fans willing to pay me to draw commissions, but I got into comics in order to tell stories, not to draw custom art. I still feel vital, and still want to be at that table. Do I think DC comics owes me anything? Yes and no. I understand that no company owes anything that isn’t contractually stipulated, but in my heart, I think I deserve better than being marginalized over the last 10 years. I’m not retired, I’m not financially independent. I’m a working guy with a family, working for a flat page rate that hasn’t changed substantially since 1995. I may have opportunities at smaller companies, companies that pay less per page than I made in 1988, with no royalties or ownership of any kind. I’m not at all looking down at that, but it is hard to reconcile, as I can’t work faster, and refuse to hack my work out to match the rate. I have pride in what I do, and always have. As to my part in the history of DC for the past 33 years, I was a highly visible and successful part of it, not a minor footnote. [...] all I ask is for some of the same consideration my generation of creators and editors gave to the older guard in the 1980’s. My work is still sharp, my mind is still full of stories to tell, and I’m still willing to work all hours of my day to meet my deadlines. Why am I out of work from the publishers? Why are my friends, people who turned in great work, worthy of hardcover and trade paperback reprints, not able to get work?”

– veteran artist and writer Jerry Ordway in an essay titled “Life over fifty,” lamenting the lack of regular work from DC Comics, where he once worked on such titles as Adventures of Superman, All-Star Squadron, Infinity Inc. and The Power of SHAZAM!

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35 Comments

I feel bad for Jerry i really do…he just wants to keep creating at the company he loves and has called home for almost all his career. Unfortunately if you want to still be producing artwork 3 decades after the 80’s it might help if the art didnt still look like it was fresh FROM the 1980’s. Jerry doesnt have a speed or desire problem…he has a relevancy problem.

Heck… Why isn’t he working, DC??? I thought he kinda retired and that was the reason we didn’t get any new stuff from him. I LOVE his artwork! Really don’t get this! He would be perfect for earth 2, or any Superman book! Thats a frikking shame! They should look out for their own. Hes a legend!

Even though he’s not my favorite, I see that he’s a quality artist in a classic superhero style and there’s clearly still a market for that given how dissatisfied alot of older fans are with the direction that DC has taken, an attitude I’m sympathetic to. He really should have no problem getting work, even if it’s as an inker or a writer. And are these guys ever offered editorial positions? He really would be perfect on virtually any of their books.

The answer is right there in the question, Jerry: it’s DC.

You should bring back Wildstar!!

I don’t think this is going to endear him to DC.

Won’t endear him to DC? What will they do? Not hire him? They’re doing that already…

This whole it looks like the 1980’s argument makes no sense to me. It isn’t like we are looking at a pic from a 1940’s comic. The art above, as an example, looks highly detailed and crisp. I can see where someone like Chris Weston might even be influenced by Ordway. Nothing about it looks dated to me. It looks like well rendered humans in colorful costumes. Is it the fact that he isn’t referencing the same manga poses, designs. Or that the art isn’t overly photoshopped. His style is still relevant. He shouldn’t have to wonder why he isn’t getting work. He should just be getting work. I suspect it has more to do with him having an “old” name than having an “80’s” style. And that’s pretty fn sad.

I’m not entirely sure what Ordway is getting at by saying that he would have no ownership of any kind working at a smaller company. I’m pretty sure the bulk majority of Image’s, Avatar’s, and Oni’s creators own their work, as well as those working at Dark Horse, Dynamite, Boom!, or IDW outside of those publishers’ licensed books.

Take WildStar to Dark Horse!

I think his art is and remains fantastic.

I am not an Ordway fan, but did think he was a better artist in recent years than he was in the early ’90’s. As to why he doesn’t get work from DC…only they know.

Great great artist. Thank you Mister Ordway. Please remember that we love your work and, more important, you are still young. I will buy Human Bomb as soon as possible.

Here we go. People coming out of the woodwork to yell at DC for not doing more. But I’d bet my pay that those screaming the loudest didn’t pre-order his Human Bomb stuff. You know – the mini-series that is still has one more issue to be released. So there – DC did give him work. Now go yell at the other companies.

If you really think you’re doing him a favor by picking it up at the comic shop, too little too late. You shoulda been there when the issues were in Previews – pre-ordering is the only way to show support.

Matt Halteman

March 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Thanks, Mikael, for encapsulating, in one post, just about everything that’s wrong with the modern comic book industry. Well done.

What’s really wrong about this is that when a person enters into an exclusive contract there is an ” Reasonable Expectation” upon both parties. The artist delivers the work on time. and the company supplies a reasonable amount of work in a reasonable amount of time . Jerry has never missed a deadline. so he’s done his part. DC HAS to supply a ‘Reasonable amount of work” based on their working history. ! book per month is “Reasonable” and if they don’t then DC is in violation of the contract.On this I checked with two very respected attorneys. Jerry is free to seek work elsewhere.

The argument that Jerry’s work isn’t “modern enough” is total bullshit. Correct art is correct art and is timeless. All that he draws is correct.Not the hot style of today’s comics? Bullshit again. Editors haven’t a clue as to what’s hot or not,They are told what’s hot by equally as clueless superiors. These decisions are not determined by numbers but by media coverage. Editors come and go,and VERY few are remembered by the fans. There are a slight few who have made a name for themselves in the industry,and that seems to be because they are attached to a product brought to you by that products creative team. Fresh blood translated means lesser page rates.This has happened in the 70’s and again in the 90’s after the bubble burst by marketing gimmicks driven by those same clueless superiors.

I really enjoy Ordway’s work as an artist and as a writer. This treatment is a real shame.

@pat broderick: ‘Correct art is correct art and is timeless’

Amen to that, brother.

The whole “dated” thing continues to baffle me. I hear the same things said about Byrne, Perez, and several others, and I just don’t see it. Ordway’s got tons of talent, great storytelling skills, and is DEPENDABLE. Maybe, if he changed his name, started missing deadlines, and slopped together a bunch of photo shopped garbage, they’d beat a path to his door. I dunno.

Didn’t he recently do that Challengers of the Unknown story in DC Universe Presents? Maybe he should be put in charge of a new title.

I am a big fan of Ordway’s, but I find it ironic that, given DC’s apparent current mission to bring back the 90s (whether we want them or not), the creators who were actually active in the 90s can’t get work.

Andrew Collins

March 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Totally agree with Pat Broderick about Ordway’s work being both timeless and heaps better than most of the crap being printed now. I’ll take a “classic” style artist like Ordway or George Perez or Kevin Maguire or John Byrne over many of the currently popular artist who either a.) can’t produce on a deadline, or b.) need to take a few more art classes…

I’d love to work with Jerry on an old-school themed DC book, like a silver-age style JLA or JSA book. And I think it would sell, mostly because of his art.

I miss the days when DC actually had Comic Book writers and artists working for them instead of the hot shot “superstars” and rejects from other entertainment industries. These people can’t tell a story to save their soul. I challenge any of the current writers to give great stories in only 1-2 issues.

I miss the days of great writers like Gerry Conway, Chuck Dixon, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman and equally great artists like George Perez, Graham Nolan, Pat Broderick and yes, Jerry Ordway.

This thread was actually the first time I heard Ordway was even drawing Human Bomb. Way to promote DC.

The Original Jimmy

March 5, 2013 at 12:56 am

@Kaotic
Sure, his art looks pretty much the same for the last thirty years. That’s because his art has been at such a consistently high level for thirty years he hasn’t needed to alter it to accommodate “style of the month” trends that are supposedly cool today, but will age so poorly we’ll be mocking them years from now. Just look at 99% of the art from the 90’s for proof.
Many of the “hot” artists today will barely be remembered in thirty years. Jerry is already, and in years to come, will be remembered as a legend alongside Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, and Neal Adams etc.
Unfortunately short term comic readers seem to love chasing the “hot trend,” and there aren’t enough of us long timers around to support the legends. I had a similar conversation with Howard Chaykin late last year at a conference where we both lamented this fact. There he was, Chaykin, a LIVING LEGEND, and hardly any of the comic fans there hardly knew who he was. They were too busy getting sketches from other artists who had only been around for 6 months or less. Depressing.

If you think that Ordway’s art looks “dated,” you’re the reason mainstream comics suck so hard now.

Shame on you people. 1980s, my ass. How dare you guys. The nerve of you. This is Jerry Ordway, you clowns. He doesn’t look like the 1980s, boy the 1980s look like him. Because he drew the 1980s.

Jake Earlewine

March 5, 2013 at 6:39 am

Ordway is a better artist and a better storyteller than 90 percent of those working today for the Big Two. If you think Ordway’s art looks “dated” than you are a moron and should immediately seek employment at DC where they will probably make you an editor or a co-publisher.

Agreed on all the “dated” comments being a load of horsesh!t. Jerry Ordway is a master draftsman and a legend. It’s too bad that he’s getting marginalized, but I think this is symptomatic of a lot of industries where they can bring in younger guys and treat them with less respect than veterans will stand for.

Co-sign bringing WildStar back, with the right story, it could come back like the Extreme books.

he is dated as hell and it makes for boring comics

If they had him under contract they should’ve given him some work. With that said…it’s a business, it’s a only the strong survive, dog eat dog world out there. I’m 37 and enjoy veteran artists but I also love these new guys.

It’s not a question of modern looking art…it’s a question of who sells more. If a new young artist sells more than a veteran with a strong fan following? You get the idea. Some of these new guys are amazing. Pure energy, great artwork. There are only a certain amount of titles.

With that said…I still think there is a place for Jerry at DC. Not every new guy is amazing. But they might be cheaper?

Brian from Canada

April 17, 2013 at 1:38 pm

This has nothing to do with art.

Warner’s initiative behind the New 52 is to make the comics relevant again. Their retailers were disappearing, their reputation was stale (at least, compared to Marvel’s) and they needed to generate excitement for their characters to lure potential filmmakers into theatrical franchises.

Jerry Ordway didn’t seem to follow that trend into the New 52. His “Challengers Of The Unknown” and Human Bomb are both… decent. But there’s no demand for followup. No one is clamouring to DC about a Freedom Fighters book despite three mini-series — far more than other characters have gotten.

So he’s not getting work. And while he wants the kind of respect and push for respect the 80s creators gave to the creators of the past, the fact is that the only way the industry does that now is collected editions. Most of the creators in his day are now working sporadically (save for Neil Gaiman, who stepped away for a while).

Comics has changed. The money isn’t there. Companies are devoting themselves to architects who they can build future franchises on. In that situation, Jerry Ordway is — sadly — one of a growing group of creators who are sidelined. It’s just the way time has marched on.

The only other solution is to get a group of classic creators together and start their own publishing company. But even that’s not a sure bet any more.

the shabby treatment dc is giving jerry ordway is no different than the shabby treatment they have given long term dc fans. as a fan of dc for fifty years, with the “new 52″, they deciged to abandon me and those who have stuck with them over the years. rather than push creators to, er.. be creative, they decided to take the easy way out and re-invent the characters that made dc iconic and , in turn, cheapen them. now, they have made the decision to abandon the creators that gave then a high standard for so many years and separated them from the vapid, silly and artistically bankrupt ranks of marvel and image. so dc, go for the quick buck… see how far their loyalty will follow you. as far as myself, i am older and have money to spend…i’ll be following jerry wherever he goes. i’ll buy trades and hardcovers of my iconic dc (archives) but no “new 52″ for me…after fifty years, game over.

If his artwork is dated, then bring on the dated artwork; we need more of it. Comics looked better in the 1980s.

Just went to the comic shop and added this Human Bomb thing to my pull list.

Bill Shattenkirk

May 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

Just saw this and it’s a travesty.

DC should be ashamed of themselves for MANY things right now and this is just another in a loooong line.

The Original Jimmy had it right “Sure, his art looks pretty much the same for the last thirty years. That’s because his art has been at such a consistently high level for thirty years he hasn’t needed to alter it to accommodate “style of the month” trends that are supposedly cool today, but will age so poorly we’ll be mocking them years from now. Just look at 99% of the art from the 90′s for proof.”

For shame DC

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