Must read: Jerry Ordway on ageism in comics

batman movie Must read: Jerry Ordway on ageism in comics
If you’re a Comics Reader of a Certain Age, the name Jerry Ordway will definitely ring a bell as one of the founding creators of a Certain Age of Comics with accomplishments he lays out very well in a blog post called Life over fifty: a long run on Superman, work on Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis and other foundations of the lore of the DC Universe. Once, there was no one more respected, established or go to. But in recent times, things have been bumpy—an exclusive that meant he barely got any work, and now a dry spell:

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.

[snip]
As a comic reader and customer, the publishers use our older work in collected editions, for what they call first copy royalties, no reprint fees. They publish the All Star Squadron trade, for example and you buy it for whatever the cost. My royalty is maybe a couple hundred dollars, if I’m lucky, for 11 issues worth of work. On a recent Absolute Infinite Crisis hardcover, I had 30 odd pages reprinted in there, a book that retailed for over a hundred dollars– a book that DC never even gave me a copy of, and the royalty amounted to a few dollars, I couldn’t buy a pizza on that windfall. I want to work, I don’t want to be a nostalgia act, remembered only for what I did 20, 30 years ago.


Ordway’s tale is increasingly familiar, but not an unexpected one—in fact, just read the comments under his post where a plethora of older, experienced comics creators sound off. Not to be harsh, but when Ordway started storming the barricades, Arnold Drake wasn’t getting much work, and when Drake was in his prime, Mart Nodell wasn’t the number 1 creator. And someday Scott Snyder and Matt Fraction will be grey haired-eminences. Nobody promised you a 50-year-long career when you got into this thing.

There is no mystery to the career trajectory in any medium. We see it around us all the time. Or as Hollywood once put it, the five career stages:

Who is Rock Gibralter?
Maybe we should try Rock Gibralter.
Get me Rock Gibralter.
Get me a young Rock Gibralter.
Who is Rock Gibralter?

Twitter and message boards are already afire with calls to hire Jerry Ordway, and I’m sure he already has some job offers rolling in. You haven’t seen the last of Rock Gibralter. In many creative fields, Ordway would be in the prime of his career—it’s not like comics are the music industry and a following is dependent on dancing around in tight pants. But still, Rob LIefeld—himself no stranger to ups and downs—draws a line under it:


With total respect to Ordway, who is a thorough professional with an enviable track record—he, like many others, has based his career thus far on the Corporate Comics model. And in that model when you fall out of fashion with the fans, for whatever reason, you don’t get hired any more. There’s a finite life cycle to most careers unless you break out into superstar status, and even then no guarantees. In his post Ordway mentions older creators who were his role models, including Jack Kirby. I think there was a lesson there to be learned that Ordway did not entirely absorb.

But who can blame him? We all think we’re the one who’s going to stay on top, stay fresh and vital, buck the odds. Young people don’t buy health insurance or put money in their 401(k)s unless forced to do so.

It is easier than even to do your own thing. Matt Fraction and Scott Snyder have something that previous generations didn’t have as much access to: they were both established creators before they even wrote a line for Corporate Comics. Snyder was an author with rave reviews in Publishers Weekly, the New York Times, and Booklist. Fraction had worked for an award-winning interactive design firm and had a back catalog of his own comics that already had a following. Should they fall out of favor tomorrow—or even in 10 years, I think they’d be fine.

The system Ordway was raised doesn’t exist anymore…and never really did, in terms of an industry that looked after its creators from art school graduation to memorial service. That he’ll be productive and successful for another couple of decades, I have no doubt—he’s smart, talented and creative. And adaptable.

But let his blog post stand as a warning to all: the gravy train usually has a very short ride.

Comments

  1. i often wonder about these ‘older’ creators who’s names are on the legendary runs and all my old comics but aren’t really getting published anymore. Seems like he has a relevancy problem more than anything else. Which frankly is a problem that everyone in this age range has in every creative industry from fine arts to advertising to movies.

    If you want to reinvent your career now as an “old schooler” Team up with a hot, younger writer and pitch a book to Image or someone like that. I think that would put him back in the conversation.

    In just about every creative industry, If you refuse to change with the world, you’ll be left behind and forgotten.

  2. I’m a fan of Ordway’s work and I’ve been enjoying his current work (Human Bomb). I want him to get more work as well as more money. The money moreso than the work.

  3. Jerry has been doing some of the best work ever on our HUMAN BOMB limitedseries. Everyone take note…

  4. Aaron Hazouri says:

    Doing your own thing is a crapshoot, and not always possible for a working artist with a family to care for. It is disgraceful and beyond absurd that Jerry Ordway can’t get regular well-paying comics work… but this is the same industry that has Norm Breyfogle drawing Archie, of all things, so I can’t say that it surprises me.

    This is a tough thing, because (and I know this as a freelance artist) nobody owes you anything beyond paying you for the work you’ve done. If you have a lifestyle (like a family or a house or whatever) that demands a certain income to maintain, that’s your responsibility – not the people hiring you. And if all the older pros keep working into their 60s and 70s, the younger guys won’t get a chance.

    Still – it’s friggin’ Jerry Ordway. The guy should not have to worry about finding work.

  5. everything is a crap shoot especially in creative industries. You’re only as good as your last hit. There is always someone younger and hungrier looking to take your gig.

    I dont’ see why the same message current pros give to up and comers doesn’t apply to the old guys trying to stay relevant…”make your own opportunities.”

  6. everything is a crap shoot especially in creative industries. You’re only as good as your last hit. There is always someone younger and hungrier looking to take your gig.

    I dont’ see why the same message current pros give to up and comers doesn’t apply to the old guys trying to stay relevant…”make your own opportunities.”

  7. This a really tricky thing. I’d like to say that DC is being a bunch of cockgobblers, but Ordway’s work, while technically proficient, does look really dated. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to put him on something they hope to sell in big numbers. However, they are at fault for continuously putting him on projects that are under the radar/have bad writers.

  8. This is a damned shame! Jerry is not only insanely talented, but he’s a master draughtsman. You can’t buy that skill, you gotta earn it after years and years of practice and work!

    I’ve known him personally for years, and even worked for him a few times. He’s easily the most professional person I’ve ever worked with. I’ve learned more from him than I deserve!

    He’s also just a person and friend.

    More importantly he’s still got the moves! I can’t believe he’s out of work!

    I actually feel guilt at having work when he doesn’t. The universe is out of order!

  9. “With total respect to Ordway…he, like many others, has based his career thus far on the Corporate Comics model…it’s easier than ever to do your own thing.” But not necessarily profitable. Love or hate the corporate model, Heidi, it’s still the only way for the vast majority of comic book creators to make a living.

    Ordway’s essay moved me as well, as my husband is of course finding himself in the same underemployed position after a quarter century in the comics business.

  10. Vaughan Johnson says:

    Great art never looks dated Zach.

  11. Earth-2 Chad says:

    … this is the same industry that has Norm Breyfogle drawing Archie, of all things, so I can’t say that it surprises me.

    Breyfogle also draws DC’s digital-first Batman Beyond series, and at least to my eyes, he hasn’t lost a step. Of course, I feel the same way about Ordway’s work. Doesn’t look dated at all to me.

    Here’s hoping he gets more of whatever kind of work he’s looking for soon.

  12. I agree with what Chris said,although I don’t think Ordway looks particularly dated..But this does seem to be the main problem with anything in the arts,what was great 20years ago may not be considered so now.In fact we have a habit of looking at the macho posturing of comics from 20years ago and laugh,especially if they contain awful Liefield esque art.Were we so disparaging back then?No.
    However really great work doesn’t age and some people,like the Bill Sienkiewicz’s of this world are going to look awesome whatever era they are in.They are the lucky ones.If you can’t grow,change and turn yourself into a marketable product then unfortunately you are gong to get forgotten about.Be the product,make opportunities for yourself and stay one step ahead of the pack.
    I am surprised,however,that Jerry Ordway feels this way,I would have thought his work was timeless.Maybe he has problems keeping deadlines?So many artists these days get picked because they are quick.Often I think I’d rather wait and see great work than have my comic arrive on time and see meh work.For instance,imagine if you had an artist such as Yuko Shimizu draw all of the Unwritten instead of just the covers?Just…you know,timeless and classic maybe isn’t always profitable.

  13. Jackie Estrada says:

    Jerry is a special guest at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/2013/special-guests/jerry-ordway

  14. John Shableski says:

    Probably one of the best thing for any veteran to do is develop and pitch ideas to editors from the traditional book publishing houses like Abrams, Scholastic, Andrews McMeel, Capstone, Lerner…places where comics are seeing solid growth. Case in point: Sid Jacobsen and Ernie Colon. They pitched the graphic novel adaptation of the 9/11 Commission Report to the comics shops and got no response at all. Hill & Wang got a hold of the project and now the guys are doing all kinds of great books.
    Think outside the box folks and make your own success.

  15. Doctor Timebomb says:

    It must be pointed out that when the New 52 launched DC was criticized for using creators from an older generation: Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth, even Jim Lee’s designs were criticized as “too 90s.” Now in light of Ordway’s blog post, they are being criticized (perhaps not by the same people) for not using creators, or at least this creator, with an older approach to material. Is DC is a no-win situation here?

  16. Matt Halteman says:

    Well, I submitted a comment, but it got eaten, apparently. If anyone on the site can find it, it would be appreciated, as it was rather a good comment, I felt. :)

  17. Rob J. says:

    It seems to me that Ordway didn’t fall out of fashion with the fans — he fell out of fashion with the editors. And DC’s editors have categorically, with few exceptions (mostly at Vertigo), been illiterate morons who wouldn’t know talent if it ran over them with a Mack truck, over the past five years or so.

  18. MBunge says:

    “has based his career thus far on the Corporate Comics model. And in that model when you fall out of fashion with the fans, for whatever reason, you don’t get hired any more.”

    Really? Steve Ditko was still getting work at Marvel well into the 1980s because the fans demanded it? Roy Thomas got hired by Marvel in the 2000s to do adaptations of classic books like Moby Dick because the fans demanded it? Really?

    Mike

  19. I’m kind of confused about what the advantage of an “exclusive contract” is to the creator if it doesn’t guarantee work will be available or pay a higher page rate, neither of which Ordway seems to have gotten. Is it just a health insurance thing?

  20. blacaucasian says:

    I do believe this past weekend Kevin Maguire said he had quit Worlds’ Finest. Jerry Ordway would be a perfect fit for regular art on that book.

  21. Chris Hero says:

    I don’t have any more answers than anyone else does. The way older cartoonists are discarded is awful, but it’s not much different than the way other corporations toss away experienced people once they get some grey in their hair. It still sucks. People like Ordway should be elder statesmen with companies like DC putting them to work editing and teaching the younger guys, not putting them out to pasture.

  22. Sharkjumper says:

    Bob-Yes, I think it is mostly a health benefits thing.

    There is a lot of speculation on what that exclusive contract means on another news site forum so maybe it is best to hear from another former DC Pro who use to have an exclusive. This is from Jamal Igle and apologies to Jamal for copying his words from another forum to this one but I think this clears up just what it means for a creator.

    “The no minimum for work clause is there because a number of the higher paid exclusive talent can’t produce a monthly book. the Contracts used to be designed so that said talent would have a minimum compensation plus co-payment of health insurance and a monetary bonus at the end of the calender year. this something a lot of freelancers in any industry needs and can’t afford. you’re still a freelancer, you pay your own taxes,if you’re late, you don’t get paid. Now Jerry, like myself, is fast enough to pencil 10-11 books a year or 200-220 pages of physical art a year. There are very few art disciplines that require you to do that level of work. The problem is, that the exclusive only locks you into a company, not how much work you do and getting out of an exclusive, with the HI and bonus, is incredibly difficult. Jerry didn’t sign the exclusive for himself, he has a family that needed the insurance as well. So just like any parent, you do what you think is best and hope it works.”

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/forums/front-page-comic-news/67658-lament-jerry-ordway-4.html#post518521

  23. george says:

    Sean Howe’s book about Marvel tells how the Shooter regime dumped veterans such as Chic Stone, Jim Mooney and Don Heck (while continuing to give work to Vince Colletta; go figure). Then, in the ’90s, work dried up for Herb Trimpe and Sal Buscema.

    This isn’t like the movie industry, where auteurs can work steadily into their 60s, 70s or — in Clint Eastwood’s case — their 80s. Even more than movies, the mainstream comics industry depends on exciting young audiences with something that looks hip and new. It’s an industry where the young eat the old.

    I don’t like it, but I don’t know what can be done about it.

  24. george says:

    I recall Isaac Asimov’s comment, in his autobiography, about how his generation of 1940s sci-fi writers regarded the writers of the ’20s and early ’30s as dinosaurs who needed to get out of the way.

    Then, in the ’60s, along came a generation that regarded Asimov and his peers as boring old farts.

    Everyone gets to be an old fart, if he or she lives long enough. And, as the Asimov example shows, it doesn’t just happen in comics.

  25. Doctor Timebomb says:

    George: Can auteurs work steadily? Clint Eastwood is one example but have you seen Joe Dante and John Landis’ latest credits on IMDb? They’re directing episodes of Psych and Hawaii Five-O. They’re paying the bills but when it comes to directing features they’re probably facing the same issues Ordway does. The movie industry can be pretty bad when it comes to ageism, certainly for actresses.

  26. george says:

    I don’t think Dante or Landis were ever major directors, though they did some interesting work 30 years ago. Spielberg is directing features in his late 60s, as is Scorsese in his early 70s. Francis Ford Coppola works when he finds something interesting. (He has a winery to pay the bills.) Alfred Hitchcock directed his last movie at 76, George Cukor at 81, and Billy Wilder at 75.

    I agree that actresses have it bad, unless they’re Meryl Streep. If I were an actress, I would learn some foreign languages and be prepared to move to Europe in my 40s. Actresses can play leading roles in European films into old age. In this country, television is providing more interesting roles for women than features.

  27. richardwells says:

    Unfortunately this is the same in any industry. I work in the software industry for big corporation and the old timers are always the first to go even if they are still at the top of their game.

    At least he has skills that can be used in other industries more than most. sucks that he can’t do what he likes but unfortunately that’s the reality for most folk.

    Can’t imagine its going to help his prospects mouthing of on a website though.

  28. I think some of it is older fans, people who used to buy Jerry’s work as it came out, stop buying comics. Or at least they cut back and tend to focus on trades collecting reprints of stuff they used to own or stuff produced in the same time period.

    As the old 90’s slogan said “These ain’t your daddy’s comics fanboy!” The older fan (who may very well be a dad now) stopped reading them as they were no longer aimed at their demographic. In some cases, they went out of their way to sneer at/tear down what they enjoyed in order to make the new comics look appealing to the younger crowd.

    Plus, life happens and tastes change. The gotta-be-there-Wednesday is no longer quite so important anymore and one gets tired of the bag/board/longbox routine. Even if an old favorite creator is doing something new, they’d have to A) hear about it (difficult because they aren’t paying attention to the press releases anymore) and B) hear it’s *really* good before they consider browsing the book to see if it’s something they want to buy or not.

  29. george says:

    And there’s the fact that every generation wants to discover its OWN heroes. Hopefully, as fans mature they will learn about, and seek out, the great work done in the past. (I was in college before I got seriously interested in Will Eisner’s work.) But there’s no guarantee this will happen.

  30. Al™ says:

    Older creators can get pushed aside by newer, fresher talent. It’s up to the artist to expand his potential market beyond comics, or to reinvent himself. It sounds cruel, but it is a fact of life. You must continually prove your relevance to the market, and to the editors.

  31. Red Hawk says:

    I’ve been an admirer of Jerry’s work, and sadly that’s the plight regardless of the industry. I hope he’ll consider Kickstarter or other crowdsource to launch his own works. Crowdsourcing seems to be the best alternative to dealing with DC or Marvel.

  32. I am lost on how Ordway is dated. Is it because someone is looking at a Tim Burton Batman movie comic? I really think some people are talking out of their ass. Yes the Tim Burton Batman movie looks dated try googling the man’s work. DC seems to find itself continually on the giving end of shit sandwiches. I have yet to read an article on how awesome they are to work for.

  33. Many people love working for DC, and it is full of good people who love making good comics. I know we always pick on the negative here, but let’s try to have some perspective. A lot of this is just the way corporate comics work and not the evil deeds of the Gnome King.

  34. Irwin Schwab says:

    “Many people love working for DC, and it is full of good people who love making good comics”

    Yet these “good people” somehow manage to keep churning out pornographically violent rape comics starring children’s characters.

  35. horatio weisfeld says:

    I don’t think Dante or Landis were ever major directors
    >>
    @George:
    Both Dante or Landis were “A-list” from mid 80s to (probably) early 90s – at which point (after both had helmed many high-profile flops) they can be seen directing fewer and fewer major projects. Both Dante or Landis continue (sporadically) making smaller features to this day .. Seems less about ageism and more common sense /economics.

  36. horatio weisfeld says:

    That’s not to say that Dante or Landis are any sort of good comparison to Ordway, as me suspects that top film directors of the 80s/90s still have many more options.

  37. I’m not an industry insider–I don’t make my living with art and publication, etc. but it’s a shame that comics (now more than ever) couldn’t adopt more of a film & television approach to their contractual work considering how likely the work was going to be collected and re-published. Back in the Silver Age there were no trade collections like there are today. Comics were a one and done monthly magazines no different from something like “Good Housekeeping.” Certainly “Good Housekeeping” never would adopt a “6-issues and a trade” practice. Comics are different. Their “shelf life” is more akin to film/tv and the DVD market where the product is released and then collected/re-packaged at a later time. Actors and directors often see residuals and kickbacks for DVD sales or TV airings, etc why not comic book creators?

  38. I used to do storyboards in Hollywood. When people used to ask me what it was like working in the movie business I always answered “They love you when they need you, but when they don’t need you they don’t know you.” The same thing, I guess, applies in the comic business.

  39. Gail Simone says:

    Jerry Ordway draws classic characters in a classic fashion. But when asked to draw someone young and new, he does that every bit as well. His work is NOT dated. It’s just that some of his most famous work is for very classic versions of characters—his Shazam deliberately evoked a past age, and his Superman evoked the Fleischer cartoons in the same manner.

    When asked to draw the Birds of Prey and Black Alice, he completely nailed it and it felt fresh and new.

    He isn’t just an artist, he’s a SPECTACULAR artist.

    I would work with him in a heartbeat on any project he wanted to work on and I would thank my lucky stars for the opportunity.

  40. Pink Apocalypse says:

    “Spielberg is directing features in his late 60s, as is Scorsese in his early 70s.”

    Let’s be completely honest, here. The lean, hungry, creative-wolves that were Spielberg and Scorsese are long gone. Spielberg doesn’t have the nerve to pull off an ending that *doesn’t* result in a happy, tidy bow anymore, and Scorsese repeats the same themes over and over again.

    Take the music alone. Enough with the Rolling Stones, Martin. We get it. You like the Stones. Shocking as it may sound, some of us don’t. And three movies, with the same song no less, is lazy as well as annoying.

    Both seem to have fallen into a pattern of rolling out orchestra-swelling Oscar bait. They are no longer hungry and out to prove themselves. The question becomes, if a former major star of an art form *does* find themselves hungry and needing to prove themselves, could they do it again?

    The only way to find out is to actually give them a chance. And too often that doesn’t seem to happen.

  41. george says:

    “Pink Apocalypse”: I didn’t say Spielberg and Scorsese were working at the level of creativity they displayed in the 1970s or ’80s. Just that they were still WORKING. “Lincoln” and “Hugo” are not bad movies by any means. They’re the work of mature directors who have calmed down, and no longer feel the need for visual dazzle every 30 seconds.

    Woody Allen is still directing features in his late 70s. “Midnight in Paris,” from 2011, ranks with his best films.

  42. horatio weisfeld says:

    Spielberg and Scorsese.. Ditko and Kirby.. Hah!:
    Lets get real here– comparing comics to film/TV businesses is like comparing apples to rotten oranges; the movie (and TV) business involve hundreds of companies that might hire anyone who has made a name for themselves by doing work for one of the other companies — the “comic book” business is (largely) two companies, both of which, traditionally, pay far, far less than movies and TV, and make little or no profit (at least from the present sales of comic books), and so have no incentive to ever raise comic book artist’s rates — or even care all that much who is drawing the comics.

  43. george says:

    ” … and so have no incentive to ever raise comic book artist’s rates — or even care all that much who is drawing the comics.”

    They certainly don’t encourage artists to develop individual styles anymore. It looks like the same video-game graphics person is doing the art for almost all supehero comics now. There may not be a place for a Jerry Ordway in this world.

  44. Martin Pasko says:

    I find much of this piece, not to mention the comment string it has elicited, to be naive, trite, ill-informed, and condescending. For one thing, I didn’t find Jerry Ordway’s blog post the plaintive, self-pitying whine the writer infers it to be. It struck me more that Jerry was articulating a shift in the values of the industry, at least as far as the Big Two are concerned. And I think he’s correct in his assessment.

    Contrary to what the writer of this piece suggests, there WAS a time — only recently ended — that seasoned talent could get work for as long as it could DO the work, and it was primarily the passion of people like Jim Shooter and Tom DeFalco and Paul Levitz and Jenette Kahn for creating a talent-friendly work environment that made it possible.

    But that ethos that informed Jerry’s long and distinguished association with the major comics publishers — the idea that people who knew how to get the work done, well and on-schedule, and in so doing could keep the machinery running — the idea that they had value to the company as long as they were “vital,” as Jerry put it, and productive — regardless of whether they were perceived as “future superstars” and new and shiny and “sexy” to the magpie-like Flavor-Of-The-Week mentality — that philosophy is gone.

    Jerry’s predicament — if that’s even what it is, though I suspect Jerry’s real “problem,” if he even has one, lies in just having too narrow a view of the industry, as being a place where They hire you to work on things They own — is not, as your writer suggests, some ineluctable, Darwinian force — a truck that ran over Jerry and woe betide him for not having seen it coming. What he didn’t see coming was the obliteration of a mindset that really DID exist once: a communality and a credo of “We DO take care of our own” that once resided even in the executive suites, and not just on the website of the Heroes Initiative.

    But it walked out the door with the people who built the direct sale-supported industry in the ’70s and ’80s, who were elbowed aside so that they wouldn’t get in the way of Corporate Hollywood’s remaking of the comics business in its own image.

    Conditions evolve, and whether one thinks the change is for better or worse depends on one’s own biases, interests, and emotional investments. Life nevertheless goes on. And strong, smart people adapt. They grow. And “talent,” if people have any — and Jerry surely does — “will out.” No amount of meaningless blather about “relevancy,” no ignorant posturing by any inexperienced disinterested parties who have not bothered to take even a cursory look into the history of this industry, will change that.

  45. Patrick Gerard says:

    Point #1: Ordway has done creator owned comics. He wasn’t bogged down in the Corporate Comics Model until they approached him and offered him an exclusive contract. He was one of the early waves of Image creators.

    Point #2: There’s an assumption that Jack Kirby’s treatment is a lesson TO CREATORS. I think it should be seen as a lesson equally or MORE relevant TO EMPLOYERS AND CORPORATIONS who NEED TO ACCOMODATE their employees.

    Point #3: Comics creators were almost always established creators outside of comics. The likes of Otto Binder were not exactly uncommon. Martin Nodell was a successful ad-man. It speaks to the strength of their comics work that people forget those outside contributions. And, sure, some creators brought in were kids but they were bright kids self-publishing magazines and engaged in college level academic writing.

    Point #4: Jerry Ordway is 54. It’s a bit early for a memorial service. He’s three years older than Grant Morrison and Scott Lobdell, who are very active. He’s the same age as Jeph Loeb. He’s younger than J. Michael Straczynski.

    Point #5: *sigh* Just… *sigh*

  46. At the end of the day, it is the fans who determine who works in comics. The artists who sell the most books are the artists who get the most work and the highest salary. It has nothing to do with talent, skill, or anything else. There are many less skilled artists than Jerry who continue to get work. Because fans are buying it. There are many great books by talented people which do not sell. These books are cancelled. It’s the same with TV, music, movies or anything else.

  47. george says:

    I remember when Jack Kirby was considered a washed-up old has-been, in the late ’70s. His comics weren’t selling, and the shops couldn’t give away his Fourth World back issues. I recall shop owners advising people against wasting their money on Kirby’s books!

    Fortunately, Jack lived long enough to see his reputation restored. He was considered a revered elder statement at the end of his life, and respect for his work has only grown since then.

  48. J. C. Leyendecker was the number one magazine cover illustrator in his day, and his “Arrow collar man” was as iconic as the (Charles Dana) Gibson girl. However, after decades of great financial and artistic success, Leyendecker (and the Arrow collar) were suddenly ‘out’ and in the grim light of WWII his Art Deco stylization was suddenly seen as being very frivolous, decadent, and ‘old school.’ Unfortunately, Leyendecker spent his money wildly and his final decade was in austere contrast to his prior, lavish years of plenty.

    On the other hand, when Gibson’s masterful pen-and-ink work – which seemed to define the Gilded Age sensibility – fell out of fashion, he turned to oil painting and, happily for him, he had saved his fortune from previous decades and lived his remaining years in comfort.

    Now in retrospect Leyendecker, Gibson, and a host of other classic illustrators are highly regarded by newer generations, but that doesn’t solve change the downturn that many of these lived through. Frazetta had a great comeback as a paperbook book cover artist and movie poster illustrator aftering being rejected by early ’60s Marvel and DC for being “too old fashioned.”

    I wish Jerry Ordway all the best, but this is a story repeated throughout history, not just in today’s comics industry.

  49. Just a few corrections in my last post: “solve change” is missing the word ‘or’ — it should read “solve or change.” And the typo “paperbook” should read “paperback.” Otherwise, the message should still be clear enough.

Trackbacks

  1. […] posts on how to make a living at this here thing are coming out today. We’ve already seen Jerry Ordway plead to be taken seriously as a creator. But it’s not just the old paper and ink crowd that’s fretting this day. The […]

  2. […] yesterday’s much quoted post on wanting to be hired, artist Jerry Ordway responded to the outpouring of support with more on the […]

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