Jerry Ordway writes about ageism in the comic industry:
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.
Getting back to the beginning of this essay, and to the artists I loved as a kid, 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?
The immediate reaction to this – Or my immediate reaction, at least – is to become frustrated with DC for what seems like essentially sidelining Ordway, who really does feel like an integral part of the publisher’s 1980s and 1990s output, and whose work hasn’t lost a step since those days. But then I remember the fan outcry at creators like Tom DeFalco, Howard Mackie or even Scott Lobdell receiving regular work at DC these days, and realize that the publisher’s previous attempts at hiring outside of a specific age group have led to derision and accusations of cronyism. So, what’s the solution here, in that case? Is some creator favoritism okay, and if so, where’s the line?
(Personally, I’d like to see Ordway get more work at DC or elsewhere; he’s got a great line as an artist, and I really enjoyed his writing on the Superman books and Power of Shazam. I do wonder whether there’s interest in him at somewhere like IDW or Dynamite, for some reason.)