Comics Alliance editor – and former DC Comics editor – Joe Hughes considers the case of Jerry Ordway in a great piece:
Ordway still has much to offer. He is a gifted artist and an expert draftsman, and if you look at all 52 of DC’s current monthly titles, it’s certainly not the case that each book is staffed with artists whose work is superior to his. The man understands how to tell a story, yet finds himself on the outside looking in with respect to the characters he loves and, in some respects, helped redefine.
Is this ageism? Not in the strictest definition of the term. If a 25-year-old artist who emulated Ordway showed a portfolio with work similar to his, I get the feeling he’d have the same difficulty getting work at DC as Ordway is right now. I think it’s more a matter of changing tastes from publishers and, presumably, fans. If Howard Hawks were still alive and pitched a screwball comedy today to a big budget movie studio, that mirrored the style of His Girl Friday or Twentieth Century, he’d likely be dismissed out of hand. That wouldn’t make his idea any less brilliant.
I still struggle with the issue of what DC “should” do with Ordway (Although, you know, the idea that there is a “should” in there should probably be considered a warning of some kind or another), but I think Hughes is onto something – Ordway not getting regular work is less the result of ageism than it is one of taste, especially when you consider other creators who do get regular work from DC. This isn’t a good thing as such, but it doesn’t mean it’s any less true, sadly.
There’s much more in Joe’s piece. Check it out.