Wednesday Comments – Superman, Creators & Controversy

You’d think that Superman and DC would have a much more harmonious relationship. But then again, considering they’ve been together for 75 years maybe the current discord shouldn’t be surprising.

Superman’s been indirectly responsible for DC Comics getting a bit of bad press lately. First if was Orson Scott Card writing a story for an upcoming Superman title and then this week, industry vet Jerry Ordway wrote on his blog about his recent experiences with the company.

Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, I’ll give you a brief recap of the Orson Scott Card situation. Orson Scott Card is a celebrated novelist. He’s written books for Marvel and his novels have been adapted into comics and an upcoming movie.

Card also happens to believe that homosexuals should be treated as second class citizens. More than that, he’s vocal with his beliefs and he’s actively trying to deny them rights.

So what started as some fans being outraged that DC was going to allow a homophobe to write Superman snowballed into petitions to have him removed from the book and several comic shops refusing to carry the title. Most recently, Chris Sprouse, the artist who was to illustrate Card’s story, has dropped off the project, resulting in the story being pushed to a later issue.

I don’t agree with Orson Scott Card and his views on homosexuality. In fact I’m on the opposite side of the conversation. But there are plenty of comic book creators that I don’t see eye to eye on. Chuck Dixon, Bill Willingham and Ethan Van Scriver are all on the opposite side of the aisle, politically speaking, but I can still enjoy their work. Their political views and stances don’t interfere with my enjoyment of their work.

Card falls into the category with Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Judd Winick where his politics eclipses his talent. Because of his outspoken nature, his views on homosexuality are virtually the second thing to come up when his name gets mentioned.

I believe in the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression; Card should have the right say and stand up for what he believes in. But the flipside of both of those is the repercussions of standing up for your beliefs. Just like Mahmoud Abdul Rauf (google him) taking a stand often means sacrifice. If Card loses work because of his desire to rob people of their rights, I’m totally fine with that.

And now from a story with no artist, to an artist looking for work; Jerry Ordway.

Jerry Ordway’s plight really saddens me. I’m a longtime fan of his work. While I didn’t read All-Star Squadron or Infinity Inc, I fondly recall his covers on those books when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I first became acquainted with this work during Crisis on Infinite Earths and then became a fan during his work on the post-Crisis Superman relaunch. Adventures of Superman was a great read.

His Power of Shazam was a book that I’d always meant to collect (and maybe I’ll seek it out this con season) but I just never got around to it. Jerry Ordway might not have been my “favorite” artist, but he’s certainly one who always had my respect.

So to hear that he struggled to get work during DC’s New 52 relaunch was pretty depressing. The guy is a legend at this point, was signed to an exclusive contract with DC and still wasn’t working? That’s malarkey.

Yes, some of the New 52 titles had artists that were attached to the books and we can’t imagine those books without those artists (Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Batman & Robin, etc) but there were several other books were the art teams weren’t nearly as cemented.

Imagine if Ordway was on Green Arrow, it might have given that book some much needed stability. Legion of Super-Heroes or Legion Lost could have used Ordway as the artist or at least the regular fill in. I think Ordway also would have worked well on Suicide Squad or Stormwatch.

Plus you’ve got DC’s digital books like Smallville Season 11 and Arrow that he could have been working on, but wasn’t.

My point is that DC had Jerry Ordway, an incredibly reliable artist, under contract and literally squandered that talent. With 52 titles, DC probably could have had Ordway doing fill-in work every month on a different title, but they didn’t. They let him sit around, wait for work and beg for scraps.

Jerry Ordway was once a pillar of DC’s creativity and now he’s just an afterthought? It’s really a shame.

Ok, that’s enough ranting for this week. It’s Wednesday go and pick up some fresh new comics (and maybe even Red Menace illustrated by Jerry Ordway.)

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