Modern Masters Volume 13: Jerry Ordway by Eric Nolen-Weathington (book review).

I think the first thing that struck me was artist Jerry Ordway and me had something in common, being born in the same year so, even divided by a continent, we would have some common references in our comicbook reading although he started off in Marvel Comics and mine was DC Comics and both switched later.

Watching how Ordway progressed up through the ranks from inker to finisher to penciller and then by offering suggestions while working on ‘The Adventures Of Superman’ getting them used across the three titles and onto writing as well is quite an education of being in the right place at the right time.

Ordway discusses Bibbo, a small-part character whose role developed in ‘The Adventures Of Superman’ as being based on someone who used to visit his mother’s bar. Even so, from what I remember then and look at a picture now, he has some resemblance to a spinach-eating sailorman.

Oddly, Ordway is recognised more for his run on ‘Shazam!’ for 50 issues than anything else, yet over his career he has worked on ‘All-Star Squadron’, ‘Justice League’ and ‘The Avengers’, amongst others, and clearly in demand. That’s not to say it’s always been a perfect career and Ordway candidly points out DC Comics lapses in keeping to contracts is something all potential comicbook creators need to read and I think should have in writing, more so with editorial turnover. There’s also an awareness of as you get older in this field, you might be squeezed out when new editors want to use younger talent. As such, don’t be afraid to take on other projects or even with the independents and get your own projects done as a legacy.

The display of Jerry Ordway’s art covers a wide range and his discussion point on how he tightly pencils for others to ink differs when he inks himself. Looking at his pencils, I like the way he gets the lines and creases in civilian clothes which is an added realism some artists don’t always get.

I should point out that TwoMorrows have brought the price of their ‘Modern Masters’ books down and you should investigate if any of your favourite artists are amongst them.

GF Willmetts

February 2021

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2007. 117 page illustrated including an 8 page colour insert softcover. Price: $14.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-893905-79-5. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 8.00 (US))

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