THE STAN LEE EFFECT

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Vince Colletta and Stan Lee in Saddle River 1965

Stan Lee, Marvel’s former Editor in Chief and Colletta’s former boss: – “Just mention the name Vinnie Colletta and the first thing that comes to mind is his gorgeous portrayal of beautiful females in his artwork.

When I first met Vinnie and he showed me his art samples I was overwhelmed. I had never seen anyone depict beautiful women in romance stories as dramatically or as glamorously.

Years later, when the trend turned to superhero stories, Vince showed his amazing versatility by becoming a terrific inker of many of our main characters, with the countless issues he inked of Thor being his most memorable.

Not only was Vincent Colletta extremely talented, but he was also one of our most dependable artists. If ever another artist became ill and couldn’t meet his deadline, I can’t remember the number of times I’d give the assignment to Vinnie who would work through the night and inevitably deliver the work on time.

Indeed, Vincent Colletta was a fine artist, a valued co-worker and a dear friend whose work will be long remembered.”

Martin Pasko, Veteran writer: I think Vince Colletta was one of the best inkers of his generation in the comics business, but — sadly, IMO — his reputation suffered unfairly for his consummate professionalism. Vinnie was the guy so many editors came to rely on to make up the time in the schedule lost to writers’ and pencillers’ slowness. Vinnie often had to cut corners — such as scrimping on backgrounds — to turn the pages around in time. And after SOME, but not all, editors had happily put the books “to bed,” they — and the fans — would talk trash about Vinnie being a hack — conveniently forgetting that NO creative choice Vinnie made was EVER in sacrifice to the clarity of the storytelling and what the reader was paying for. I always thought the way he was regarded in some quarters was grossly unfair…
…because I WORKED with him, and I saw what he could do when allowed to do it (he was a good penciller, too, but he never got much of a shot at it except on the romance books)…and I remember all the magnificent ink work he did, over guys like Jack Kirby and Gil Kane and many others, when he was Given. Enough. Time. To Be. The Best. He could be. Which was, IMO, magnificent.

Frankie, Vince is honored by having a son who respects his memory as you do, because it’s a testament to a guy who apparently did in his personal life what I always knew he did in his professional one: his best.

For readers not familiar with Vince Colletta, my father was an artist and inker, known primarily for his exquisite romance art and, later on, his contributions to the superhero genre. Debates over his techniques and methods will probably never subside.

Stefan Etrigan: For those of you who can’t be bothered to look, it’s the beautiful cover to FOREVER PEOPLE #3 by Jack Kirby, with surprisingly lovely inks by Vince Colletta.

Jose: I’ve always said Vinnie Colletta was pretty good, when he wanted to be. So I’m glad he’s in my sketchbook.

Ken Quattro:  Mike’s quest of Romita art has undoubtedly affected the going prices of Romita art. But unless others also treasured that art as well, then Mike would be paying far less. It takes more than one person to affect the market. If he was “hoarding” Vince Colletta art, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Richard Howell: If you’re one of those who enjoy the Kirby/Colletta THOR collaboration–and there are many who agree with you (many who don’t, too)–you’re in luck, because there are many, many pages from those issues on the market.

Doc V.: To which I’ll add that if anyone wants to get rid of that “crappy” Colletta romance art they might have, I’d gladly take it off your hands.

Ray Cuthbert: When the great inker Vince Colletta left the Kirby “Fourth World” books. Colletta’s rounded and romantic finesse was sadly lacking after that…

Ben Herman: No offense, Ray, but I have to disagree completely. When Kirby got rid of Vinnie “my best friend is my eraser” Colletta, the art improved.

Ray Cuthbert: No offense taken. My point is merely this: I liked Vince Colletta’s inking on Kirby most of the time. Vince had plenty of faults as an inker (like his erasures), but I liked what he brought to the table on Kirby’s work. There are only three inkers who worked on Kirby that I can think of who made Jack’s women look attractive — Wood, Sinnott and Colletta. Vince’s work as a top-flight romance artist made his inking of Kirby particularly appealing in my eyes.

Loston Wallace: I never cared much for Colletta’s inks over Jack, but I don’t hate them. In fact, I feel Colletta has gotten a little of a bum rap. Sure. He erased, hacked, and altered, but he was a professional. He got the job done. Mediocre or not, he was dependable. Don’t get me wrong. If Vinnie were alive today, I’d pray that he wouldn’t be the guy assigned to ink me. But there are two sides to every story. It seems Vinnie was interested in making money, not art. He was true to his convictions.

Tony Fornaro: How anyone can look at those Kirby/Colletta Thor’s and say “what crappy inks.” is beyond me. I personally believe that was the best Kirby art ever.

Greg Huneryager: I found the gallery very entertaining/ informative. It’s interesting but Colletta  doesn’t seem to be that bad a match with Toth,

Ken Quattro: I agree about Colletta’s inks over Alex Toth. As bad a rap as he gets for what he did with Kirby’s pencils, Colletta “fit” Toth nicely. Given the fact that he inked Toth frequently, I’d assume that Toth approved of his work. Toth didn’t much care for inkers who overworked his pencils and put their imprint on them. Colletta’s “strength” was that he used a spare line.

Ken: Just curious,…(and pardon my ignorance on this) but is Vince Colletta still with us? I know little about him other than, unlike many out there, I sincerely enjoyed his work on early Kirby Thor pages. As a matter of fact when and if I ever break down to get my example of Kirby (my TOS by Colan has to come first!) then a Thor page with Colletta inks would probably be my choice!

AH: ouch better be careful mentioning something like that can get you into trouble on this list =O. AH remembers the last Colletta arguments!

Paul Smith (Former Marvel and DC penciler): Vinnie did brilliant work at DC. Adams, Kane, Kirby, Vosburg, Grell and a host of lesser artists that no inker could’ve saved. You’re free not to like it but it doesn’t change the fact that Vinnie was one of the best.

John Byrne (Former Marvel and DC penciler): I always enjoyed the time I spent hanging out with Vinnie in the bullpen.

Erik Larsen: (Former Marvel and DC penciler):Years later, I look back and get a kick out of it. It was the last issue of Thor that Vinnie Colletta ever inked and the last issue Stan Lee ever scripted, so it was like I was filling in for Jack Kirby as part of the classic Thor creative team. In retrospect, it really wasn’t as bad as I seemed to think it was. And it one case, what I took to be a shortcut on Vinnie’s part aided the storytelling. Vinnie had made an incidental foreground figure bald, which, in retrospect, eliminated a distraction that helped focus the readers attention on what it should have been focused on: the battle, which raged behind him. This foreground figure was unimportant — the battle was.

Stan had a good eye for talent. Starting his career at Standard Comics, Colletta was soon chosen to illustrate almost every cover in the Timely-Atlas romance library. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Vince’s good girl art in the romance books helped draw attention to the fledgling publishing company that would one day become Marvel Comics.

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DREAM GIRLS COURTESY OF VINCE COLLETTA

Jack Adler (Former DC Editor and Colorist): Vinnie….Vinnie was a peach!

Elliott S! Maggin (Former DC Writer): Hey Frank, it’s great to trip over you.  I liked Vinnie quite a lot.  He was a great character and had a good deal of character to boot.

Stan: My man, Vinnie Colletta, beautiful women, intricate well thought-out inks, always on time-every time. Rest in Peace, Vince.

Jason Shayer: Let me preface this post by saying that I haven’t read much about Vince Colletta the man (and from the brief mentions of him that I have, he was a rather nice guy) and that this is a criticism of his work and not him personally…… Colletta’s inks always seemed to impose its own style rather than embellish the style of the penciller…. Vinnie erased background figures and simplified backgrounds and turned fully realized drawings into silhouettes….. As long as editors gave him work, he’d take the money and spit back the work as quickly as possible. Doing that meant taking shortcuts and Vinnie took shortcuts aplenty.”…… There’s no doubt over his career that Vince Colletta rescued hundreds of Marvel comics that were on the brink of missing deadlines. However, his work, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired……

Liquidwater: Web of Spider-Man illustrated by Silvestri and Colletta provides us with breathtakingly beautiful women – one of Vinnie’s trademarks. I also loved his Thor inks, the hell with what he erased, the finished products are masterpieces.

Jason Shayer: Hey Liquidwater, fair enough. Colletta’s early work on the Atlas/Marvel Romance books was quite good as well, especially the ladies.

Gormuu: It’s commonly accepted that Colletta drew the most beautiful women in the history of illustration.

ElectricPeterTork: Well, of course! He erased all those unsightly lines and wrinkles!

John Morrow (Publisher): Has this book changed my opinion of Vinnie and his work? In a lot of ways, it has, and I think that, love him or hate him, you’ll walk away from this book with a new appreciation and understanding of this colorful and controversial comic professional. I know I did.

Allen Smith: I can’t make any judgments about whose life was more exciting (Kirby or Colletta), but I’d buy a book about Vinnie.

CaptainJersey: As I was growing up I think two of the first artists that stood out for me were Dick Giordano and Vince Colletta… both for the beautiful women they drew. To this day, I’ll always think of Vince Colletta as a man who drew beautiful women. I have learned more about his inking habits over the years, but whenever someone shows me one of his panels, I always marvel at the lovely ladies, rather than what is not present.

Michael Netzer (Former Marvel and DC penciler): When looking at Vinnie’s work from outside of the context of being a comics penciler, it’s usually very proficient and has a special quality to it. The way he was judged was similar to how Michelangelo’s students would react to Van Gogh or Picasso. That’s probably why some people simply love his Thor run on Kirby while others despise it because they judge it based on Kirby’s pencils.

Vinnie was a very helpful art director at DC. He always took time to engage artists about their work and help them approach it more professionally. For all that’s said about him, he was very suitable for that position and elevated the art craftsmanship at DC during his tenure. He was also a very nice guy who helped artists move ahead in their career. It was Vinnie who once suggested to me that I come up with a new female character because DC was looking for one – and that’s how the idea for Ms. Mystic was born.

On the one hand, it’s unfortunate that an unflattering reputation stuck to him. On the other, this has spawned a new look at his work since his passing away, and has raised a strong voice of admiration and support for him in fandom. That’s certainly better than if no one cared about it one way or the other.

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