A TIMELY AWAKENING FOR ROMANCE ART IN COMIC BOOKS

Vince Colletta Romance Art

TIMELY-ATLAS ROMANCE COVERS BY VINCE COLLETTA

For comic book aficionados, the Vince Colletta story begins in 1952. After art school and a brief career as a portrait painter and muralist, he was introduced to the world of publishing by a family friend who suggested comic books.

Standard Publications was the first door he knocked on. It turned out to be Vinnie’s lucky day. He was given an assignment – just a few pages of a romance story, “then we’ll see how it goes from there” his editor said. My dad was excited. A young husband and father, his foray into oil painting was a critical success and earned him a living but it hardly proved lucrative. Manhattan now beckoned.

Only a few months passed before Colletta was also drawing stories for Timely-Atlas Publishing -the company that one day would become mighty Marvel. What a crazy transition going from portraits to cartoons but, in a way, an organic circular progression for the boy who loved to draw pictures on paper bags in his father’s grocery store.

Stan Lee ran the show at Timely back then and the way Vinnie illustrated females excited him. Thus began an “all work you can handle” career that spanned 40 years. It wasn’t just the provocative poses and sensual embraces but also the illustrative details that, before then, had never been seen in comic books.

By the late 1950s, Vinnie began to focus on production art. The girls were just as beautiful but the art took on a simplicity unlike previous years. As the volume of work mounted, he took on assistants who would do everything from layouts to inking backgrounds. It became known as the Colletta Studio and became a stopping point for famous artists such as Wood, Baker, Sinnott, Steranko, Giordano, Giacoia and Orlando.

Eventually, the implosion of the comic book trade happened which pretty much ground an entire industry to a halt. Those publishing companies that survived severely cut back the number of titles. Never one to wait for opportunities, my father solicited work from small publishers such as Charlton and Dell – a Godsend not only for Vinnie but also the artists who came to depend on him to bring in the work.

The early Timely-Atlas romance art by Vince Colletta is a joy to look at. It has the depth one expects to find in fine art and it’s evocative. You want to plant a kiss on every one of Vinnie’s girls. The most beautiful women on earth. Who knew they could be found in the pages of a comic book?

From an interview with Vinnie’s daughter Roseannette: Q:  Vinnie’s women are considered to be the most beautiful in comics. Why do you think he had such a talent for drawing females?

A: Because he thought women were beautiful. He was born in Sicily which is steeped in hundreds of years of sculpture and painting of the human form. It’s embedded in the culture and maybe in the genes

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMEN ON EARTH, VINCE COLLETTA – LIFE AND ART is an enormous book featuring a compelling memoir of the artist. I want you to be so immersed in this world that you can’t put it down. It’s a view into a different time, place and culture. You’ll also read a thousand comments and conversations, an extraordinary number of them apologetically praising his work. And there’s those incredibly gorgeous women. Very few of Vinnie’s contemporaries ever matched the realism he provided with pencil and pen.