LOVE VINNIE COLLETTA? NO APOLOGY NECESSARY

Art lovers, comic book aficionados, fanboys…whatever we prefer to call ourselves, are often  judged by the opinions of our peers. Controversies abound on subjects like “Did Stan or Jack create the Marvel universe” or the quality of current comic book art compared to the artistic efforts of days gone by. And as is true in the realms of politics and religion, our opinions often frame who we are in the minds of others. As crazy as it sounds, people are chastised and even shunned because of their likes and dislikes. Some of us set our hair on fire over superheroes or the creators who generated these products. Take the case of one Vincent Colletta – prolific and oft-debated artist of the Golden, Silver and Bronze eras of comic books. If you like his work, should you have to apologize for it?

Seth Smith: Definitely one of the best Colletta covers. Seems like just a few years ago you wouldn’t have been able to post such praise for Vinnie without some deluded fanboy hunting you down.

Ray Cuthbert: I’ve said it before — Colletta brought romance sensibilities to Kirby’s bold and dynamic pencils, which is why Colletta-inked Kirby gals were so pretty while Royer’s and others were not, in MY opinion.

Ray Cuthbert: I’d be in big trouble on the Kirby-L. I prefer Stan & Jack to Jack and Jack, and I prefer Kirby/Colletta to Kirby/Royer!!!!

Doc V: Aarrgghhh!!!!! You’d be doomed, Ray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Coop: Damn right!

Bill Howard: On my tombstone it shalt read, “And he dared to like Vinnie Colletta.”

Over the years I’ve taken great pleasure from reading debates about my father. It’s nice to discover complimentary comments and I’m sometimes annoyed by unwarranted criticisms. The most absolutely precious gems in my collection of quotes, though, are the many examples of apologetic praise a few of which I’ll share.

Scooter: Damn! My whole world’s falling apart…(actually I quite like Vinnie’s Tales of Asgard work).

Ucleben: I like Mooney!! ‘Course I like a lot of Colletta’s work too. Different tastes, I guess.

Lyle Tucker:    Here’s where we differ – I LOVE Vinnie’s Tales of Asgard work.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I hope I don’t get stoned for this but I always liked Vince Colletta’s work better than Mike Royer’s.

Plok: You know, personally, I’m kind of a fan of ol’ Rich’s…but then I like Vince Colletta’s inking, too, so I’m not sure you can go by me.

Ivan Rakitic: I know this will probably get me in trouble, but Vince Colletta was always my favorite inker on Kirby.

Al Sjoerdsma: I am among the minority who actually like Colletta’s inking on Kirby’s Thor, bringing it an airiness that fits into the fantasy of that strip.

Punyhuman: I also love his Thor art inked by Vince Colletta, even though I’ll catch hell for it! I loved it way back in the 60’s when I was buying it off the newsstands, it’s nostalgic now.

The Most Beautiful Women on Earth – Vince Colletta, Life and Art contains a thousand assessments from every slant. Many thanks to those who send them to me –  but it is the remarks that come with qualifiers; defensive praise, if you will, that continue to entertain me beyond anything.

Mel Higgins: I don’t know what it is, but the Kirby Thor combination kills me. This is also my first exposure to a silver-age Kirby page (I have a Captain Victory page) and I was floored when I saw the Thor page in person when it arrived today. So much energy there. I can’t stop looking at it. I know that Vince Colletta is not considered the best inker on the Thor pages, but I think he did a tremendous job on this one.

Ray Cuthbert: Congratulations Mel! The first Kirby page I ever bought was also a Kirby/Colletta Thor page (now long gone). Quite frankly, I always thought that the two artists were a perfect match for the subject matter. Kirby’s power and Colletta’s rounded edges and romantic sensibilities made Thor the title it was for me. Kirby + Sinnott on FF, but Kirby + Colletta on Thor (or the DC Fourth World stuff — for me, anyway!)

Lynn Walker: I’m embarrassed to admit I prefer the Colletta inks, but not by much.

Prof H: ANYWAY… after 3 horrible issues, Vince Colletta took over… and was a HUGE improvement!!! (Mark Evanier disagrees, but to hell with his opinion.)

Ray Plasse: Despite Colleta’s shortcuts I really enjoyed the different look he gave Jack and Thor but hey……….I was only a kid then so what did I know?

Chris Murrin: I like Everett, but Colletta was my favorite. I know, I know…but still, he’s my favorite on Thor.

Iron Maiden: I have a confession to make about Jack Kirby’s “Thor”. I liked some of the art better in that title than some of his FF work but I would probably get scorned by Kirby purists… they hate any of his work to be touched by Vince Colletta!

Merlin Haas: Colletta has many, many faults, but I’m going to commit heresy and say that sometimes he removed some unnecessary background clutter and the finished panel read better than the original.

Mike Driscoll: It looks like Colletta inking. I’m one of the few that likes Vince Colletta.

Henry R. Kujawa: This time, inks are from Vince Colletta– and what surprises me is, it LOOKS REAL GOOD!!

Patrick McEvoy: I know I’m nuts, but as good (and accurate) as McLeod’s inks are, I prefer the Colletta version. I know, it’s a personal failing.

Mark Borello: Yeah! Love Colletta. Love Colletta’s inks on Kirby…Go on…throw your rocks….

Allen Smith: I’m gonna ignore you guys.  You’re turning me into a Colletta fan, almost!

Stan Taylor: What in the Hell kind of parallel/alternate/Bizarro Universe is this new list?????? 😉 People saying nice things about Vinnie. It has left me speechless!!!!!!

Doc V: Hey! Do you think our old pal Bruce Lowry would’ve liked this list? Blake might have had to ban him after he responded to this Colletta love-fest!

Plausible Prose Man: This page shows us that Vince wasn’t such a bad draughtsman after all. I might upgrade him from “hack” to “jobber”

Tom Field: When I was a kid in the ’70s, I was nuts for Sal’s CAPTAIN AMERICA – still am — and much of that run was inked by Vinnie Colletta!

Al Gordon: Wow! A Jack Page Inked by Vinnie that I don’t hate! Few and Far Between.

GrapeApe: As much as I hate to say it, I have seen worse. At least Vinnie got a nice thick and thin outline mixed in with his scratching and erasing.

Mister M: I never knew there were pro- and anti-Vince Colletta factions. Go figure.

Doc V.: Whereas I followed the 4th World stuff while Colletta inked it, I soon dropped out after Royer took over (yes, I’m one of THOSE)….

Mikeyriffhard: And say what you will about Vinnie Colletta, but I think his inks on this title were absolutely perfect. But that’s me…

John S: I was gonna say that I thought Vinnie did a pretty good job on this page…but I won’t, ’cause I don’t want Krackles to have a seizure!

Ferran Delgado: Not even Colletta could ruin his powerful storytelling…Although I painfully  agree that he did worse jobs than this one…

Profh0011:  Coming soon: I just read a DD comic where Colletta inked Colan–AND HE DID A DAMN GOOD JOB!!! What’s the world coming to???

Bill Howard: Personally, I like Colletta’s inks on Thor, but I realize I’m in the minority. Why did you buy the piece in the first place, if you didn’t like Vinnie’s inks? It’s not like you didn’t know what you were getting. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. The last thing I would call Colletta’s inking is inept, but I don’t want to resuscitate that old argument…

Ianto: Best inker? The Akina and Garvey team from back when. Or maybe Dan Green. The hair always looked so good in his books. Worst? I actually liked Colletta so I can’t list him.

Roquefort Raider: I think the Classic Board regulars may help limit the number of immature arguments. Hey, we can even argue the merits of Frank Robbins’ art or Vince Colletta’s inks in a civil fashion!

Dan Bailey: *ahem* Sez you!

Guy Dorian, Sr.: I have come to appreciate Vinnie more now that I am older and wiser… but still hate most of it.

T_Guy: As far as the art goes, it must be said that Colan and Colletta is better than I had expected- (On Tomb of Dracula #2) but, on the other hand, I had expected Colletta to completely ruin Colan’s delicate work. His style does actually work over Colan’s, much as admitting this feels like having a tooth extracted.

Divided into sharply polarized factions over the merits and faults of Vince Colletta, fans have vaulted this seemingly innocuous conversation into publishing lore. The great Aussie comic book artist, Eddie Campbell, had an interesting take on the phenomenon with which I’ll end this article. Love Vinnie Colletta? Don’t apologize. Buy the Book!

Eddie Campbell: A while back I wrote a post here about how Colletta was my favourite comic book inker of the 1960s. For some unfathomable reason beyond all absurdity, it was and continues to be the most visited post I’ve written. I almost said popular there, but that would be the wrong word, for I was vilified in many places for uttering such an opinion. Even people you would think could not possibly give a hoot, I found them stopping me in the street, in San Diego during the convention, the only place everybody knows my name, sadly, and even somebody such as Gary Groth had to get his two cents in and call me an idiot. People generally can’t stand by and allow you to have an opinion they don’t share.

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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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