Storytime Comics: Glad to see that this thread has begun to actually discuss Colletta’s art. Anyway, all this thinking about Colletta made me actually want to, you know, look at some of his work again. (Imagine that!) So last night I cracked open my Thor Masterworks volume 2 to the Tales of Asgard stories from Journey into Mystery 109 and 110. Lo and behold, I had the same reaction I have every time I encounter his work on Thor: I’m totally prepared to hate it, or have it not be as good as I remember, but, no, it’s just perfect for the series, and very well done in its own right. Despite the really (really) lousy repro and printing in my original-27 Masterworks volume, Colletta’s work just stands out as unlike any other inker’s approach to Kirby, and totally suited to the material. In the words of GammaJosh, “I loves me some ’60s Thor!”

The Nostalgia League: Now, in his defense, I must say that Colletta did some fine work during his career. The early romance work he did in the 50s stands on a par with some of the work of Alex Toth. Some, although not all, of the inking he did on George Tuska’s Iron Man was good, if not downright beautiful, at times. There is also a strange melding of styles when Colletta inked Kirby on Thor …that seems to capture the raw power of gods in battle.

It seems that for many years, Colletta had been the inker who Marvel or DC would go to if they had a very short deadline. The pages I, and others, had so reviled over the years were the result of deadline crunches. Colletta was known to turn out completed books virtually overnight, so the deadlines on the comics could be met. The lack of detail, in many instances, was simply a way to get the finished product to the printer on time. DC understood this and, by appointing him art director, made sure that he would be available to handle all the deadline crunches they could throw at him. As proof of this, my source related that it was a regular thing at the DC offices to arrive at work in the morning to find Colletta asleep on the couch in his office and a stack of finished pages sitting on his drawing board; another all-nighter behind him.

Among the criticisms often leveled at Vince Colletta’s art points to his practice of silhouetting characters and backgrounds. Although these panels were far less common than his fully fleshed-out pencils and inks, they curiously remain a source of annoyance to some art critics.


Art is imagination realized. The artist visualizes the scene and then puts it on paper. The reader’s imagination does the rest. The best representative silhouettes are done by skilled artists who can draw portraits, usually have fine art degrees, and can see shadow and form.


In order to convey emotion in a panel in which the main figures are drawn in silhouette, an artist must have a great facility for illustrating body language. Scholars believe Etienne de Silhouette’s name became connected with these black and white portraits because of the finance minister’s extreme cost-cutting. de Silhouette doubtless had many detractors.

Selective shadowing provides a bold palette for splashes of color to be added for effect. Silhouettes can be used to emphasize and alter a woman’s shape to create a flattering illusion. Understanding different silhouettes can help the artist create the most complimentary one for his subject.

Even in staid panels, silhouetting lends itself to creating  more interesting scenes. Late afternoon on a sunlit beach provides wonderful opportunities for artists to use silhouettes and extreme shading.

Leading silhouette artists of the second half of the 18th century and the early 19th century, the golden age of the art, included Francis Torond, A. Charles, John Miers, C. Rosenburg, Mrs. Brown, Auguste Edouart, T. Hamlet, and Mrs. Beetham (née Isabella Robinson). Leading contemporary silhouette artists include Vince Colletta and many others of which little is written regarding this particular technique.

Before photography, silhouettes were the way to have a profile made without having to have an expensive portrait commissioned, and cost about a penny a piece. They were referred to as the “poor man’s portrait.”

Al Bigley: Never a Vinnie fan, but gotta stick up for him. He saved SO many deadlines (when that mattered, far more than creating “art”), sometimes rescuing the oh-so-precocious “fan favorites” who took way too much time on their pages, back when this was a periodical business that got slapped with huge fees for missing press deadlines. He was a real MAN doing a job.

This wonderful art-filled biography of Vincent Colletta comes replete with hundreds of comments, criticisms and glimmers of faint praise that all cast a very bright light on an exciting and controversial life.

Love comic book history? Want a glimpse into the world of production art? Have an appreciation of beautiful women? Buy the book!

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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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