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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THE STAN LEE EFFECT

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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