An inspiration came to Jack Kirby one day. This wasn’t unusual since Jack’s mind was in a constantly creative mode. The moment he and Stan Lee made the decision to move forward with the Asgardian adventures of Thor the Thunder God, all of comicdom stood up and took notice. From the start, as it became the new feature saga in the Journey into Mystery series, the concept was a hit.

Thor art by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta

Beginning with issue #83, Journey into Mystery  became Thor’s book. Jack penciled most of the covers and stories, of course, while the finished art was supplied by various inkers such as Joe Sinnott, Dick Ayers, Steve Ditko, Al Hartley, Sol Brodsky, George Ruossos, Chic Stone, Paul Reinman and Don Heck. Using bold, graphic-style inks, the stories were good but the art resembled most of  Marvel’s other books. That is until issue # 106 when Thor was transformed from contemporary to primal. The mythological land of Asgard was born.

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

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

Dane Bjorklund: Several of the early THOR and Tales of Asgard issues were inked by a gentleman named Vince Colletta. I think that his name has become linked with his THOR work and the THOR comics that Mr. Colletta inked were among the best. THOR #126 is my favorite comic book cover of all time, drawn by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta.

Thor art by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta

Vince Colletta had always admired the great artist and storyteller Hal Foster.  The delicately rendered Prince Valiant stories gave my father the idea of speaking to Stan and Jack about presenting Thor in a different light. By creating a rough-hewn world more reminiscent of Norse legends, Journey into Mystery’s backup story, Tales of Asgard, gave readers a glimpse into Thor’s world. And right from the first story the controversies began. While Tales of Asgard was hailed as a creative breakthrough by most – I remember the pride that Vinnie felt reading and hearing the accolades – some comic book fans voiced displeasure with the artistic departure.

Rick Young: It amazed me the first time I saw criticism of Vince Colletta’s work. I get that he simplified some of Jack’s backgrounds and I like those intricate details. This panel (This Battleground Earth) has such a rich/finished look that is typical of Kirby & Colletta.

Erik Larsen: In the back issues I recently bought there were rave letters when Vinnie started inking Tales of Asgard.

Erik Larsen: But please–don’t confuse popularity with quality. McDonald’s has served billions of hamburgers, after all.

Pierre Comtois: Overnight it seemed, with Vince Colletta replacing Stone, the regular Thor strip acquired the same timeless, antique feel as Colletta’s work over Kirby in the Tales of Asgard feature.  The inking style changed the whole feel of the book, making even down-to-earth stories such as those featuring the return of the Absorbing Man seem grander than they would’ve been with Stone.  Whether it was the inspiration of Colletta’s inking, a continuation of the kind of stories that they’d been telling in Tales of Asgard or simply the trend that Marvel had been drifting towards through its first two phases, Lee, Kirby and Colletta now launched the Thor strip into an unprecedented series of inter-connected stories whose structure was unlike anything done in comics before.

The fine line work, delicate cross-hatching and detailed delineation of anatomical features were a source of annoyance to readers used to seeing “comic book art.” But by issue #116, Journey into Mystery, Thor and Asgard were all Jack and Vinnie and they became what many fans and professionals alike still feel is the greatest comic-book series ever – Thor.

David Philpott: I enjoyed the Kirby/Colletta Thors as a kid (bought as back issues). And I still enjoy them 25 years later. They are quality entertainment. The Tales of Asgard back ups rocked.

Allen Montgomery: I got the Tales of Asgard hardcover not too long ago. They were definitely playing to the newsprint back in the day. And not just Colletta. All the inkers turned in some pretty rough work. Colletta was the only one that attempted texture of any kind. The rest seemed to favor the “blotch” technique.

George: I don’t think Thor as a book worked until Colletta came on board. As good an inker as Stone was on Kirby he was too nice for the Asgardian world. The only other inker who came close was George Roussos in some of the early “Tales of Asgard”.

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.

Klar Ken T5477:  I like VC’s inking on Thor too. Why not denigrate Chic Stone or Syd Shores as well? Vinnie met his deadlines and his work on the Kirby DC’s was far superior to Royer and D. Bruce Berry.

Mark Engblom: You’re right….Colletta did a pretty good job on the Kirby Thor comics. Just as with Sinnott’s inks, Colletta was able to “soften” the blunt and (occasionally) grotesque extremes of Kirby’s pencils.

Thor art by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta

A common criticism of Vince Colletta’s superhero inks has to do with the numerous “scritchy-scratchy” pen lines he used to define musculature. Rather than the quick brush swipes and symmetrical shadow lines used by others, Vinnie preferred the illustrative approach he learned in art school working with oils. He has been unfairly pigeonholed as one-dimensional, however, as the image above clearly proves, Colletta could ink in a bold, graphic style with the best of them.

PunyHuman: Beautiful, positively Beautiful (Tales of Asgard)!! What a spectacular collection !!

Tom Lammers: I know a lot of folks don’t like Colletta as an inker, especially over Kirby pencils, but I say as a penciler for this kind of story, he is excellent. He had a real flair for capturing emotion, as the heroine vacillates between sheer joy and dejection, interspersed with uncertainty, pensiveness, and regret.

Jay Kinney: There are some people, me included, who think that the “Tales of Asgard” artwork is the best of any by good old Jack. Vince’s inkings are great and seem to catch the ancient flavor.

Andrew W. Farago: Not to damn these books with faint praise, but Thor’s got to be the best superhero inking of Vince Colletta’s career (Colletta’s romance art has its moments). In black and white, especially in the Tales of Asgard stories, there’s a bit of a Prince Valiant vibe to the artwork which I don’t think would have been there with someone like Joe Sinnott inking the series, which probably would have taken the book in entirely different directions.

Alan Kupperberg (Former Marvel Artist): And then, my last issue 328. Vinnie Colletta finally inks my Thor. I went out with nice inks.

Lyle Tucker: I love those Colletta THOR’s (and especially the TALES OF ASGARDS) and I stopped buying NEW GODS after Royer came aboard, because by that time Kirby needed Vince’s artistic eye to “fix” his increasingly sloppy work – for whatever that’s worth, I thought I’d set the record straight as far as where I stand on the merits of Vince’s inking (and, yes, he DID indeed draw some damn fine romances in the ’50s).”

Norris Burroughs: The amount of inking on this page alone (THOR 142) would overwhelm a less than confident inker, so we must praise Colletta for his sheer tenacity and remember that he was often called on to finish Kirby’s detailed pencils in order to meet a deadline.  Yes, he can be criticized for his faults, but we can also praise him for his strengths and accomplishments.

David J. Bromley: Many thanks for the even approach to a misunderstood & talented inker. Colletta had a ‘fine art’ approach that many cannot understand.

Aaron Noble: It’s in the “anatomy and fine detail” that you appreciate Colletta’s contributions.

jon m: Thor was a good book for Colletta, as opposed to FF which was a horrible match. I actually preferred his inks on the Fourth World books over Royer. Maybe it just eased the transition to DC.

Ian Miller: It’s sad that Colletta gets such a bad rap, because he was capable of some amazing work. If you ever get the chance to see any of the Kirby Thor pages he inked in person you’ll definitely see that he had some great chops. His feathering and fine linework took Kirby’s art in a more refined direction that you never really saw other inkers take advantage of.

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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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