Thursday, August 6, 2009

Comic Book Inker of Note: Vince Colletta

If you look online you will see a variety of different opinions regarding former Marvel and DC inker Vincent Colletta. Some of the views come from fans and some from people who dislike his work or the man behind the work. The fans usually refer to the amazing volume of work by Colletta, as he worked many books each month, and did so with speed. The non-fans usually point to the same thing, that his work is sparse compared to other inkers, and suppose that it was due to the speed in which he worked. Fans say he was a rescue worker at the publishers, saving books from being late. Non-fans suggest that they’d prefer late and better work. Vincent Colletta’s claim to fame beyond speed is his work with Jack Kirby and some romance comics from earlier eras. Being that you are reading this, you likely wonder what I think about his work. It is a normal thought. Jack Kirby was the first artist I could identify by sight and know that his work was good. When I became more sophisticated in my views I grew to dislike the inks done to his pencils by Vincent Colletta, while I never felt the same towards any of his other inkers. I did not assume then, because I didn’t know, that it was speed, I simply didn’t like it.

But I appreciate that the person of Vincent Colletta worked hard, however the end result, because amongst other things, I realize art is about taste. I am not a fan of the work, and while I’ve heard a large amount of stories about Colletta by many of the artists in comics who I know, I do not suppose them all to be true. There are many other things I could say, but few have to do with his work, or even much the man himself. Most are arguments about the legacy of his work, and stories about the man. And of course there are debates online about things almost nobody witnessed first hand. So like him or not, Vincent Colletta was an inker who should be remembered for many good things, and perhaps some less than good things. Beyond that is not my point.

Two different considerations of Vincent Colletta’s work

Reasons to dislike Vince Colletta and his work

Reasons to like Vince Colletta and his work

Two different views:

Len Wein, Writer at DC and Marvel, on what he enjoyed most about working on Luke Cage: "Getting to work with the wonderful George Tuska, before Vinnie Colletta got his hands on the pencils and ruined them."

Jim Shooter EIC Of Marvel Comics : “He (Frank Miller) ended up getting a small job from Western Publishing, I think. Thus emboldened, he went to DC, and after getting savaged by Joe Orlando, got in to see art director Vinnie Colletta, who recognized talent and arranged for him to get a one-page war-comic job."

Search his work on the comic book data base


Steve Chaput said...

It would take someone much better schooled in art than I am to criticize Colletta. I don't think the man was the best inker that ever took a heavy brush to Kirby, but not the worst. As you point out the man has both his fans and those who dislike just about everything he did.

alex-ness said...

Well I accept a variety of thoughts about any creative talent, because even if I don't care for their work, I am sure, usually, there are others who do.

Alan Coil said...

Colletta used to erase some of Kirby's pencils so he wouldn't have to ink them.

Colletta also used a lot of other people to do the inking for him. That is how he got so many pages inked. He took the money under the pretense that he was going to do the inks, yet didn't always do them. Pretty dishonest.

alex-ness said...

I am aware of his choices and the stories about his actions, and I am not here saying he deserved the reputation and stories or not. If he did those things or not, he nonetheless still did the good things of inking 3000 or more books.

dan said...

Nice article, Alexander.

You wrote: "Non-fans suggest that they’d prefer late and better work."

Check into how much more Marvel or DC would have been charged by Creative Color to print books received after deadline.

Then ask those "non-fans" whether they would have paid $5 each for their well-inked comic books.

Unfortunately, the blame for all of the late books that Colletta had to knock out over a weekend falls upon the writer, penciler or inker who turned his work in late in the first place. But the Alan Coils of the world find it easier to get on the I-hate-Vinnie bus than figure things out for themselves. Comic fans, at least the ones who post things online are so fvcking stupid, aren't they?

Thanks for writing to me. I had a few well-wishers, etc. that I wanted to write back to. Good luck with your blog.

alex-ness said...

as I suggest earlier, it is not for me to judge, as I think the debate is on neither side fairly considered. Was his work on those quickly done books beautiful? No. Would I spend five dollars on the book? No. So we are at a roadblock.

Could Colletta ink? Yes.
Could he ink fast? Yes.
Did his work look as good fast as not fast? Probably not.

But VC did do a shiteload of work and that in itself says something. Editors won't hire if you are lacking in talent or speed.

I don't think Comic fans in general are stupid, and Alan Coil is truly not stupid (He might be cranky or curmudgeony). But opinions are not always fairly delivered between fans, online or not.

smurfthumper said...

He could be good when he felt like it. His inking of his own work is pretty tight, and his inks of others could be pretty tight, too. It seemed to be increasingly less often the case that they were any good as went on. (Also: It's hard to know what's even his, in the latter years.) Some of his worst inks looked like they were roller-ball tracings executed in under a minute. They are startlingly bad. They don't even look like they were done by an adult, in some cases.

Again, though, he could be good. Wasted talent is frustrating.

Alan Coil said...

Dan said:

"Then ask those "non-fans" whether they would have paid $5 each for their well-inked comic books."

Oh, please. Comics were mostly 12 cents back then. NOBODY would have tried to charge $5 for any comic. That's just a silly statement.

Dan also said:

"Comic fans, at least the ones who post things online are so fvcking stupid, aren't they?"

Now, Dan, you are posting online, too.

I don't hate Vinnie. Never met him. But I do hate the crappy inking he supplied. I have seen several comics where he did a good job, but mostly, he just hacked it out.