Wednesday, 26 October 2011


VINCE COLLETTA is a name which seems to cause controversy
whenever it's mentioned these days.  Some comicbook fans think he
was great, others think he was okay, and then there's another group
who think he was the worst inker ever to work in the business.

Some JACK KIRBY fans in particular believe he ruined every page
of the King's work he ever touched.  Others think he transformed Jack's
THOR pages into a tour de force of illustrative brilliance which should
grace the Sistine Chapel.  Then there are those poor souls who can't
see the difference between one page and another, regardless of
whoever pencilled or inked it.

While it's true that Vince's inks may not have suited every artist
whose pencils he worked on, there are some whose art was definitely
enhanced by the touch of his pen and brush.  (GENE COLAN, JOHN
BUSCEMA, and FRANK ROBBINS, to name but three.)  Jack Kirby
was definitely on that list.  Vinnie diluted the idiosyncracies and ab-
stractness of Kirby's art, imbuing it with a rugged, realistic quality
that perfectly suited the mythical backdrop of Thor's adventures,
particularly when set in ASGARD.

I'm not alone in thinking that part of the reason for Colletta's bad
rep these days is based on poor quality reprints of his work in various
magazines back in the early '70s, printed from proofs in which his fine
detailing was lost and clumsily retouched by less-skilled hands.
(Using a blunt felt marker by the looks of things.)

However, back in the late '60s a U.K. publication called FANTASTIC
reprinted Thor's adventures from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, using
clear, sharp proofs for near-perfect black and white reproduction.  U.S.
spellings, colloquialisms and references were changed, creator credits
and corner page numbers were deleted, and open case sound-effects
were sometimes blacked-in or cross-hatched for greater impact in the
b&w format, but the art still looked great.

It gives me great pleasure to present Vince's inking of Jack's pencils more
or less the way they would have looked when they were first completed, as
opposed to the far inferior reprints which came later.  Enjoy.   

Click on image, when it appears, click again for optimum size.


Steve Does Comics said...

Love him on Thor. Hate him on the Fantastic Four. I really like him over artists like Art Saaf. His soft style was, for me, ideally suited to stories of a romantic bent.

As regards his tendency to remove figures from panels, call me Mr Controversial but most of the examples I've seen have benefited from his removal of superfluous figures. Then again, I can see why it'd drive the original artist up the wall.

Interesting that you like him on John Buscema because he's one of the artists I've always felt he didn't suit.

Kid said...

I haven't really seen him ink Buscema on anything other than Thor, Steve, and I thought that, just like with Kirby, it just somehow seemed to suit.

I've heard that Buscema didn't like to be inked by him, but, then again, he didn't like being inked by Alfredo Alcala on Conan either. Obviously Big John was just a little mental at times.

Steve Does Comics said...

I think Colletta inked Buscema on some of Buscema's early Avengers tales before George Klein took over - things like the one where the Whirlwind dropped Ant-Man down an ant's nest without his helmet, the one with the Red Guardian and the one where Goliath tackled Dragon Man. Admittedly I'm saying all this from memory, so I could be wrong.

Kid said...

I think you're right - I remember them now. It's just that his Thor ones made more of an impression on me. I thought Colletta's inking of Gene Colan's Sub-Mariner pages was good too.

Couse said...

Maybe John Buscema is the best one to judge who suits inking him? Colletta was good inking figures but poor on hardware.

Kid said...

John may have been the best judge as as to how HE liked his artwork to look, but as to how I like it to look, it's ME.

Great as John's Conan pages were, they were all the better for Alcala inking them. Same with Thor - to a degree. Vinnie's inks sure seemed to suit Thor for some reason.

Georgie Roussell said...

Those scans of Kirby-Colletta Thor art were some of the best I've seen but you can still see that some lines were lost.

Nice article.

Kid said...

Yeah, but on a minor scale compared to later reprints. Trouble was that Marvel made stats of the original artwork, then, whenever they needed future copies, they made them from either that first stat or a copy of it, hence the deterioration.

One of the FF pages (inked by Colletta) that I restored for a Masterworks volume, was okay when I turned it in. However, by the time it was printed, it had suffered further 'line dropout' from the process of Marvel having made a copy of it to be coloured.

Thanks for commenting.

Couse said...

A good inker will enhance the pencilers style. Alcala swamped them with his own style. No wonder Buscema didn't like it. If Alcala's inking failed to convey the look that Buscema wanted then we've got to respect big John B's opinion as the one that counts.

Kid said...

A good inker will do what the editor wants, not the artist. Presumably, the editor gave Big John's pencilled pages to Alcala because he liked the finished result.

In the same way that, on Challengers of the Unknown, Kirby's pages looked better inked by Wally Wood than anyone else, so too, on Conan, did Buscema's under Alcala.

It amounted to a finished result that was better than the sum of its parts.

Anonymous said...

If Kirby or Buscema wanted a different result they should inked the pages themselves. Once they handed the pages over to the inkers they lost any right to complain. TRUTH

Kid said...

I remember when Buscema inked his own pencils on a couple (I think) of FF stories. His inks certainly weren't any better than Colletta's in those instances, in my humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

I loved Colletta's inks on Kirby's Thor but I really disliked almost everything else he did especially on artists like the Buscema brothers and Robbins (so underrated its criminal)I don't think he's a bad artists (far from it) just that I didn't like his style = McScotty

Kid said...

Well, yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice.

Martin Gray said...

Great to see those pin-sharp pages. I know of Colletta's rep but I generally liked his stuff, all those lush blacks.

It's a shame that individual inking styles don't see to be encouraged so much these days, I love seeing actual different finishes over pencillers. Look at what Karl Kesel could do to Rob Liefeld work, or Ian Akin and Brian Garvey over Steve Ditko.

Ronson said...

Wasn't there a rumour that the only reason Stan kept giving a hack inker like Colletta work was that Vinnie was connected to the mob?

Kid said...

Alas, there are always rumours. Undoubtedly Vinnie 'knew' people, but I'm unaware of any actual 'connection' being confirmed.

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