Thursday, May 03, 2007

In Review Of: Vinne Colletta

20th Century Danny Boy offers up a fascinating post two days ago, which, if you go back to '80's Marvel and the Jim Shooter reign, dredges up a ton of dirt and manure and doesn't even attempt to bulldoze it back into a recognizable form when all is done. Danny gives us a scan of Colletta's "exit interview", a scathing letter written to other Marvel editors, and a long, anonymous interview/discussion with Vinnie about Shooter's firing. It's behind the scenes more than you ever wanted to do, and its fascinating as all hell. Once and for all it should dispel any rumours that all was well and good at the House of Secret Wars, and it should also dispel the idea that editors pick artists for a book solely on their brush lines.
He also indeed did take a lot of shortcuts in his work, in some cases he erased the pencils so he'd not have to ink them. Jack Kirby would draw detailed backgrounds only to see them simplified by Colletta. Yet there were other sides to Vinnie.
Eddie Campbell joins in with a very on target appraisal of Colletta's strengths,
his finishing style was distant from the superhero house styles at both DC (Murphy/Giella) and Marvel (Sinnott/Giacoia). But he was fast and dependable. Ah Fate! An artist's strength becomes his undoing.
as well as noting something that I noticed years ago: you can't judge by reprints, which most folks have to do. This directly effects those who use small lines, whether by brush to feather out (and the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby/Syd Shores '40's Captain Americas suffer greatly in this regard) or using a crow-quill pen, which Vinnie used a lot of in Thor and elsewhere.

So how to appraise Colletta without damning him or covering over his faults? If you liked his talents, and clearly he knew his way around a pen nib, then enjoy the original printings of his Thor. If you didn't like his work, and I thought that most everything he did was crap, even if he did get it in on time, then forget it and move on.

But... as Eddie brings up, there is the notion that artist can get trapped in his own reputation. I got caught in the same trap that Colletta did: I made a point of making myself as someone that never missed a deadline, and in making myself valuable by getting work out, I compromised the work, thinking that the editors would finally reward me with the good job on a regular deadline... and instead they start to look at you as a hack. (Nice. Nice way to get people to work hard for you.)

The question here is: why would Thor or the FF ever be late? We know the speed that Jack could produce pages, its documented fact. There is no reason that Thor should ever be late. Or FF #40 for that matter. Two of the fastest guys in the business and they can't keep up on the regular deadlines for the book? Doesn't jibe for me. Occasional rush issue fine, but month after month?

Any answers?

edited to add: Mark Evanier brings up the same point about Thor not being late in his column here that I did. And doesn't mince words on how bad Vinnie's work was. Good for him.


Anonymous said...

Vince Colletta made everyone around him better-Jack Kirby, Jim Shooter, Stan Lieber, Marvel and DC as a whole...I loved reading the transcript of the conversation and it rings absolutely true. As someone who knew Vinnie for many years I can say that. As for the lowlifes of the business, Paul Levitz, Carmine Infantino, Stan Lieber, Tom DeFalco...your destinies are, for now, unknown but as we all know, what goes around, comes around.

Anonymous said...

By the way, who is this nobody named Mark Evanier?

Dan McFan said...

Thor was late because they threw Vince an X-Men or other book that needed to be inked over the weekend. Did this happen every month? Go find out instead of patting Mark Evanier on the back. "Good for him"? Exactly. Self-serving crap. I am blogging Evanier at

Anonymous said...

Good article except for the editorializing. I agree with the commenter who took you to task for writing "good for you". I thought Colletta's work was OK and also that he never got a fair shake from "fans" like you.