Sunday, July 06, 2008

Vinnie Colletta Redux: Its not the man, its the work

Nothing seems to keep getting the email like my post on Vinnie Colletta from almost a year ago. Lets go back and revisit the subject because, like most people, I hate getting emails that attack the messenger for the message.
Lets go back to what I hope my point was: that Vinnie rushed through his work, that much we know and can all agree upon, not that he was a bad artist. In re-reading my original post, I wanted to make sure that I did not make the cardinal mistake of attacking man, and no, I don't think that I did anywhere in there.

Facts: I never met Vinnie, and have no knowledge of him other than all the stories that I heard from the people who actually knew him. I'm a generation removed from actual Vinnie stories. I have no doubt, as McSplurge below says, that conversation rings true. The conversation in question shows that the comic business is as petty and as much a business as any other, and that the people are more than human in their faults. I have my own issues with Shooter (and not with Levitz or DeFalco as I simply didn't work with them), so I don't need Vinnie's issues. But I didn't call anyone to task for being a "lowlife", this is all about the art.

And the reality, I believe, is this: Vinnie could ink, when he wanted to take the time. I actually like his approach to Thor with the thin crowquill lines. They added an interesting look and texture that old metal printing plates were actually able to keep up with. It really complimented the "feel" of the book, which was very different from what Kirby/Sinnott were doing over in the FF. As well, we know from the romance stuff from the '50's that Vinnie could draw when he wanted to, or when he took the time. But many times on Thor, and even more often on his DC work in the late 1970's, Vinnie continually took shortcuts and didn't give the work his due. That is what pisses me off. And that is why I applauded Evanier's post at the time. Just because someone has died, I don't feel the need to make them a saint. I'm sorry that it might hurt people's feelings, but the printed work is the printed work, and much of what went out with Vinnie's name was substandard work, because he felt the need to take it all on and crank it out.

I dislike sloppy, careless or just plain bad work. And I reserve the right to call anyone on that. Including myself. Not everything that I did was gold, believe me. And I would never claim it as such. But from a professional standpoint, Vinnie didn't take care of business, which in my book is delivering your money book, not just hitting the deadlines, in this case Thor in the '60's, in pristine condition.

Rule #1 for the working inker: Don't over commit yourself so much that you can't deliver the pages in good condition. Rule #2 for the working inker: Don't use politics to cover up your mistakes. Eventually, it won't work. That is the problem with depending on connections to get inking assignments: eventually the regime changes, and if your work doesn't speak for itself, you're in trouble. That's Marvel in the early 1980's for Vinnie right there.
Below is a list of the comments from my original post. You're welcome to reread the original post as well to see if I actually attacked the man himself.

McSplurge 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.

5:13 PM

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OpenID McSplurge said...

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

5:15 PM

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Blogger 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 http://ismarkevaniermentallyill.blogspot.com/

6:06 PM

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Anonymous 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.

3 comments:

liquidwater said...

Good article about Vince Colletta. I disagree that he did sloppy work and also feel that he never did anything but great inking on the THOR books though.

Georgie Roussell said...

You wrote: much of what went out with Vinnie's name was substandard work, because he felt the need to take it all on and crank it out.

So, in this bad economy, are you getting a better understanding of needing to take it all on? The economy was pretty bad in the 60's and early 70's as well.

You wrote: But from a professional standpoint, Vinnie didn't take care of business.

Today I read this from Mike Grell, one of Vince's biggest critics: BUT -AGAIN I STRESS THAT VINCE COLLETTA WAS THE GO-TO GUY WHEN THE CHIPS WERE DOWN AND A BOOK ABSOLUTELY HAD TO BE DONE IN EXTREMELY SHORT ORDER. WAS IT DONE TO SUITABLE PROFESSIONAL QUALITY? NO DOUBT, OR HE WOULDN'T HAVE CONTINUED TO GET WORK. WAS IT ON TIME? YOU BET. THAT'S WHAT VINCE COLLETTA DID BETTER THAN ANYONE. AND THAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE. WITH THE CLARITY OF HINDSIGHT, I STILL SAY THAT, DESPITE OUR TURBULENT PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, VINCE COLLETTA WAS A GREAT ARTIST WHOSE TRUE TALENT WAS SELDOM SEEN BY THE PUBLIC AND HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE INDUSTRY DURING ONE OF THE GREATEST PERIODS IN THE HISTORY OF COMICS CANNOT BE DENIED. LET'S GIVE HIM THE CREDIT HE JUSTLY DESERVES.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

once again I'll defend my words here. And once again, its not a personal attack on the man himself, someone that i never met.

The artwork, as printed, took substantial shortcuts over what jack kirby drew. we knew that, and we have pritned proof.

Given that we are in the worst economic meltdown since the great depression, using today's economy is a pretty poor example.

Vinnie clearly had ability that he was unable or unwilling to slow down and use. It is a sublte trap to get locked into always getting the late book and knocking it out and, since its late, the same editors that wouldn't have accepted the work before are now obliged to take it.

Put some of the blame on the editors here. Jack didn't have Thor behind, jack had Thor ahead of schedule, so there never should have been a reason for vinnie to have had to knock that out. Period. If he wanted to take on extra work around that, then he could have. But given that the man did have talent, it was clear that he saw no reason to slow down. He took any number of well pencilled pages and hacked his way through them. Grell's work still shone through vinnie's inks, but even his work was stilted with colletta inking him.

just because vinnie had talent, and he got a lot of credits through the '60's and '70's doesn't mean that he deserves credit for doing great work, because he sacrificed that talent to the almightly deadline. and if he did, that was his choice. you don't get points for just being there.