History: The Vince Colletta letter

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201006291508 History: The Vince Colletta letter

While we’re on deadline with another story, you might enjoy, courtesy of iFanboy, The Vince Colletta Letter:

Marvel Editors…you are the droppings of the creative world. You were destined to float in the cesspool till urine logged and finally sink to the bottom with the rest of the shit but along came Jim Shooter who rolled up his sleeves and rescued you.


Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.

Comments

  1. Colletta. Two L’s.

    But yes, that’s the stuff.

    kdb

  2. I never understood the vitrol of the letter. Typically, a comic book inked by vince colletta was not worth looking at.

  3. James Van Hise says:

    The reason Vince wrote the letter was because he only worked at Marvel because he was friends with Jim Shooter and Shooter told the editors to hire Vince Colletta. After Shooter was fired, Marvel editors stopped returning Colletta’s phone calls and he was out the door, too. None of the established artists at Marvel liked Colletta’s inking so Colletta was assigned to any new artist Marvel happened to hire. Since the new artists tended to be assigned to draw the Marvel movie adaptations which were common then, that’s what Colletta was inevitably hired to ink as the new artists had no right to choose their own inkers. If Colletta’s art was considered of value, he would have continued to get work after Shooter was gone. This was told to me by one of the new artists who worked at Marvel in the 1980s, and whose work was constantly given to Colletta to ink.

  4. Joe S. Walker says:

    “No cry of help was too small for him to turn his back on.”

    I think Vinnie meant “to answer.”

    I feel rather sorry for him. He wasn’t talentless but he chose to be a hack, and that’s a soul-destroying path to take.

  5. Brett says:

    Interesting.

    I thought he was talking about the modern Marvel bullpen until I saw Jim Shooter’s name.

    I was reading a lot of comics during Shooter’s regime as well as a lot of Comics Journal / Amazing Heroes / Comics Buyers Guide which back then were a connoseurs connection to some behind the scenes stuff the way the internet is today.

    I recall a lot of complaints from people about how difficult it was to work for him. Given, he was responsible for some questionable decisions (JLA/Avengers; Secret Wars, New Universe, changing the ending to X-Men #137 which opened pandora’s box on both death and the Phoenix character) but for the most part, Marvel was putting out some very memorable material as well.

    During Shooter’s tenure, Marvel gave readers Frank Miller’s Daredevil; Micheline / Layton Iron Man; Micheline’s Spider-Man; Walt Simonson’s Thor… there was an influx of new characters and reading comics were actually fun.

    Even when he was at Valiant, I always felt that no matter what was going on behind the scenes, I could still buy with confidence. I may not have always liked what Shooter has done but I always felt as though I was buying a professional product and that’s important.

    As a consumer, I value and miss the ability to buy with confidence. Buying a comic today, not only do you get bad, retreaded material but often it feels like it was drawn or written by untrained children. If people feel they are getting an unprofessional product, it makes many think twice before sampling something new.

    Looking forward to his upcoming Dr Solar and Magnus from Dark Horse. It’ll be the first ongoing monthlies I’m buying in a long, long time.

  6. Brett says:

    I agree that Vince Colletta does get a lot of flack and I remember reading tons of comics inked with his brush.

    Granted, he was no Terry Austin but as a kid, I was always able to recognize his work and felt that he gave the books he worked on a kind of ‘Marvel’ feel that I enjoyed.

  7. Synsidar says:

    Back in 2008, Erik Larsen devoted his CBR column to Colletta’s career, listing his good points and bad points. Colletta might have been a hack, but the comics publishers back then needed hacks:

    Most businesses are comprised of people numbly going through the motions. Mediocre work is as common as dirt.

    The fact that Vinnie did an incredible amount of books in his 40+ years is not proof that Vinnie wasn’t a hack — it’s proof that he was a hack. He had to cut corners in order to produce that body of work and cutting corners — erasing backgrounds and eliminating details — is hard evidence that he was hacking it out.

    And, again, this was both encouraged and expected. The comics needed to ship on time.

    To make it in comics you need to be either:

    1. Very fast

    2. Very good

    3. Very nice

    And to last, you need to be two of the above. Vinnie was both 1 and 3 — and every so often, number 2.

  8. Joe Lawler says:

    “You were destined to float in the cesspool till urine logged and finally sink to the bottom with the rest of the shit…”

    I knew my grandma stole her last birthday card closing from somewhere.

  9. I’m wrapping up the layout on TwoMorrows’ book on Vince Colletta this week, and if all goes well on press, it’ll debut at Comic-Con next month. It’s a really fascinating look and Vinnie’s life and career, and answers a lot of questions fans have had. His son discusses Colletta’s alleged mafia connections, and a wealth of top pros weigh in on VC’s work, pro and con. It’s written by Robert L. Bryant Jr., who spent months researching Vinnie’s history, family, and friends both in and outside of comics.

    It’s one of the most fascinating life stories I’ve ever published, about an inker whose inking I pretty universally despised over Kirby. But like him or hate him, he was quite a character, with an amazingly colorful life. Really a fun read for me, as a big Kirby fan.

  10. ““You were destined to float in the cesspool till urine logged and finally sink to the bottom with the rest of the shit…”

    I thought it was lifted from Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go”.

  11. I’ll never forget some of Vinnie Colletta’s work over George Perez on Avengers. I really thought it was a good match then. I could see some cut corners and such, but after seeing Colletta almost exclusively on George Tuska’s work for so long, his work with Perez was an eye-opener. Then when Colletta was switched out with Sam Grainger (I think) it was another eye-opener because I could see the switch from Colletta’s pen-work to Grainger’s brush work. It was a similar situation with the switch from Colletta to Mike Royer on Kirby’s work. It’s such a noticeable difference, but I think Colletta gets a lot of unfair heat.

  12. Dave Miller 1963-2012 says:

    Does anyone remember that at one point Vinnie was an art director at DC comics?

    Talk about mob connections.

  13. Jim Kingman says:

    I remember when Colletta replaced Murphy Anderson as inker of Curt Swan’s pencils on Superman in Superman and Action Comics. That was pretty jarring. Then Tex Blaisdell came on board, and his inks on Swan were REALLY jarring. But, personally, they’re fun comics to reread. Not great, not classic, not the masterpieces so many others are, or we think they are. Just fun. These guys did their job. I think we can sometimes be too hard on them.

  14. Actually, this was courtesy of ifanboy taking it from lettersofnote.com

  15. comicsatemybrain says:

    What I find to be funny is that iFanboy links to an old Mark Evanier blog that links back to an old Beat entry.

  16. Max G says:

    Vince Colletta “cured” me of a career in the comic book industry when DC held a portfolio review at an early Seuling NY Comic Con in the 1970s. Young artists were left distraught and some threw their work into the trash after Colletta’s hard handed critique. He was as subtle as a brick and never offered words of encouragement. I thought , “If this is the way the comic book business operates, I want no part of it!” In 1976 I was asked to give someone a ride across town from the Marvel Comics Con. Who? Vince Colletta! I will not repeat the disdainful and anti-semetic remarks made toward the the publishers of DC and Marvel in my car, but that reinforced my beliefs that I made the right career choice.

  17. Al™ says:

    When I read that Colletta actually erased pencils that were slowing him down, that did it for me.

    Until then, I figured his work was okay, he seemed to “tame” down some of the extremes of some of the pencillers. I realized how he was “taming” them… with an eraser.

  18. Zemba says:

    I’ve heard stories about there being something between Neal Adams and Colletta. Somthing to do with one having an affair with the others wife or girlfriend. Has anyone ever heard anything about that?

  19. Ed Ooo says:

    Part of the reason Vince Colletta has a bad rep is the number of people like James Van Hise and Kurt Busiek who take every opportunity to bash the guy. Along with about twenty other serial Vinnie-bashers, it creates a negative image, regardless of the true facts. When people like Van Hise, Busiek, Evanier, etc. create half as much art as Colletta did, I’ll listen to their rants.

    As for Max G’s comments, all I will say is that some of Vinnie’s best friends were Jewish, he wasn’t the least bit prejudicial and I also doubt if Colletta would ever need a ride in midtown Manhattan from a fanboy. What you wrote was a total fabrication.

  20. @ Ed Ooo
    Kurt Busiek said “That’s the stuff,” referring to Vince Colletta’s profanity-ridden “letter” to the Marvel editors.

    Kurt also suggested correcting the spelling of his name.

    How does that equate to “bashing” the guy?

  21. Max G says:

    Sorry Ed Ooo, I have no reason whatsoever to fabricate the actual account of my experiences with Vince Colletta. You weren’t in my car, you weren’t there and you were not privy to what actually occurred. Tom Sciacca was one of the people organizing many of the panels at the Marvel Con and asked me to do a favor and give Colletta a ride. I was not so much of a “fanboy” as I contributed to the production of the convention book. In 1976 think about who the publishers at Marvel and DC were. I’ll leave it at that.

  22. @ Zemba
    In all liklihood, Neal Adams was probably unhappy with a Colletta inking job.

  23. Neal was =VERY= unhappy with the one and only time Colletta was assigned his pencils to finish. Neal was up in the National offices and got a look at them at the end of the week before the Monday they were scheduled to go to the printer and, aghast, took them home with him. He then, using a lightbox, recreated the pages and inked them himself. Uncompensated. They were so bad that Neal worked for free to protect the damage those inks would have done to his professional rep.

    Neal Adams. Worked for free. That’s how bad an inker Colletta was.

  24. Neal didn’t lightbox and recreate the pages, not back then; he fixed a bunch of stuff here and there, as much as he had time for, but there’s a lot of Colletta still left in B&B #81.

    When that story was collected in the BATMAN ILLUSTRATED BY NEAL ADAMS hardcover, he did lightbox it and rework the pages, though not, I think, for free.

    kdb

  25. Scott Rowland says:

    Colletta’s bad reputation is not built on anything other than the reaction of the fans to Colletta’s art. I hated seeing his inks in the 1980s, because he reduced virtually all pencilers to an identical look. My friends and I called him “the Equalizer.” I just do not like most of his art.

    However, (and despite the fact that this letter makes me think he was not a very pleasant person), I plan on buying the TwoMorrows book to learn more about him.

  26. On July 30, TwoMorrows Publishing is releasing THE THIN BLACK LINE: PERSPECTIVES ON VINCE COLLETTA, by Robert L. Bryant Jr. You can download a FREE 5mb PDF preview of the chapter on Colletta’s THOR work at this link:

    http://twomorrows.com/media/CollettaPreview.pdf

    In a lot of ways, this book has changed my opinion of Vinnie and his work. I think that, love him or hate him, readers will walk away from this book with a new appreciation and understanding of this colorful and controversial comics professional. I know I did.

  27. Ed Ooo says:

    Busiek hasn’t been particularly kind to Colletta’s memory over the years. Correct, he didn’t bash him here, my bad. Van Hise is a serial Colletta detractor (yes, there is such a thing.) Max G, sorry but I never heard any anti-semitic comments attributed to Vince and there have probably been more quotes about him than any other artist in the history of comics.

  28. I wouldn’t contacting the author of this book. Having a quick look at the credits I notice that both myself and my blog are mentioned. I wouldn’t mind knowing what content was used, as nobody has ever contacted me about using my research for a Vinnie Colletta book at any point in time.

    Very curious indeed. I’m quite happy to help anyone, but it’d have been nice to have been asked first.

  29. Not only is this guy the worst inker in the history of comics, he’s also a homophobe. Am I the only one who has a problem with the “dickless faggot” comment in his letter.
    Even as a kid, I knew that he (along with Don Heck and George Tuska) cold make even my favorite books stink. I don’t think it’s bashing anyone to say that his work was sub-par.
    Just this faggot’s opinion.

  30. Longtimereader says:

    Knowing nothing of the personalities involved I will just say this… As a kid I always seemed drawn to any comic that was inked by Vince. I didn’t have a clue who the people involved were, only that there was something about the artwork that attracted me. It wasn’t until college when I began to look through my old comics that I realized that probably 3/4 of them were inked by Vince Colletta. So cheers to you Vinnie for the hours of happiness and imagination that you helped bring to a young boy. That was indeed your legacy. Nuff said!

  31. victimblue says:

    Colleta destroyed Jack ‘King’ Kirby’s work…I hated his inking.

  32. James Van Hise says:

    People tended to be indifferent to Colletta’s inking history until The Jack Kirby Collector started publishing old photostats of Kirby pencil pages from Marvel Comics and then showing how Colletta had simplified some panels in inking them. Then people started getting pissed off. I believe it was Mark Evanier who reported that Jack Kirby (who ordinarily didn’t complain about his inkers) complained to Stan about the rush jobs Colletta was doing on his Fantastic Four pages, which caused Colletta to be replaced there. Oddly, Colletta did much better inking on Kirby’s Thor than he did on those few issues of Fantastic Four which he inked.

  33. As one commenter previously mentioned, Mr. Van Hise seems to have a serious problem regarding Colletta. I mean, there are a few artists I don’t like much but if I’ve mentioned them even once in a negative way that’s a lot. Van Hise is driven to make nasty comments about Colletta at every opportunity because I have seen three or four of them in different forums. He seems demented.

  34. The first time I saw Vince Colletta’s inking was in the old Tales of Asgard series featuring Thor. It was brilliant and I still consider those Journey into Mystery comics true classics. The feature story was often inked crudely, like with a magic marker, usually by Chic Stone or Paul Reinman, then the second story, with Colletta’s delicate, detailed pen and brush work. It felt like a journey, all right, from pop art to real art.

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