ITEM! Time to answer some Sock It To Stan emailage from the ol’ Intrawebs. Danny McFanny writes:
"I think Vince Colletta was probably the single greatest inker ever to grace Jack Kirby’s pencils, especially on classic issues of Journey Into Mystery/Thor. But everyone else seems to think he’s the next thing to Al Capone with an ink brush, and spend all of their waking hours bashing on a man no longer here to defend himself. What do you think, Stan?"
That’s quite a complicated question, Danster, but I won’t let that stop me from takin’ an ever lovin’ swing at it. It’s hard to talk about Vince “Crow Quill” Colletta without stirring up some kind of fuss, flak or fracas. Comic collectors, co-workers and even cannoli-consumers have always been clearly cleft on what to make of the Sicilian Scribbler. They either loved him or they hated him.
Yours Truly? I was always a little scared of him, to tell you the truth. Vinnie and I were both in the family-oriented comics biz, but he had relations in another family business, if you catch my drift. But I have to say that back before the Marvel Age of Comics, when the only rates that Uncle Marty would let me pay inkers was somewhere north of Charlton and south of movie matinee admissions, Vinnie was one of our ever-reliable go-to inkers, alongside Darling Dick Ayers, George (Bell) Roussos, and Frank (Ray) Giacoia. He was cheap, dependable and fast. Before Mighty Marvel became Might Marvel, that was an uncontestable combination. Heck, I couldn’t not hire him.
That said... there were always issues with Vin. He was an issue creator by nature (no pun intended). Even as early as 1965 we got fan mail complaining about his inking in a time and an age when no-one complained about inkers. The fans were too busy busting me and Jack for giving the Hulk only three toes or forgetting Bruce Banner’s first name (clue: it’s NOT “Bob”). While most readers seemed to like Vinnie’s inks on Thor, they hated ‘em on the FF. And then one day Marvelous Marie Severin showed me some Thor pages and pointed out where Vinnie was erasing whole figures and backgrounds from Jack’s pencils to simplify the inking. I’d actually art directed Vinnie to soften up Jack’s faces, especially on the winsome women-folk (Joe Sinnott got the same directions), but never to erase whole figures or simplify Jack’s iconic cityscapes into architech-school-dropout-drawings. Did an inker doing those sorts of things constitute a crime? Of course not. In the rush to get the books out the door, most of us didn’t even notice. Jack himself never noticed while he was doing Thor and the FF. Was it poor decision-making on Vinnie’s part? Of course it was.
What Jolly Jack did finally notice was when Vinnie paraded his DC Fourth World pencils around the Marvel Offices. There was a lot of bad blood still going on back then, and apparently for Jack that was the last strenuous straw. Then he finally recognized the shortcuts and liberties that Vinnie was taking with the pencils he toiled over morning noon and night, and the rest you know. Both your Uncle Stan and his successors continued to use Vinnie as an inker until the end of the Jim Shooter era, when Vin’s judgement was once again a little, shall we say, on the lacking side. See this to get a taste of what I mean.
The real crime was that Vince Colletta was an excellent artist when he decided to be, including penciling, inking and even painting (no lie!). He just didn’t decide to be most of the time, and often used his meager pay as a rationale for his lesser efforts. In that sense, he was the Anti-Kirby, because Jack threw his whole heart and soul into almost every pencil line he drew, regardless of recompense or recognition. Vincent Colletta, not so much. Gentlemen, fire up your comments!