Let me preface this post by saying that I haven’t read much about Vince Colletta the man (and from the brief mentions of him that I have, he was a rather nice guy) and that this is a criticism of his work and not him personally.
While Vince Colletta made his mark in the Silver Age as Marvel Comics most prolific and reliable inker, his work stands as a contentious issue for discussion. In my humble opinion, his Silver Age work on Thor diminished the explosive and dynamic pencils of Jack Kirby. I always felt that Kirby’s art looked best under the more faithful inkings of Joe Sinnott and Chic Stone. Colletta’s inks always seemed to impose its own style rather than embellish the style of the penciller.
In Erik Larsen’s opinion (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=16355):
“But Colletta was a hack.
Vinnie erased background figures and simplified backgrounds and turned fully realized drawings into silhouettes. I have quite a few pages of original art from Kirby’s run on “Thor” and Vinnie erased or whited out incidental figures or details frequently -- in one case, Vinnie whited out an entire train.
Like all artists, Vinnie was paid by the page, and Vinnie was paid poorly. There were no royalties or reprint money -- the original art was not returned, so there was no incentive to do good work. As long as editors gave him work, he'd take the money and spit back the work as quickly as possible. Doing that meant taking shortcuts and Vinnie took shortcuts aplenty.”
The real tragedy of Colletta was not that he was a hack, but rather that he turned others into hacks. Pencillers who had been putting in long hours at the drawing board and who were appalled to have their work butchered would start cutting corners themselves. Often it resulted in them slacking off because, as they'd say, "Vinnie will just ruin it anyway."
There’s no doubt over his career that Vince Colletta rescued hundreds of Marvel comics that were on the brink of missing deadlines. However, his work, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired. I recall dreading seeing his name anywhere in the credits of a comic book.
Amazing Spider-Man #290-291, the famous Peter Parker-Mary Jane proposal issues, featured art by John Romita Jr. with inks by Colletta. It’s hard to tell without Romita Jr’s original pencils, but the finished product is not pleasant to the eyes. You can see Romita Jr’s art trying to escape from under Colletta’s heavy, confining inks. These issues seem like a bit of a rush job though as the backgrounds are rather light.
Similarly for Web of Spider-Man #17 featuring art from up and coming penciller Marc Silvestri. Colletta’s inks make Silvestri’s art style almost impossible to recognize.
Colletta was always a loyal company man and a good friend to Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter. When Shooter made his less than graceful exit from Marvel Comics, Colletta left with him and left this scathing note:
TwoMorrows Publishing has released a tell-all book about Vince Colletta by Robert L. Bryant Jr. You can download a full chapter preview of the book here:
For more information on Robert Bryant Jr.’s book, check it out here: