Fascinating video about comic book inker, Vince Colletta, the man some claim ruined Jack Kirby's art

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/06/fascinating-video-about-comic.html


We’ve all worked with a guy like this at one time or another. If he can navigate office politics to his advantage, there’s no escaping the damage he does.


I think the hate is undeserved because clearly he was serving a purpose that management specifically needed and wanted. He produced on time and wasn’t simplifying others work out of antagonism or spite. If he was your inker you knew well ahead of time of what he would do so is it a surprise that a detailed crowd would be rendered instead as silhouettes?

In comics its very common to see delays, at times it can very well cause title cancellations so cutting corners was done all over the place, not just with inkers.

  1. Chris with Comic Tropes is great. If you like comics, even just in the past like me, you will probably enjoy his show, and learn a few things too.

  2. Not familiar with Colletta before this video, but, ugh, yeah. Shitty inker. Good, fast, and cheap - you can pick two.


I’m also curious how much influence the colorists had on those two versions of Galactus. For example, did Kirby specify whether Galactus’s outfit had sleeves and/or leggings or was it left up to the third person in the chain of custody to decide which parts should be covered with spandex vs. left bare?


I would think the artist would provide character references to the inkers so they know what the color scheme is supposed to be. Remember that there could be more than one, and if everybody is just choosing on their own it would be chaos on the page.

For background details the inker would probably have a lot more discretion.


It is clearly evident by the comments who is familiar with production art and who isn’t. https://vincecolletta.com

You can learn more if you like at his website. Just type in his name and add the dot com. Have fun!

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I wouldn’t say “shitty.” Lazy, or corner-cutting maybe, and I was horrified when I finally read about those issues, but I had always liked the stuff he actually did (like the actual textures on foreground characters and major features in Kirby’s Thor work) over a lifetime of reading comics before knowing about this.

I remember reading an interview with Roy Thomas where he said that a lot of people around the Marvel offices tended to be extra-nice to Colletta and not give him a hard time about anything because he used to sort-of-imply that he was connected mob-wise.

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Weird thing is he wasn’t. The art where he clearly spent some time is quite good. You can look at some of the Thor stuff, and the main characters in a panel legitimately look great. And you could think “why do people hate this guy”. Looking at the backgrounds, you could see how simplified they were, but it wasn’t bad. For things like that it’s only really looking at the original art where you notice how much he was changing. His later stuff, he wasn’t even putting in the detail work where it was important. And a lot of his work is just flat and cartoonish.

This guy basically just took common enough time and cost saving measures so god damn far that he screwed himself. He was more than capable of doing the job well, but he made more money doing it poorly.

Once you see how many alterations he made though, the whole thing was fairly disrespectful from the start. “I’ll erase a bunch of this guys work, because he’ll never notice. Then I can get paid for twice as many pages this week” is pretty fucked.


Well there is “shitty” as in unable to do a good job and “shitty” as in not producing good work even if they are able to. When the dude took the time he did good work. I understand having to cut corners at times… but yeesh… some of these examples were just so egregious.

I will say sometimes inkers and pencilers just don’t compliment each other well.

I’ll also say that I don’t think he did anything out of malice. Comics were a throw away medium for so long, and so I’m sure as long as books were selling and on time not a lot of people cared. While Kirby was well respected back then, his full panel pages are worth thousands of dollars each today. So that makes it extra pain wincing to think about how some of the pages were not given the time they should have.


Ideally, yes. But sometimes those kinds of details fall through the cracks in a high-pressure deadline environment.

(Pictured: Mr. Smithers from the second episode of The Simpsons)



I remember in Youngblood #1 Leifeld not taking the time to draw all the lines on the costumes he invented, but the digital colorist did.

Another fun coloring issue was that X-Force issue with Spider-man draw so it read horizontally. Evidently the colorist was using a color guide he was used to a another company (I think Continuity Comics), but it wasn’t the same as what Marvel used. So a “G-7” was a blue at Continuity , and an amber at Marvel. It sorta worked, though.

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Yeah it seems to me it was more that he didn’t do the work more than anything else. There’s a level of savvy there as practically speaking noone but the other artists did care, and you’re being under paid by the page. So more pages is a practical way to make a living. To an extent the thing that galls is actually covering good or famous work, full on deleting backgrounds and what have.

The video mentions that eyes in his work are often curiously dead. If you look closely you notice that it’s because often he didn’t bother to make sure the pupils lined up. Everyone’s got this curiously spread eye line that looks like a dead fish. So I think the thing that always bothered me about the guy is he didn’t even have any respect for his own work.

If it was purely about money dude could have gone to pretty much any other industry. I just don’t think he gave a fuck.

I saw this on YouTube a few days ago. It really is fascinating. But then I’ve always been a huge Jack Kirby fan.

He knew he wasn’t "creating ‘art’ ". He was drawing a thing that pimple-faced kids would goon out over for a little while and then throw in the trash and forget about and go on to their next temporary craze. In the age when Colleta was working, nobody in his right mind spoke or thought the words “art” and “comics” in the same conversation. Any time an editor or inker or colorist or anyone else in the business used the word “art”, they may as well have used the word “product” because that’s how they thought of it.

I remember when I was young and I was actually reading those comics. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the quality of the linework. Neither did anyone else I knew who read comics. To us the coloring was much more important. And the action and dialogue were most important of all. We didn’t analyze comics, we consumed them. Comics were kind of like no-motion fireworks. They were paper-bound action movies for people my age. We didn’t have big color movies with special effects, and television, for sensory overload. Comics were our eye-popping mind candy. The only people who thought of them as “art” or as something to be actually thought about were people we considered weird - protonerds.

The reasons comics are now considered “art” and things that deserve actual serious consideration by otherwise reasonable people are, the protonerds grew up and are unwilling to let go of that aspect of their childhoods. Comics were sensory bombs to youngsters at one time, but now are seen as kind of static. Compared to motion-capable visual media, they are no longer attention-fixing. So now the comic producers can work on them with completely different ideas on what is important. Comics used to be something kids ate and then hungered for more. They were mental junk food and that’s all the readers wanted. Now they’re something that adults who don’t have to do sweaty jobs for a living can be “connoisseurs” about.


Plenty of artists were pushing the boundaries of the comic medium decades before Colletta joined the scene. Just look at some of the early 20th-century work of Windsor McCay or the mid-century work of Walt Kelly.


This probably isn’t a popular take, but it seems to me in the examples shown in the video that Colleta removed a lot of clutter from some of those Kirby pages, clarifying the storytelling. One, I suspect, would have to have a pretty high opinion of oneself to make those decisions, especially over Kirby’s work, but there is an argument to be made that he improved the art by streamlining it, so it’s not entirely fair to say he didn’t care about art.

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Is Jack Kirby.