ThinBlackLineColletta_LRG.jpgEverything’s coming up Vinnie Colletta! After some brisk discussion here and elsewhere on the inking giant, John Morrow writes to say that TwoMorrows Publishing is putting out a BOOK on Colletta, THE THIN BLACK LINE: PERSPECTIVES ON VINCE COLLETTA, by Robert L. Bryant Jr., and you can download a preview of it right here. Writes Morrow:

The impetus for this book was an article that appeared in The Jack Kirby Collector in Spring 2000 under the title “The Thin Black Line: A Rough and Scratchy Defense of Vince Colletta.” Bobby Bryant has taken his research for that early article, and expanded it to a 128-page trade paperback that delves deeply into the Colletta Controversy, his background, his work ethic, and of course, features a LOT of art by Jack Kirby and others (including side-by-side comparisons of the original pencils to Vince’s inks, so you can see for yourself the kinds of shortcuts he regularly took, and why). It includes commentary by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Joe Sinnott, Mike Royer, Carmine Infantino, Mark Evanier, and dozens of other comics pros.

But really; a whole book on Vince Colletta?! In all honesty, I’m one of those Kirby fans who hated Colletta’s inking (although I did like it a little on JIMMY OLSEN, but not at all on THOR). And I’ll admit it: I grew up as one of those kids who went around saying Colletta was “the worst inker in comics.”

So why am I publishing a book on a creator whose work I so disliked?

Simply put, I think it’s one of the best things TwoMorrows has ever published. Bobby’s manuscript so impressed me, I made time in my schedule to design the book myself. I’m immensely proud of it, and I hope you’ll check out the preview, and if you like it, consider pre-ordering a copy.

Preview copies will be on sale at San Diego Comic-Con.


  1. People love to fall back on the old “sure Colletta cut corners, but the book always came out on time” excuse. I don’t remember ever hearing any stories about how late Joe Sinnott’s inks made the Fantastic Four every month.

  2. That’s really a great idea and I will gladly buy this book. I think I hated Vince Colletta inks on everything but Thor, but not because of what it look like, but because I knew there was a lot of things missing from pencillers I knew what their work usually look like.
    All life stories are not made of success and praise. It’s very interesting to read and hear about people defending artists like him. It’s easy to love Alan Moore, Joe Kubert, Frank Miller… it takes more time, work (and sometimes pain, looking at some of their failed atempts) to appreciate other people strugles to try to reach their “perfection”.
    Praise to you, John Morrow, for publishing this!

  3. TwoMorrows: Thanks for the generous preview of this book.
    I took the time to check it out, and it’s definitely a well produced volume. I loved the panel-by-panel conparisons of Kirby pencils to the completed Colletta inks.

  4. hopefully the book represents some of Colleta’s romance work that he pencilled and inked – first time i saw some of that material it opened my eyes to his work in a completely new way

  5. Yes, there’s romance worked represented, and plenty of work Vinnie inked over many artists other than Kirby (there’s some beautiful Mike Grell “Warlord” pages Vince inked, for example). And while I chose the THOR chapter to preview, don’t think it’s all just “Look what he left out of that panel!” kind of stuff. The book really paints a great portrait of what Vinnie was like as a person, and I think very fairly makes the case pro and con for his “shortcutting”. Plus his son Franklin Colletta and others offer up some great anecdotes and recollections.

  6. It’s interesting the people who defend the inking style of Colletta, Larsen and Eddie Campbell, both have a scritchy scratchy style, similar to how Colletta inked. Of course they would side with him.

    I’m not sure about the people that suggest that Colletta had the ability to make panels better by leaving things out. If you look at some of the penciled panels verses some of his inked panels, they appear out of balance, when he’s made the decision to edit the artwork. It’s hack work, it can’t be defended. Smoothing out Kirby’s crackle and angular anatomy, destroys what made Kirby great, he was a highly stylized gifted artist. You’ve in a sense, taken away his uniqueness.

    What if Colletta, had inked Al Williamson, or Neal Adams or Dave Stevens? Then, I think people would be really outraged. I think it’s because of Kirby’s quirkiness, that somehow it was okay for Colletta to make decisions to correct the art or make it look “better”.

    I guess anyone who is a hack, can have a personal style, and therefore, somehow, his disrespect of other’s artistic talent, is acceptable. I don’t get it…

  7. “What if Colletta, had inked Al Williamson, or Neal Adams or Dave Stevens?”

    There’s a well-known story about Colletta inking Neal Adams on an issue of The Brave And The Bold. Adams took the pages home and virtually re-drew the book on his own time.

    Colletta inked Kurt Schaffenberger on Jimmy Olsen late in its run and the results were horrible.

  8. Which artist gets talked about, debated, praised and vilified as much as Vince Colletta? I never minded the alleged shortcuts because the art looked great, especially Warlord and the Submariners with Gene Colan and Iron Man with George Tuska. Then there was the DC stuff – Wonder Woman and the Fourth World books, all classic comic book art. I’ve seen original art inked by Colletta that really blew me away, then when I looked at the comic I saw that most of the lines he drew disappeared.

  9. Great preview! Thanks. I’m looking forward very much to getting this book.

    I assume everybody here knows of “Dan McFan,” his anti-Evanier site, and who he really is. When he submitted comments to my site, under another fake name, I traced his IP address to a block of Comcast-assigned addresses in his town in Florida, so I have no doubt of his identity. Perhaps with the publication of this book, “Dan” will retire the alias.

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