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Comic Book Legends Revealed #225

Welcome to the two-hundred and twenty-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and twenty-four.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend you check out Pulp Fiction Legends Revealed #1 for an interesting bit involving future DC Comics editor Mort Weisinger.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: The first issue of EC Comics’ Panic was banned in the state of Massachusetts for making fun of Santa Claus.

STATUS: True Enough for a True

In 1952, EC Comics debuted a parody comic book called Mad…

It became quite popular.

So much so that at the end of 1953, EC launched a slightly more risque spin-off called Panic (think of Mad as PG and Panic as sort of an R, or at least a PG-13)…

This issue lived up to its title, as it caused quite a panic in the state of Massachusetts, over the last story in the comic, drawn by the great Will Elder, who adapted Clement Clarke Moore’s classic (in public domain) poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” as only someone like Elder could.

Here are a few pages…

Responding to a number of complaints received over the issue, Massachusetts Attorney General George Fingold announced that Panic #1 was to be banned in the state of Massachusetts because it “desecrated Christmas.”

Now here’s where the “True Enough” part comes in.

As you might imagine, the Attorney General doesn’t actually have the power to just announce the banning of random periodicals because they “desecrated Christmas,” and Fingold acknowledged as much, instead saying that what he was asking was for retailers to VOLUNTARILY “ban” the issue, and in great numbers that’s exactly what retailers in Massachusetts did.

I guess you don’t mess with Santa Claus in Massachusetts.

And as you might imagine, none of this publicity helped EC much when the The Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency held their hearings a few months later in the Spring of 1954.

COMIC LEGEND: Walt Kelly picketed Walt Disney during the 1941 Disney Animators Strike.

STATUS: False

After a short time working in journalism, Walt Kelly moved to California in the mid-1930s (when he was in his early 20s) to work in animation.

He got a job at Walt Disney and worked there for about six years, helping to animate some film classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

During this time, he also began to do his first comic book work, with a little work here and there for the comic company that would eventually become National (DC) Comics.

In 1941, many of the animators at Disney had joined the fairly newly formed Screen Cartoonists Guild, and they attempted to unionize at Walt Disney Studios, who naturally were not in favor of their cartoonists being in a union. Eventually, a strike occurred.

According to a number of sources (including this one):

Kelly was one of many Disney animators, including Art Babbitt, Bill Tytla, and John Hubley, who picketed Disney during the 1941 Disney animators’ strike, after which he left the studio.

This is not true.

Kelly did not want to choose a side during the debate, so he actually took a leave of absence from Disney, citing a family illness.

He would never return to the Studio (but there did not appear to be any hard feelings – Disney apparently even recommended Kelly to do some Disney comic book work at Dell).

Instead, he got work drawing comic books for Dell Comics, including Animal Comics #1, which introduced a fellow you might have heard of called Pogo…

Eventually, Kelly would take Pogo to a syndicated comic strip and worldwide renown…

Here’s a picture of Kelly from some time in the 1950s…

Kelly passed away in 1973 at the too young age of 60.

COMIC LEGEND: Vince Colletta once erased Mr. Fantastic from a Jack Kirby penciled panel in an issue of Fantastic Four.

STATUS: True

While folks can’t seem to agree on the relative merits of the inking of Vince Colletta, one thing we all can agree on is that people seem to love to talk about Vince Colletta!

Just recently, in another blog entry where Colletta’s inks became a topic of conversation, a reader sent me a question.

Reader Randy asked if there was actually an issue of Fantastic Four where Colletta erased a Kirby drawing of Mr. Fantastic.

Yes, Randy, that actually did happen. It’s actually one of the panels that Mark Evanier often cites when he discusses the relative merits of Vince Colletta.

Now listen, you rabid Colletta-lovers out there, all I am doing here is answering a question from a reader about Colletta. This is not “Colletta-bashing” or whatever. Randy asked and I’m answering.

The panel in question appeared in the classic Fantastic Four storyline where Doctor Doom takes over the Baxter Building and the Fantastic Four (and Daredevil) have to take it back.

Here is the panel, mixed in the context of a four-page sequence…

Now here’s the panel by itself…

And here’s what Kirby originally drew…

So yeah, Colletta chose not to ink the Reed figure and instead erased it.

Here’s the next panel, in sequence, where Reed reappears…

There.

That’s it – that’s your answer, Randy, sans any possible “Colletta-bashing”!

Thanks to Mark Evanier for the original panel, which he posted here, in a piece on Colletta. And thanks, of course, to Randy, for setting me up for the ire of Colletta-defenders.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

As you likely know by now, at the end of April, my book finally came out!

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you next week!

83 Comments

The article you cited about Walt Kelly striking had another error: it listed Bill Tytla’s name. According to Shamus Culhane, who animated the iconic “Heigh-Ho” scene in Snow White, Tytla did not strike. However, he refused to cross the picket line (Talking Animals and Other People, p. 225).

I never knew there were pro- and anti-Vince Colletta factions. Go figure.

I’d say that ignorance was bliss in this instance, Mr. M, but not realizing that a errant comment about Colletta will cause people to claim that you’re “Colletta-bashing” is actually vaguely useful information to know. :)

I guess the only question is… WHY did Colletta choose to erase Mr. Fantastic?

Ooo, this has the potential to get even uglier than that whole Stan Lee kerfuffle a couple of weeks ago. Now taking bets on how far the comments go before “Dan McFan” shows up… ;)

Ha!

I don’t think so, Mike.

Even Dan McFan admits that Colletta did it, and that’s all that is being said here. Did he do it? Yes, he did.

Dan would say that he did it to improve the panel, and others would disagree, but the end result is nothing is being said here besides “it was done.”

As a former art dealer I can tell you that I’ve seen a lot of erased backgrounds and figures in Colletta inked original art. I remember a panel from Journey into Mystery that had Thor looking very heroic in the foreground and the faint remnants of several background characters behind him.

I’ve read this issue of Fantastic Four, but hadn’t noticed an oddity on the 4th panel of page 10: Doom asks Ben Grimm, “Who are you, buffoon?” while a footnote informs us that Doom has never seen Ben Grimm. Of course, we later learned that Von Doom, Grimm, and Richards all knew each other in college. I’m sure someone got a No-Prize out of this at some point.

Vince Colletta – VANDAL.

Maybe Vince felt funny about hiding Reed behind Johnny’s leg flames like that — or Reed gained Sue’s powers for a panel.

Aside from “how dare anyone erase anything Kirby drew” umbrage, Reed’s disappearance isn’t at all distracting in context. Where he’s placed in the following panel leads one to assume he was simply off-panel before, just like he’d been unseen but nearby for the three panels before that.

I never heard of this before, but I see it now, and I was looking through the panels to find the missing Reed panel and I figured out which one before it was pointed out.

That having been said, the panel doesn’t lose anything from not having Reed in it, and the position where Reed is in the flames would (1) have made sense if Reed appears (2) looks cluttered if Reed appears.

As a kid, I used to hate it when Coletta inked Kirby. Chic Stone, Dick Ayers, Joe Sinnott…oh happy day. Coletta…that was always a sad day at the comic rack.

Stan Lee shoulda known better….what was he thinking?

It’s silly to single out Vince Colletta for this. It could as likely have been Stan Lee ordering Reed’s erasure (which seems to me likely; Stan liked to have everyone in a panel talking, and there was no room for Reed to say anything), or even Kirby himself, changing his mind about the composition of the panel (less likely, I admit). In any case, this is a very poor argument for Vince’s supposed tendency to cut corners by erasing figures, since it would have taken him far less time to ink the tiny figure of Reed than it would have to apply the white paint on Doom’s feet (which he could easily have skipped, to no obvious detriment).

Most people including his contemporaries say Coletta did it because he liked to do a lot of pages, he apparently took on a lot of work since he got paid per page. To enable him to ink the most pages he could a month, he often erased figures and backgrounds to save time and squeeze in more pages to ink a month.

One thing that gets on my nerves with anti-Coletta people is that they take a valid gripe, his tendency to cut corners, and use it to exaggerate his faults as an inker by claiming he had bad draftsmanship. The figures Coletta DID ink he actually inked quite well. Because he did one thing wrong, people like to act like EVERYTHING he did as an inker was unforgiveably bad.

It’s silly to single out Vince Colletta for this. It could as likely have been Stan Lee ordering Reed’s erasure (which seems to me likely;

No, honestly, it’s not. Coletta did it repeatedly, and if it was Stan ordering it, why would he only order it done when Coletta inked and not when any other inker inked? The only constant in all the erasure stories is Coletta. Here’s more Coletta quotes from Wikipedia:

Len Wein, on what he enjoyed most about working on Luke Cage:

“Getting to work with the wonderful George Tuska, before Vinnie Colletta got his hands on the pencils and ruined them”.

Mark Evanier:

“In 1970 when Steve Sherman and I met Steve Ditko, he asked us about the new Kirby books that were then about to debut at DC. When we told him Colletta was handling the inking, he winced and said that he would probably not look at the comics. Back when he was working for Marvel, Ditko said he’d pick up the latest issues in the office and always check the credits before taking the comics home. If he found Colletta’s name especially as Kirby’s embellisher he would make a point of putting the comic back, or even in a wastebasket. And he’d make sure Stan saw what he was doing and knew the reason why”

Rodrigo Baeza:

“Colletta was appreciated by publishers because of his ability to turn out professional-looking work on a short time. However, in his efforts to meet deadlines, Colletta would frequently erase details from the pencilled pages he received…. Magazines like the Jack Kirby Collector have shown examples of the pencilled pages Colletta received side-by-side with the finished, inked pages, and the differences can be very evident. The end result would still be printable, but costume details would disappear, patterns in buildings would be simplified, and sometimes background objects would be rubbed out”.

Pierre Comtois:

“…Colletta’s hair-thin, detailed inking style … seemed devoid of large areas of black, [which are] used to give figures weight and heft but an artistic concept yet to be fully explored by the time of the Middle Ages, an era whose crude woodcuts most reflected the art style needed by the Thor strip[. It] captured the elusive quality of otherworldly drama that the strip would increasingly demand as Lee and Kirby took it away from the everyday world of supervillains to a mythic plane where the forces of evil were on a far more gargantuan scale. Despite the serendipity of the two men’s styles, Colletta would later be criticized, with good reason, for compromising Kirby’s artistic vision by eliminating much of the detail that the artist put into his work”.

Since he appears on the other side of Johnny in the next panel, I think it was a good choice.

By the way, I didn’t post all that to show that I agree with Coletta bashing, just to show that the erasing was known and cited by many professionals Coletta worked with and isn’t something conjured up out of thin air.

Personally, I’m a Coletta fan for the reasons listed below:

http://ismarkevaniermentallyill.blogspot.com/2009/03/kirby-and-colletta-did-vinnie-care_29.html

To me his pros far outweigh his cons.

Cousin Cory: “I’ve read this issue of Fantastic Four, but hadn’t noticed an oddity on the 4th panel of page 10: Doom asks Ben Grimm, “Who are you, buffoon?” while a footnote informs us that Doom has never seen Ben Grimm. Of course, we later learned that Von Doom, Grimm, and Richards all knew each other in college. I’m sure someone got a No-Prize out of this at some point.”

I think someone did point that out to Stan.. FF annual #2 story had a bonus story “The Final Victory of Doctor Doom” that shows Reed making Doom believe he had defeated him with the encephalogun. (This is the same story that Doom and Rama-Tut postulate that they are the same man but from differnent times but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms). It is when Doom shakes off the effect of Reed’s device that he comes storming the Baxter Building in FF #39-40. I think it was later said that Doom considered Ben beneath his notice and put it out of his mind that he bumped into him leaving the room.

As for the Colletta erasure, there’s no doubt that Reed is removed and I sure some other background detail was dropped but those were different times. The more pages you did, the more you made and the page rates weren’t that great. I don’t think Jack Kirby every begrudged anyone trying to make a living. No one would have guessed back then that the work on a 12 cent comic book would attain such significance that it would even be debated many years later. Heck, even the masters painted over their own canvases. ;-)

Kirby did get the inker he deserved on the FF when Joe Sinnott was given the assignment, who told Mark Evanier it took him 2 hours just to ink the gun that Doctor Doom uses in a splash page in FF #84.

I thought the EC MAD comic making fun of Santa was funny.

I know Kirby’s reputation is sterling, but let’s face it: that’s not a particularly well drawn panel. Reed is scrunched in like an afterthought and there are all kinds of compositional issues with his placement. I’d say Coletta made a weak panel passable by simply omitting a small detail that just didn’t work.

The Jack Kirby Collector–of which I have every issue–has shown maybe 3 or 4 examples of Colletta rubbing out figures or simplifying backgrounds. Page through an Essential Thor or the New Gods Omnibus…you’ll be hard pressed to find a panel that suggests Colletta was simplifying details or eliminating anything at all. Those pages were jam-packed, and Colletta certainly wasn’t skimping. He was probably a lot less concerned about faithfully following the penciller when he was inking low-budget Charltons, but on that Silver Age stuff I see a guy who was doing his best. Now you may not like the results; in many cases, I don’t like Colletta’s inks, but my eyes have convinced me that he was not cutting corners to the degree that some people have made it out.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it but it looks like Colletta chose to not ink the rendering on Doom’s right calf and it also looks like Kirby had indicated a bit of a reflection on the floor under Doom’s left foot as well that wasn’t inked.

..

Colleta is/was a hack, but hacks make money. And that’s what pays thebills.

..

F*ck Vince Colletta.

You don’t erase the God damn King’s pencils especially to make your sub par inking job easier. Who knows how much of Jack Kirby’s details we lost to this man (and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one)? We wouldn’t stand for this today and we shouldn’t even try to justify it in retrospect.

Vince Colletta was a hack. Plain and simple.

I really like the coloring on that ray-gun beam that Dr. Doom’s holding in the first page.

Some more good Coletta debates from pros, the first from Stuart Immomen’s blog and the second from Mark Evanier’s site in response to Stuart’s piece. The comments section on Stuart’s blog piece also has appearances from pros weighing in.

http://www.immonen.ca/news/archives/454

http://www.povonline.com/notes/Notes051507.htm

Is Mister Fantastic transforming his arm into a cushion on page 11? I’m confused about what’s going on there.

@Mike S.
Are you being serious or funny? i truly can’t tell, and i’m not sure that anyone should get that worked up about an inker in a comic book.
i’m just curious. Thanks!
DFTBA

For the most part I’m serious, granted I know little of Colletta’s work outside of his relationship with Kirby but I’ve spent enough time studying Kirby’s penciled work as compared to what was ultiamtely printed to know that Colletta helped no one by doing this even once. It’s hard not to take this serious because, while Jack was far from the perfect creator, but he was one of the greats. I can’t imagine someone willingly taking away from what he put on the page.

I’m now curious how many inkers deleted figures/backgrounds from pencils in that or any other era. Or filled in extensively and added work (would that be when one was listed as a “finisher” and the regular penciller as doing “breakdowns”?).

Colletta was prized by editors for his speed, and hated by artists for what he did to achieve it, looks like. But there’s something to be said for actually getting work done on time. Calling him a hack is simplistic and insulting.

Worrying about quantity over quality is what I would take to be the very definition of a “hack.” and that goes for the editors that “prized” such behavior. How many of these selfsame editors forced Jack off of work he wanted to do or, in Stan Lee’s case, acted in a way that made people like Kirby leave a company all together?Not that most comics, especially in the time we’re discussing, were considered high-art by even their creators but it was crap like what Colletta did that helped keep comics on the fringes for as long as they were. How were comics supposed to be taken seriosuly if they people making them rewarded a “just get it done” attitude?

Or, I don’t know, maybe it was just judicial editing – like Kirby needed in all aspects.

Kirth said it all

“Colleta is/was a hack…”

If it wasn’t for Coletta’s relative, nobody would like him.

I never knew Colletta cut corners. I tend to dislike his inking because it makes everything look too soft.

Add this story to the long list of stories where the Human Torch is defeated by a serendipitously placed fire hydrant, fire extinguisher, water main, or in-floor refrigeration unit. I wonder if Johnny ever asked Reed about this: “Hey, big brain, would you mind taking out some of the anti-Torch equipment in the Baxter Building? I’ve got enough problems with all the fire hydrants and water mains in the city.”

I wonder how many times the FF was on the brink of defeat, the other three members helpless, and the Torch pulled off a last-minute save and defeated the villain? Zero, maybe?

“How were comics supposed to be taken seriosuly if they people making them rewarded a “just get it done” attitude?”

How was a man supposed to feed his family on the poor page rates that comics paid, esp. Marvel comics at the time? I’m no fan of Colletta, but I can see his motivation for plowing through the work.

Kirby basically plowed through work (even at the time of this particular FF story), some of the work from this period is good, some is pretty bad. But dare to call Kirby a hack and you’re likely to get run out of town by angry villagers with torches.

I love Kirby’s work, fortunately he did more than enough work that was inked by guys other than Colleta, so everybody wins. I think Colletta’s work on Thor is fitting for the look of the book, on the FF it looks horribly out of place.

As I noted a while back, the pairing of Coletta with Gil Kane was surprisingly pleasing. so the guy does have some pencillers that he meshes well with.

Erasing without consulting the penciller first though, seems like bad form.

Not only was Vinnie a mediocre inker who erased anything he didn’t feel like applying ink to, he was also reputedly a pimp (literally) with mob connections who got at least some of the work he got because he supplied girls to editors in return for assignments. Anyone who knew him at the time will confirm this (although Colletta always said the girls were just “models” who posed for his “fashion photography”). So even if he didn’t totally deserve his reputation as a deplorable inker, he DID deserve the insults–for his deplorable personal conduct.

Add this story to the long list of stories where the Human Torch is defeated by a serendipitously placed fire hydrant, fire extinguisher, water main, or in-floor refrigeration unit. I wonder if Johnny ever asked Reed about this: “Hey, big brain, would you mind taking out some of the anti-Torch equipment in the Baxter Building? I’ve got enough problems with all the fire hydrants and water mains in the city.”

When you live with a guy who bursts into flame every single day, multiple times a day, I think that counts as a fire hazard. It doesn’t seem like taking every piece of fire fighting equipment out of the place is a good move. Not to mention if he ever gets mind controlled.

To Joe above;

Stop spreading gossip.

Terence: That’s not gossip; that’s relatively well known information amongst comics historians. Try doing a little research on the subject, like reading interviews with artists who were there at the time and who knew Colletta personally, and you’ll find that I didn’t just make it up, despite what you might like to believe.

Colletta had the magical ability to turn great art into terrible art. I wish that Kirby could’ve had as much self-respect as Ditko had, and refused to be inked by Colletta sooner than he did.

I gotta back up Joe Shmoe on his statements, I’ve also read interviews with anecdotes along those lines.

All these people who say they like Colletta are his relatives? Guy’s got a massive family there, Alan. Five or six of them commented here.

Where did you get this from?

I sometimes wonder if the degree of Colletta vilification is directly proportional to the degree of Kirby scrutiny. There exists a serial like Jack Kirby Collector, devote JK minutiae, precisely because Kirby is the “King of comics. No other penciler’s art has come under such a degree of examination as Jack Kirby’s. The JKC (and other like publications) has, blessedly, been able to gift us with an unprecedented amount of original Kirby pencils. It takes but a happy chore (gazing at all that great art!) and an alert eye to signal out the instances where Colletta erased Kirby’s pencils. And still it remains the case, as MW Gallaher has pointed out, that only 4 or 5 instances of this happening have surfaced.

How many other non-Kirby pencil erasures by Colletta have surfaced? I don’t know of any. Like Josh above asked, did other inkers similarly edit out there own pencilers work? Perhaps, perhaps not. They just don’t get the scrutiny Kirby originals do.

I like some Colletta inks, dislike others. T, above provides some good “bad” examples (on Toth, Colletta did us a disservice, on some Kirby art it meets with my disapproval, on other Kirby embellishments I rather like it.

We just need some balance.

BTW, just would like to note that most of those panels with Daredevil were inked by Wally Wood.

I don’t like Colletta’s inking on most of Kirby’s work (haven’t read much Thor, though, which is supposed to be his best). He butchered Colan’s art and dulled Toth’s efforts. I don’t really like Sal Buscema’s work (not saying it’s bad, just not exciting, with some notable exceptions), and Colletta’s inks on the Captain America issues flattened it further.

That being said, the romance art on the blog T. linked to looked great. The scratchy/ feathery look worked well, there was more detail, and a few interesting flourishes. I wonder what jis reputation would be if he never touched Kirby’s work, and stayed in the genres he put the most visible effort into.

I never liked Coletta’s inking compared to the other wonderful inkers the King had over his many grand years.Ayers,Chic Syone,Sinnott,Everett.Some were heavy handed,Reinman,& Rousses.But critisizing artists is a tricky thing.I once said in an Ebay auction description that I thought Bob Oskner was a mediocre artist(not knowing the reverance that he has among other artists) and was ripped apart by Kevin Knowlan and someone else and I had to change it to deter their anger.It was very weird.I thought he was to cartooney,but thats what they love about him. He could draw anything.But getting back to Coletta,he erased much of Kirbys detail and backrounds so that the book could be ontime to the printers,mostly on Stan Lee’s orders.Alot of the artists turned in their art and never saw it again.So they didnt know how bad it was being inked.Look at his later work inking DC artists,he was horrendous.He inked alot of the Batgirl art of Don Heck.He made Don Heck unreadable.I think Don Heck was Picasso compared to Coletta.

I’d walk a half a mile to see Ed Sullivan smile any day.

But getting back to Coletta,he erased much of Kirbys detail and backrounds so that the book could be ontime to the printers,mostly on Stan Lee’s orders.

I could be wrong, but as I understand it it wasn’t quite on Stan’s orders. At least not the way most people would think when they hear “on Stan’s orders.” Coletta had a reputation for being fast and being the guy you went to when an inker dropped out of a job or an inking job was going too slow and was in danger of not being done by deadline. So he was often given last minute assignments with orders from Stan to get it done as fast as he could. But I don’t think Stan gave him specific orders of how to achieve it, such as “erase Reed Richards in this panel” and “erase a couple of backgrounds.” Stan just told him it had to be done by x date and it was up to Coletta to figure out what he had to do to make that happen.

To be fair to Colleta, several of those panels are very badly composed. In the panel where Reed is climbing through the hole in the ceiling, he’d have no hope of pulling himself up. Dr. Doom is awkwardly placed (that is, virtually hidden) in the panel when Ben and Johnny attack him, and when Johnny bursts into flame his right arm is in a position that’s impossible based on his and Doom’s positions in the previous panel. Kirby could turn in some very rushed, very ugly work (I remember one Hulk panel where Hulk looked like he had roast mutton for legs).

“Never having seen Ben Grimm, Dr. Doom is not yet aware that he himself was once the mighty Thing!”

Interesting. Did this get retconned later on? I know Ben and Reed met at Empire State University…

Ah, I’m see I’m not the only one who caught it. And the explanation does stretch things a bit, but makes sense for Doom…

It was all rushed back then. As several posts have already noted, this stuff had a print deadline that had to be met. Marvel had this really weird distribution system that they were locked into with a company that was controlled by DC IIRC. Kirby was dong multiple books per month and the books had to be ready to meet the delivery dates to the newstands.

I don’t mind him erasing Reed this time. Keeping Reed added nothing, and to be honest, Kirby’s positioning of Reed in those 2 panels was just awkward as a transition from panel to panel. And his positioning of Reed behind Johny’s leg also just doesn’t work.

Forgot to add, that Pogo strip is really good.

Colleta’s change makes the panel read better.

Why is this news?

We have been reading about the tiny erased Reed Richards for how many years now?

…Wow, I guess Colleta REALLY is a controversial topic. I’ll ignore it too and instead ask:

What was the point of showing the panel with the Walt Disney logo? I think most of us already know about it. Especially of late. ;)

Interesting. I saw in the Immonen piece that Tom Palmer is a guy who had a rep for altering/deleting/changing things in his ink jobs too. I’ve always liked Palmer’s work (especially with John Buscema; the team of Stern/Buscema/Palmer on Avengers is very possibly my favorite of all time) and I don’t think this takes away from his reputation. But I think it’s interesting that Colletta gets bashed for it and Palmer does not.

I suppose that’s a result of Colletta doing it on Kirby’s pencils (god forbid anyone touch The King! There are Kirby partisans out there, and loud ones, who are incensed that anyone exert any sort of editorial control over Jack’s work), Colletta having done such a volume of work, and Palmer (despite his greatness) still being relatively anonymous as an inker…

I also loved Bob Hall’s comment reminding us that every artist hates it when someone else touches their work, how he hated Vinnie’s inks on his pencils at the time, thinking they sucked. And now with touching honesty can say that the pencils sucked worse at the time and the ink job actually improved the work. Classy by Bob Hall.

Yes, I thought that was a refreshing and honest opinion by Bob Hall that puts it all in perspective.

Once again, IIRC Stan explained Doom not knowing Ben because Doom didn’t consider him important enough to remember.

I’m not a Colletta fan, but erasing a tiny figure from one panel doesn’t strike me as a big deal. My main problem with his inks is just that his style clashes horribly with Kirby’s. Colletta’s linework is thin and fussy, and he flattens everything out. The faces lose a lot of their character, and the drama is muted. I wouldn’t say he “ruined” Kirby’s artwork, but he didn’t seem to really understand it (or care to), and a lot of the power and nuance got lost in the translation.

“How many other non-Kirby pencil erasures by Colletta have surfaced? I don’t know of any. ”
Eric Larsen complained of a fill-in story he pencilled having erasures.

I never was a big Colletta fan, especially when he was paired with an artist like Gene Colan whose fluid style was not at all complimented by Vince’s etchy inks. BUT his work on Thor was amazing. It’s very clear that Colletta’s deficiencies were caused more by deadlines and workload than by lack of talent.

It’s hard to imagine in these days where months can pass between issues while we wait for the artists to finish pages, but there was a time when putting the book out on time took precidence over almost any other considerations.

Interestingly enough, Twomorrows Publishing is planning upcoming retrospectives on both Vince Colletta and Don Heck, as part of an oft “maligned” creators examination. It will apparently attempt to explain just why these artists are touchstones of controversy, and whether or not all is really deserved.

I look forward to it.

I don’t see the big deal about the panel. I’m not a fan of Colletta’s work, but removing Reed improves the composition.

It was all rushed back then. As several posts have already noted, this stuff had a print deadline that had to be met. Marvel had this really weird distribution system that they were locked into with a company that was controlled by DC IIRC. Kirby was dong multiple books per month and the books had to be ready to meet the delivery dates to the newstands.

Yes, it was all rushed, but it was especially rushed in Coletta’s case because he was the guy who got assignments that were ALREADY running late in the inking process and were in danger of not making the deadline. So the books were rushed to begin with and for some reason on top of that the previously assigned inker drops out or can’t finish, creating an extra rush on top of the original one. That was what Coletta was often working with.

It’s sad that the defense of Colletta has sunk to the level of assuming that every job he ever did in his life was bad not because of his lack of skills or devotion but because it was running late. I asked John Romita about this once at a New York Con and he said “Stan and Jack were never late on Thor. Sometimes, that book was six months ahead”. Colletta inked everything overnight regardless of when it was due. The same low quality was there in everything he touched. That was why Neal Adams called him the worst inker in the business, Kirby fired him, Alex Toth threatened to quit if his work went to Colletta and other professionals didn’t want him inking their pencils. You should have heard John Buscema talk about him.

Whether he erased a figure here and there is not important. I would imagine all inkers did that at times. I just find the work generally bad. I’m sure he was a nice guy and that there were times editors were happy to have a guy around who could ink a book overnight. Maybe he even fixed up the work of beginners like Bob Hall was then. I just think that all the major artists never looked worse than when Colletta inked their work.

Colletta was a hack. Look at his DC work. Look at his ink job on Matt Baker pencils. Hack. Anyone who likes his inks only has taste in their mouths.

Wise up. Even if Kirby was never late with THOR, Marvel still dropped a ton of other work on Colletta’s desk every week. So what happens to the stuff that was turned in on time? It goes into the “there’s only so much time in the week” hopper. Therefore, due to Marvel (and Stan’s) piling on, everything else Vinnie was inking HAD to suffer.

One last point-THOR never suffered and one look at any of those issues can’t help but confirm that.

PS: Romita has bad-mouthed Colletta before and I’m not sure it wasn’t personal, Romita got thrown off all of Atlas’ romance titles once Colletta started drawing for them. As far as Buscema goes, I never saw any proof that Big John ever said even one bad word about Vinnie except via rumors.

It’s a myth that Marvel and Stan were piling work on Colletta. He didn’t do that much for them. Many months, he didn’t ink anything more than Thor for them and sometimes one other book.

Most inkers can comfortably ink two books a month. If the story is true that Marvel was piling work on him, then you should be able to name several months where he inked three or four comics.

Someone on a board a year or two ago did a search on the Grand Comics Database and figured out how much work Colletta did for Marvel. It averaged out to less than two books a month. This was in the era when most artists were like Kirby and Buscema and Colan and were very dependable and rarely late.

Colletta did do a lot of work. He got work from DC mostly on romance comics. He did work for Charlton and Dell. He knocked it all out fast.

I don’t like his inking on Thor. It looks rushed and the faces aren’t as human as the faces in any other Kirby art inked by someone else. If you like it that is your right but there is a reason Joe Sinnott has so many fans and every time someone mentions Colletta on a message forum you see messages like many of those posted here.

John Buscema gave his opinion of Colletta on several panels. The Jack Kirby Collector printed transcripts of some of them. I spoke to him in person at a New York Con and he told me how much he disliked Colletta’s work. You can choose to not believe me if you want but the panels had witnesses and we can’t all be lying.

I believe ya! My opinion, if were talking about the guys later work, would be the same so what context Buscema was using I don’t know. The piling on was pretty coincidental with the erasing stories, I think he erases and changes stuff as the late assignments stuff start hitting the fan later on, mid 1970s maybe.

I strongly disagree that Colletta cut corners at all during the early Marvel superhero era. I mean….the tiny Reed Richards? The missing head? Come on. And beyond that I haven’t seen any more than any other inker might have missed.

Animal Comics 1, what a beautiful, dynamic and expressive cover!

Isn’t it so?

Amazing work by Kelly.

Here’s a picture of Kelly from some time in the 1950s…

Are you sure?!
That looks like Ricky Gervais to me!

Wow, that “Panic” material is pretty lousy. No wonder it didn’t last. You can tell that “Panic” didn’t have anyone nearly on the level of Harvey Kurtzman at the wheel just from the covers. One, a sublime piece of genius comedy, the other a nasty, unfunny piece that doesn’t even approach humor. The “Night Before Christmas” story isn’t much better. Lots of visual detail (as one would expect from Elder), but nothing really funny or memorable; just everything and the kitchen sink.

I always liked Colletta’s inks and I’m not surprised that Kirby would get rid of him during his DC period. That was when Kirby’s ego was beginning to get out of control and he wouldn’t want anyone not slavishly devoted to his vision. Kirby is probably the greatest comic book artist of all time, but he needed guidance and editorial control. Once he gained his “freedom”, his work suffered. As for the central issue concerning Colletta, I’ve never yet seen a panel where he omitted something to the detriment of the overall work. He had a good eye for what was needed and what wasn’t. I’ve got a page of original art by Adam Hughes (from Nexus #20) and John Nyberg covered over an entire face and erased an arm from a character. I was interested to see it, but it never occurred to me that I should be outraged. My position is that when you hire an inker, it’s his job to give you the work as they see fit. If anyone at Marvel had a problem with Reed having been removed, it would have been a few minutes work to put him back. (Heck, he’s so small, *I* could do a decent job on it.) The fact that he *wasn’t* put back means that editorial all the way up to Stan Lee didn’t care that he wasn’t there. That’s good enough for me.

That was when Kirby’s ego was beginning to get out of control and he wouldn’t want anyone not slavishly devoted to his vision.

What on earth are you basing this charge of unbridled egotism on? I’ve read lots of Kirby history, and encountered most of the criticisms, but never yet I have I heard the him accused of letting his ego get out of control. Does the man who acquiesced to having his Superman heads redone by Plastino and Anderson strike you as a victim of his own ego? Kirby was the consummate company man, and if anything this was the true hold on his creativity for so many years.

A giant phallic object called The Stimulator? Really?

The title of the poem is “A Visit From Saint Nick.”
“‘Twas the night before Christmas” is just the first line, but for some reason, it’s become generally accepted as the name of the poem.
That’s not the title on the original published work, though.

Also, Pogo rules! So smart/funny!

Any more scans?

Thanks.

That seems to be a minor and insignificant erasure. It actually enhances the panel. I think it more egregious when he erased background charcters in large scenes. A why the vendetta against Colletta by Evanier. Evanier is a writer for the Wuzzles and Garfield, for chrissakes….

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