Vince Colletta has long been a controversial figure in comics history, known for his ability to ink an entire comic book over a weekend when needed, but often taking some startling shortcuts to meet his deadlines. He’s famous for inking such prominient comics artists as Jack Kirby (with a long run on THOR in the 1960s), Mike Grell (on WARLORD in the late 1970s), and nearly every other major artist at one time or another from the 1960s to the 1980s. He was rumored to have mafia connections and a side career photographing models and movie stars, and lived in a palatial estate that shouldn’t have been economically feasible on an inker’s salary. His departure from comics in the late 1980s was punctuated with a notorious letter to Marvel Comics’ editorial staff following the ousting of Jim Shooter as Marvel’s editor-in-chief, and that letter, vehemently defending Shooter, has only heightened the mystery surrounding this amazingly prolific comics artist.
In anticipation of the book’s release, TwoMorrows is letting readers download a FREE 5mb PDF preview of the chapter on Colletta’s THOR work at this link:
The impetus for this book was an article that appeared in The Jack Kirby Collector magazine in Spring 2000 under the title “The Thin Black Line: A Rough and Scratchy Defense of Vince Colletta.” Author 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 numerous examples of art by Jack Kirby and others (including side-by-side comparisons of the original pencils to Vince’s inks, so readers can see for themselves the kinds of shortcuts Colletta regularly took, and why). It includes commentary by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Joe Sinnott, Mike Royer, Carmine Infantino, Mark Evanier, Colletta’s son Franklin, and dozens of other comics pros.
When asked why he chose to publish an entire book on a comics inker whose work so many people disliked, publisher John Morrow replied, “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.’ But I think THE THIN BLACK LINE is 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 fans will check out the preview.”
Has this book changed Morrow’s opinion of Colletta and his work? “In a lot of ways, it has, and I think that, love him or hate him, you’ll walk away from this book with a new appreciation and understanding of this colorful and controversial comics professional. I know I did.”
The book is available for pre-ordering directly from TwoMorrows at this link:
THE THIN BLACK LINE will debut at Comic-Con International at booth #1301, and will be in stores July 30.