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Herb Trimpe and The Hulk

April 17, 2015

 

Some people knew Herb Trimpe as the comic book artist of titles such as Shogun Warriors, Godzilla, G.I. Joe, and The Defenders among others. But to me he will always be known as the artist on The Incredible Hulk.  

 Herb had an astounding approx. seven year run on the series starting with full pencils in issue #107 all the way until issue #193. In that time Herb got to draw almost every Marvel character (that guest starred in the series) plus a plethora of interesting colorful and insanely brilliant villains. To many people, he is the quintessential Hulk artist. 

 Back cover to Marvel Treasury Edition #5 “Hulk on the Rampage!” 1975 

After a short stint in the Air Force Herb joined Marvel comics in 1966 as a photostat operator. He was basically making photo copies and submitting artwork whenever he could. In 1968 he began his run on the Hulk, and the character’s popularity began to grow by leaps and bounds.

  

Herb was responsible for creating many characters; from Jim Wilson to Doc Samson and the military unit the Hulkbusters, a term coined by him which is still in use in the Marvel U to this day. His style ranged from the very dynamic to the often flat graphic to even bordering on the psychedelic. Herb was a big fan of E.C. Comics, and this influence showed through in the various monstrosities he created to battle ol’ greenskin. 

  

  

 

A little bit of science fiction and a whole lot of action were the key elements that defined Herb Trimpe’s tenure on the Hulk. 

  

   

 

In October 1974, in the Hulk title, the Marvel Universe would be changed forever. On the final page a new character appeared; a tiny little guy with three claws on his hand called The Wolverine.

  

Although he is often mis-credited as the co-creator of this character, Herb’s name will always be synonymous with the Canadian anti-hero. Created by writer Len Wein and artist John Romita, Trimpe said he “distinctly remembers” Romita’s sketch, and that, “The way I see it, they sewed the monster together and I shocked it to life! … It was just one of those secondary or tertiary characters, actually, that we were using in that particular book with no particular notion of it going anywhere.” Boy, were they wrong. Wolverine’s first “full” appearance would be in the next issue, the classic Hulk #181. 

  

As a bit of trivia, it appears The Wolverine was possibly a slight re-work of a character who also appeared in The Hulk series a few years earlier…in 1969 issues #120/121 featured an Inhuman called “Leonus” who faired almost as well as Wolverine did against the green skinned giant. 

  

In 2013, I was lucky enough to get my copy of Hulk #181 signed by Herb. When I asked him how many copies did he think he had signed over his lifetime, he just looked at me and smiled, “More than have been printed.” 

  

Herb passed away on April 13th at the age of 75 and is survived by his wife Patricia and four children. In 2002 Herb was a recipient of The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award for his work as a chaplain at the World Trade Center site following the September 11 attacksTrimpe was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of New York on May 30, 1992. 

   

         

In a statement, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said, “To me, no artist is as synonymous with the Incredible Hulk as Herb Trimpe, who gave the Jade Giant a sense of pathos and scale that set the bar for every artist that followed him. Like a Hulk-punch, Trimpe’s art truly exploded off the page. Comics lost a giant.”

   

     Cover art by Herb Trimpe and John Romita

  

 Cover to Rolling Stone #91 Sept. 1971

  Original page/Third Eye black light poster 1971

 Personal commission 2013 

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