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Underappreciated Artist Spotlight – Herb Trimpe

Here’s Scott’s last UAS piece. His new column starts tomorrow! – BC

EDITED TO ADD: Due to some log-in snafus, Scott’s first piece will be Wednesday, instead.

It’s time for another installment of UAS, this time feature Herb Trimpe. Trimpe was a real Marvel mainstay for those of us who devoured comics in the Bronze Age. Although mostly associated with the Incredible Hulk, he could draw everything from westerns to monster books.

I’d never call myself a huge Trimpe fan, but I’ve always admire his clean look which almost seemed to be the Marvel ‘house’ look because he worked on so many titles.

The strange thing is; I still think his best work was his first full length story – the “Phantom Eagle” from Marvel Super-Heroes #16. How many artists hit the ball completely out of the park on their first at-bat in the big leagues? Here are a couple of pages from that issue.

Trimpe also has a real knack for cover design – so many of his Hulk covers played with perspective to make them even more dynamic. Sometimes even just a slight tilting could bring a static image to life. Here’s my favorite of his Hulk covers (also used for a Power Records cover, IIRC) and one of his best western covers.

It’s just dazzling – it’s really too bad that westerns went out of fashion because I truly believe that many artists excelled in that genre.

Trimpe definitely became the go-to guy at Marvel when they began licensing everything under the sun (see. Shogun Warriors, Godzilla and GI Joe to name but a few). Obviously Jim Shooter had faith in Trimpe, and put him on one high profile assignment after another. His versatility is indeed one of his real strengths as he really could do nice job on just about anything. You want a re-cap of Star Wars in a single page? Herb’s your man.

Like so many skilled Bronze Age artists, Trimpe seemed to fall off the radar screen at Marvel. Tastes change and it’s too bad that so many artists seem to be put out to pasture long before their time. He’s still doing work from time to time (I believe his did a recent BPRD issue for Dark Horse) For those looking to get a taste of Herb Trimpe at this best – I highly recommend tracking down that Phantom Eagle story, his work of the latter issues of Nick Fury and his take on Ant-Man in Marvel Feature. Frugal Hulk fans know that there’s a goldmine of fun Trimpe art in the Essentials volumes.

29 Comments

I’m not really a fan, aside from that Phantom Eagle stuff. His art always looks…lumpy, to me.

Hiring John Severin to ink Trimpe in the late sixties, rather than putting Jaunty John on a book of his own, still seems like a weird move to me, and the Liefeld-esque style Trimpe was encouraged to use at the end of his Marvel tenure is pretty painful to see. Definitely underappreciated.

Here’s Trimpe’s New York Times piece on his 1996 firing from Marvel.

Still the greatest artist GI Joe ever had.

I always enjoyed Mr. Trimpe (rhymes with ‘blimpy’)..found him to be a cross of Kirby and Romita Sr. veryfound memories indeed. ”good times…”

I’ve been buying the Essential Hulk books mainly for Trimpe’s art. I love the issues with him and Severin together. I’ m a big fan of both of their art seperate from one another, too. Now that I’m thinking of it, John Severin would be another good pick for an underappreciated artist spotlight.

I hated his GI Joe work when I was a kid (I much preferred Ron Wagner’s clean lines) but re-reading those old comics recently, I’ve discovered a newfound appreciation for his quirky style.

The NYT piece showed Trimpe as one of the most fucked over artists in the industry. I almost cried when I read that. This is what Kirkman is talking about friends.

I love Trimpe’s Hulk run. At one point he designs the composition and look of the forces asigned to the Hulkbusters base (tanks, fighters, transports…) and keeps it consistentup unitl it’s disbanded. He’s one of the greatest designer of vehicles and technology on the comics field.

Herb! The first man ever to draw Wolverine! The Hulk artist that, so far as I am concerned, created the character’s modern appearance and the go to guy for giant robots. I love Herb Trimpe. Underappreciated is right for this man.

You know, as a kid I used to hate Herb Trimpe’s art. HATED IT.

This article has totally turned me around. What was I thinking?!

This has been a great series of pieces. Not only have you reminded me of long-forgotten artists I loved, now you’re making me love long-forgotten artists I once hated! Good job!

Glad someone mentioned that he co-created, um, Wolverine. And that his Liefeldian stuff in the 90′s was torture, both to draw and to read.

Great pick for underappreciated artist, but a crime you didn’t showcase his G.I. Joe work (which I’m probably over fond of – it’s what got me into comics). Very good series and a gem of a pick this time around. Keep up the good work.

Trimpe didn’t co-create Wolverine, he just drew his first appearance. Wolverine’s visual was actually created by John Romita, Sr.

It’s always funny to me how people say “John Romita, Sr.” I always want to correct them and say, “He’s just JOHN ROMITA.” He was never referred to as “Senior” until after his son started drawing, even though of course he was a “Senior” the second he gave his son his name.

Herb Trimpe is my hero. I got to meet him at San Diego six or eight years ago and we spent a couple of minutes comparing notes about what it was like to jump from commercial art to teaching middle school. He’s a fine artist but what sticks with me over the years, hearing about his teaching and his working as a chaplain for the 9/11 rescue workers, is that he’s mostly a hell of a good guy.

Wasn’t it MARIE Severin who inked Trimpe’s early Hulk art, not John?

Incredible Hulk 140, the first Jarella story, remains a favorite of mine.

I’m not sure if I’d agree with the statement that “Trimpe as one of the most fucked over artists in the industry” since the competition for that position is pretty fierce.

Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast.

Not excusing it at all, but just sayin…

It’s always funny to me how people say “John Romita, Sr.” I always want to correct them and say, “He’s just JOHN ROMITA.” He was never referred to as “Senior” until after his son started drawing, even though of course he was a “Senior” the second he gave his son his name.

I never claimed or tried to imply that he was actually called John Romita Sr. way back then. I just wanted to be as clear as possible for readers who aren’t well versed in comic history and for whom JR Jr is the only Romita they know.

“He was never referred to as “Senior” until after his son started drawing, ”

No one called Al Unser Sr. “Senior” until Al Jr. started racing, but when you have a same name father and son working in the same field, that always happens after the fact. Unambiguity is to be desired.

(Well, I guess the contemporary motorsport example is Nelson Piquet Jr., but inexplicably no one in F1 seems to add the “junior”, which makes things even more confusing.)

Trimpe drew the difinitive Hulk. His storytelling is solid and remains so with the B.P.R.D. one-shot that recently came out. I also loved his Shogun Warriors and Godzilla runs. The appearance of the Harpy in Incredible Hulk #168, and the Wedigo from Incredible Hulk #162 remain two of my favorite comics ever.

I loved his late 1969-1970 work,such as from hulk 111,121-140.They were very written as well.Absolutly hated his early 90s stuff,where he re invented his style,to a riff on Liefield.Think he drove away many of his old fans by changing his style.

“Wasn’t it MARIE Severin who inked Trimpe’s early Hulk art, not John? ”

Actually, Trimpe started on the series as Marie Severin’s inker. She never inked him.

He took over as penciller when she left the book.

actually, Marie did once ink a Trimpe Hulk–#190, which was a beautiful job.

I grew up on Herb’s Hulk. It was awesome stuff. I can’t say enough good things about the man. He’s a big part of the reason I’m in comics today.

[...] Trimpe is a very good comic book artist, and as our own Scott has noted in the past, is a quite underappreciated [...]

I always enjoyed Herb’s art and recently I was able to contract a commission from him. You can see it here – http://tinyurl.com/8wupp8 – and read about why I chose this theme.

He’s a good guy and easy to contact – http://www.herbtrimpe.com. His art looks great, his service is even better.

It’s great to see Trimpe getting the respect he deserved for his work on the Hulk. In a lot of those issues, virtually every panel’s a masterclass in how to do a Hulk story. He did a fantastic job on the first couple of Son of Satan tales as well. The insane feverishness of them is terrific.

Way back before some of you were born, 1970-something, Stan Lee and Herb were guests on a BBC tv programme called Pebble Mill at One. Herb’s speed and versatlilty was incredible! He was obviously expecting Stan to talk about one character, male, as he started to draw. The host, Bob Langley I think, must have inspired Stan to talk female so, obviously surprised, Herb instantly changed the character to Medusa! I can’t remember who else he drew but this was LIVE tv with no VCRs in evidence at home. I saw it ONCE and it still sticks in my mind. That’s how exciting it was to see Stan and Herb on U.K. tv! :D

@NeilNotNiel–Herb Trimpe was on PEBBLE MILL?!?!?! I just remember that program–just!

Trimpe’s Captain Britain was one of the first American comics I ever read, if not the first, reprinted in one of those weird hardback annuals we used to get in the UK. I got rid of it and then, later, when I REALLY got into US comics, I always remembered the Capt. Britain origin being drawn by Kirby. The drawing style did have a lot in common with The King.

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