Herb Trimpe

Herbert W. "Herb" Trimpe is an American comic book artist and occasional writer, best known for his work on The Incredible Hulk and as the first artist to draw for publication the character Wolverine, who later became a breakout star of The X-Men.

Trimpe commuted to New York City for three years to attend the School of Visual Arts. There, Trimpe recalled in 2002, instructor and longtime comics artist Tom Gill needed a student "to ink his backgrounds and stuff. So that's how I started, at Dell [Comics], doing mostly Westerns and also licensed books, like the adaptation of the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth."

Trimpe then enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he served for four years, including a year in Vietnam. Upon his discharge in October 1966, he learned that fellow SVA classmate John Verpoorten was working at Marvel Comics' production department, and...said they were hiring freelance people, and I should come up to the office and show my work to Sol Brodsky, who was Stan [Lee]'s right-hand man at the time.... I was just preparing to put some material together and go to DC and Charlton when I got a call from Sol Brodsky, who was production chief. He said they needed somebody on staff in the production department to run the new photostat machine they had just bought, and to do some production work. I would primarily run the 'stat' machine and wouldn't be seated at a desk, but I would be able to pick up some freelance pencilling and inking. This kind of opened the door. The staff job didn't pay much by today's standards; I think it started at $135 dollars a week which wasn't as low as it sounds. Remember, it was 1966 and that was a fairly good entry-level salary.

He joined Marvel's production staff in 1967 and remained associated with the company as a contract artist through 1996. While operating the Photostat camera in the Marvel offices, Trimpe did freelance inking for Marvel, and made his professional penciling debut with two Kid Colt Western stories, in Kid Colt, Outlaw #134–135 (May & July 1967). Shortly thereafter, Trimpe and writer Gary Friedrich created Marvel's World War I aviator hero the Phantom Eagle in Marvel Super-Heroes #16 (Sept. 1968).

Hulk and the Silver Age of Comics

In the 1960s, during the period known as the Silver Age of Comics, Trimpe was assigned to pencil what became his signature character, the Hulk. Beginning with pencil-finishes over Marie Severin layouts in The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #106 (August 1968), he went on to draw the character for a virtually unbroken run of over seven years, through issue #142 (August 1971), then again from #145–193 (Nov. 1971 – Nov. 1975). Additionally, Trimpe penciled the covers of five Hulk annuals (1969, 1971–72, 1976–77, titled King-Size Special! The Incredible Hulk except for #4, The Incredible Hulk Special), and both penciled and inked the 39-page feature story of The Incredible Hulk Annual #12 (Aug. 1983).

During his time on the comic, he became the first artist to draw for publication the character Wolverine, who would go on to become one of Marvel's most popular. The character, designed by Marvel de facto art director John Romita Sr., was an antagonist for the Hulk, introduced in the last panel of The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #180 (Oct. 1974) and making his first full appearance the following issue. Trimpe in 2009 said he "distinctly remembers" Romita's sketch, and that, "The way I see it, [Romita and writer Len Wein] 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. We did characters in The [Incredible] Hulk all the time that were in [particular] issues and that was the end of them."

Trimpe also had a year's run on The Defenders (#69–81, March 1979–March 1980), a superhero-team comic featuring the Hulk. He also drew the cover, featuring the Hulk, of the 1971 issue of Rolling Stone containing a major profile of Marvel Comics.

The artist in 2002 recalled a less-than-smooth start to his Hulk tenure: "I did, like, three or four pages, and Stan [Lee] saw them and made Frank Giacoia do the layouts [for Trimpe's fourth issue, #109, Nov. 1968]. It wasn't my storytelling, there was a good flow there, but it was too [much like] EC [Comics] for Stan. I loved EC, the dark atmosphere and clean lines of it.... But it wasn't right for Marvel."

Other Marvel work

As a Marvel mainstay, Trimpe would draw nearly every starring character, including Captain America (Captain America #184, #291), the Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four Annual #25–26, 1982–1983; Fantastic Four Unlimited #1–12, March 1993 – Dec. 1995), Iron Man (Iron Man #39, #82–85, and #93–94 in the 1970s, plus occasional others), Ka-Zar (Astonishing Tales #7–8, Aug. & Oct. 1971), Nick Fury (Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #13–15, July–Nov. 1969 and #16–19, Oct. 1990 – Jan. 1991), Thor (Thor Annual #15–16, 1990–1991), Captain Britain (Captain Britain #1–10), Ant-Man (Marvel Feature #4–6), Killraven (Amazing Adventures #20–24, #33), Machine Man, Rawhide Kid, Spider-Man and many more as the regular artist of Marvel Team-Up #106–118 (June 1981 – June 1982) and Marvel Team-Up Annual #3–4 (1980–1981).

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Trimpe's Marvel work included licensed movie and TV franchises. He drew all but issues #4–5 of the 24-issue Godzilla (August 1977–July 1979); drew six issues of The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones (also writing the last two); G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1 (July 1982) and other issues; nearly the entire run of the 28-issue spin-off G.I. Joe Special Missions (1986–1989); three of the four-issue miniseries G.I. Joe: The Order of Battle (1986–1987); all of the 20-issue Shogun Warriors; and three issues of The Transformers.

Trimpe, in a 1997 interview, described his Marvel arrangement: "I was a quota artist, which was non-contractual but [I] received a salary. I got a regular two-week check, and anything I did over quota I could voucher for as freelance income. I also had the extras, the company benefits. It was like a regular job, but I worked at home. It was a good deal."


Trimpe sketching at the Big Apple Convention in Manhattan, October 2, 2010.

When Marvel went bankrupt in the mid-1990s, Trimpe returned to college to finish his bachelor's degree, and then attended a master's degree program at SUNY New Paltz.

Trimpe penciled BPRD: The War on Frogs (Aug. 2008) for Dark Horse Comics, and returned to his signature character by drawing the eight-page story "The Death and Life of the Abomination" in Marvel's King-Size Hulk #1 (July 2008). In 2009, Trimpe said he was drawing "a comic story for a West Coast rock band" that the interviewer identified as Orphaned to Hatred, "as a promotional piece." In December 2009, Trimpe, a Bugatti airplane enthusiast and member of the Bugatti Aircraft Association, published the eight-page comic book Firehawks, in which the Bugatti 100P plays a major role. [source: Wikipedia]

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