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Remembering Herb Trimpe

Posted on April 21, 2015 at 9:55 PM

Originally, I planned to write a blog post to talk about Wildcard, our recently completed third issue and the upcoming fourth issue, which features some major developments in the life of Elizabeth Bradford. Then I heard the sad news about the death of Herb Trimpe, and I knew I had to discuss his life and work, instead. I started reading comics in the late 1970s, and while I read some DC titles, I was a Marvel fan from the get-go. Now, to some people, Marvel’s 1970s output was a low point between the 1960s Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko/Stan Lee House of Ideas and the early 1980s golden age led by John Byrne, Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson, etc. But not to me. To me, Marvel of the 1970s was a wonderful time, when Marvel stretched its legs and expanded into new characters, new titles and new approaches to storytelling. And I swear, Herb Trimpe drew half the comics I bought back then (and Sal Buscema drew the other half. But that’s a story for another day). Trimpe joined Marvel in 1967, following a four-year stint serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He soon became the signature artist on The Incredible Hulk, and drew nearly 100 consecutive issues of that title. Many of the Hulk’s most famous stories came during this era, including issue #181 – the debut of Wolverine. During my youth, Trimpe frequently was called upon to draw Marvel books based on licensed characters. My favorite of this bunch was Godzilla, and I also was a regular reader of Shogun Warriors. In the 1980s, Trimpe became synonymous with G.I. Joe. Perhaps my favorite Trimpe work was the Machine Man limited series he did with writer Tom DeFalco. A long- dormant Machine Man is reactivated in a dystopian future, where he finds himself in conflict with an evil descendant of Tony Stark. But beyond his amazing body of work, Trimpe left behind a legacy that would make the heroes he drew proud. An outpouring of comments from friends, family and former co-workers focused on Trimpe the person, not the artist. It’s clear he was beloved by those who knew him. My biggest regret as a comics fan came just a couple of years ago. Trimpe was signing and sketching at a comics convention in Charlotte, and I fully intended to get his autograph, and perhaps a sketch. However, his line was so long that I thought “I’ll swing back by later in the day.” I never did – and I never will now. But if I could, I’d tell Herb Trimpe “Thank you for so many great memories. You truly were an important part of my childhood.”

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