We’ve Lost Another Great One; Herb Trimpe Passed Away Age 75

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Photo credit: Glen Baisley

Herb Trimpe was one of the greats. He brought so much passion and love into his work, and became a legend for it. This industry is a sadder place without him.

After attending the School of Visual Arts in New York, Trimpe began inking instructor Tom Gill’s backgrounds on mostly westerns and licensed titles for Dell Comics. After a four year stint in the military, from 1962 until 1966, he began freelancing for Marvel Comics in the production department. He made his professional penciling debut with Kid Colt, Outlaw #134 in 1967, and remained with Marvel well into the ’90s.

In 1968, he and Gary Friedrich created the WWI aviator hero, Phantom Eagle. But the character he is most well known for, Wolverine, was just one of the touchstones of his legendary Incredible Hulk run. Trimpe was the signature artist on that series from August 1968, doing pencil finishes over Marie Severin, until August of 1971, then again from November 1971 until November 1975; a record seven nearly unbroken years on the title.

He went on to create many covers for the title after leaving and during his run even contributed many of the plots. Trimpe is responsible for creating the Hulkbuster military unit, co-creating Doc Samson and Jim Wilson, and for drawing the first appearance of Wolverine, who has gone on to be one of Marvel’s most famous characters.

Trimpe had drawn nearly every major Marvel character during his long career, including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, and more. He drew all but two issues of Godzilla, all but one issue of Shogun Warriors, and nearly the entire run of G.I. Joe: Special Missions. He was a highly prolific and dependable artist, and Marvel treated him well with a regular salary and benefits.

After Marvel’s bankruptcy in the late ’90s, Trimpe went back to school. Acquiring a Bachelor’s degree at Empire State College in 1997, and a Master’s at SUNY Paltz, before going on to teach art at Eldred Central School in New York in 1999. However, he didn’t leave comics behind. Trimpe penciled the BPRD: War on Frogs mini series in 2008, and was even featured in the recent Savage Dragon #200.

A staple at comic conventions, Herb Trimpe was loved by all who knew him, creator and fan alike. He was eminently approachable, and always had a kind word or two for star struck fans. He was an artist’s artist, with an easily recognizable style, and a mainstay of comics with an incredible body of work left behind. I am terribly sad to hear of his passing.

This morning, his cousin Glen Baisley, posted this message on Facebook.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing my cousin, Herb Trimpe, in action doing what he loved – meeting fans and drawing comics. I was there capturing video and interviews about his life and work with Marvel for a documentary that we were planning to work on.

Little did I know, this would be the final time I would get to see him. I wanted to share some very sad news with everyone. Monday night, Herb passed away.

He was a legend in the industry, the first artist to draw Wolverine for publication (HULK issue #181) and penciled some of the most iconic characters ever. He will be greatly missed.

Rest In Peace, Herb. You’ve earned it. (May 26, 1939 – April 13, 2015)

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