Sunday, 19 April 2015

In memory of Herb Trimpe.

It was with great sadness this past Tuesday that I learned of the passing of comics artist Herb Trimpe, at the age of 75. Sad, because though I never met him, Herb's art did have a very definite impact on my formative years as a comic reader.

I'm sure to some of you, especially for those who have come in to comics in the past 10-15 years, Herb Trimpe's name is probably not instantly recognisable. For those of you who do recognise the name you may not instantly be able to peg an art style.  In fact, I would imagine for a number of you that may be be a name you simply do not recognise at all.

Don't feel bad about that. As I say, Trimpe was 75. And while he has done some special comics projects for the likes of BPRD and Savage dragon in recent years his peak of output was across the late 60s, through the 70s and into the 1980s.

But the role which Herb Trimpe played, principally as an artist for Marvel Comics, really should not be understated. There are very few of the 1970s bigger named properties he did not draw at marvel, at one point or another. Most notably he was the artist on The Incredible Hulk for 7 straight years. During that time Trimpe co-created several characters who have become mainstays of the Hulk books such as Jim Wilson, the Hulkbusters, and Doc Sampson. But if even those don't ring a bell for you, I'm sure that you will be familiar with at least one other character which Herb co-created during that run.

Herb Trimpe was the co-creator of Wolverine.

My own personal exposure to comics as a young kid in the 80s was not through direct market comic stores. We had them in the UK, but I certainly wasn't taken to them at that age. It wasn't even entirely through newsagents, though they were the main outlet for UK comics. I hadn't the pocket money for that kind of thing until several years later.

For me it was jumble sales. My parents were teachers. School jumble sales played quite a role in my early childhood, and jumble sales meant people getting rid of their old stuff in the name of school fundraising. And that included old comics and magazines. Much of my early exposure to Marvel and DC comics, The Eagle, The Dandy, The Beano, et all came through picking up discarded comics from several years earlier.

And it was through those means also that I first came in contact with the work of Herb Trimpe. Not through The Hulk, or even Wolverine. But through a certain other character which Trimpe co-created for the British market with Chris Claremont.

Because Herb Trimpe was the co-creator of Captain Britain.

And while I am under no illusion as to which of those two creations the vast majority of people are likely to hold in higher esteem, these are the very books which brought me into reading comics. 

Trimpe provided art for the first 23 issues of Captain Britain, working with both Chris Claremont and Gary Friedrich after him. And yes, true, the costume he created is not the costume which survived to the present day. At this point in the character's history Brian Braddock was more of a combination of Spider-man and Daredevil than he was the uber-powerful Superman type that he is today. But these humble beginnings will always be important to a good many people. Even today you'll still find a good number of people who will argue that they preferred Herb's look for the character, and that the departure from it is something which still saddens them to this day.

Herb Trimpe's passing this week came as a bit of shock. Though granted it has been a while since he worked on a monthly comic, he had remained very active as an artist, and remained a regular on the convention scene. Even as a recently as last weekend, at East Coast Comicon in the States, in fact. He was a guest at London super Comicon a couple of years ago, and sadly it was still just a little to close to my Treatment to risk conventions at that point in time. I wished I could have met him. 

My thoughts go out to his friends and family. . 

For those reading comics here in the UK during the 1970s and 80s Herb Trimpe was rightly synonymous with a lot what they saw of Marvel Comics. He will be remembered. He will be missed.

If ever there were a time you aught to dig out those old Incredible Hulk issues or the early days of Captain Britain, I'd say this is a good opportunity. 

I'll leave you with some of tributes I have encountered online over the past few days. Please do feel free to share any others which you might have seen yourselves in the comments section, if you wish. 

Until the next time

Mark (Sword)

"Captain Britain. In honor & memory of the passing of comic book legend Herb Trimpe. God bless you, Herb. Thank you." -Todd Nauck  (@toddnauck)

"RIP Herb Trimpe. Thank you for bringing Wolverine, Captain Britain and many others to life. A true legend." Leo Sutherland (@leosutherland)

"Herb Trimpe & David Roach Captain Britain reprint cover collection for @OfficialPanini RIP #HerbTrimpe great piece" - Jon Haward (@ARTOFJONHAWARD)

"Here's a pic of #CaptainBritain vs Hurricane I did a while back for @LSComicCon -they asked for anything #herbtrimpe" John McCrea (@mccreaman)

"Another Cap pic with Spidey vs the Fury- #AlanDavis #HerbTrimpe mash up! Thanks again, Herb, for all the memories.." John McCrea (@mccreaman)

"For Herb from Mike Perkins lovely tribute #herbtrimpe #captainBritain" - Jon Haward (@ARTOFJONHAWARD)

"72 hrs ago I was talking to this man & thanking him for years of creative inspiration #eastcoastcomicon. #herbtrimpe" - Karl Ottersberg (@karlOttersberg)

"Beautiful Trimpe's self-portrait (via @emmartian )" - Javier Rodríguez (‏@javiercaste)


  1. One of the first Marvel comics I ever read was a black and white reprint compilation published at some point in the 70's and bought for me many years later in, yes, a jumble sale. The cover was split in four, with the Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor pictured in the quadrants, but for some reason Cap didn't get a story inside.

    I've never been able to identify the collection but I've always remembered the stories within, including a barnstorming Hulk versus Sub-Mariner battle drawn by Herb Trimpe. Thanks Herb.

  2. Your blog is the last comics site wich i continue to read closely.Thank for your passion.