Herb Trimpe
Trimpe at the 2015 East Coast Comiccon,
his last convention appearance
BornHerbert William Trimpe
(1939-05-26)May 26, 1939
Peekskill, New York, United States
DiedApril 13, 2015(2015-04-13) (aged 75)
Area(s)Writer, Penciller, Inker
Notable works
The Incredible Hulk
The Defenders
Son of Satan
AwardsBob Clampett Humanitarian Award, 2002
Inkpot Award, 2002

Herbert William Trimpe[1] (/trɪmp/; May 26, 1939 – April 13, 2015) was an American comics artist and occasional writer, best known as the seminal 1970s artist 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.

Early life

Herb Trimpe was born May 26, 1939,[2] in Peekskill, New York,[3][4] the son of Anna (Jamison) and Herbert Trimpe.[5] He graduated from Lakeland High School.[3] His brother, Mike Trimpe, inked an Ant-Man story that Trimpe pencilled in Marvel Feature #6 (Nov. 1972).[6] Of his childhood art and comics influences, he said in 2002, "I really loved the Disney stuff, Donald Duck and characters like that. Funny-animal stuff, that was kind of my favorite, and I liked to draw that kind of thing. And I also liked ... Plastic Man. ... I loved comics since I was a little kid, but I was actually more interested in syndicating a comic strip than working in comics."[7] As well, "I was a really big fan of EC Comics and [artist] Jack Davis."[7]


Trimpe commuted to New York City for three years to attend the School of Visual Arts.[8] 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."[9]

Trimpe then enlisted in the United States Air Force "for four years," he recalled in 1997, "the standard enlistment time, from 1962 to 1966. I was a weatherman, and our unit was on loan, you might say, to the Army. We supplied aviation weather support to the First Air Cavalry Division based in the central highlands in Viet Nam. They used helicopters extensively to move troops around."[10] He achieved the rank of Senior Airman.[citation needed]

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.[4]

His joining the Marvel production staff was announced in the "Bullpen Bulletins" of Marvel comics cover-dated June 1967, such as Fantastic Four #63. He remained associated with the company 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 stories in the Western series Kid Colt, Outlaw #134–135 (May and July 1967).[11] 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).[12]

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 (Aug. 1968), he went on to draw the character for a virtually unbroken run of over seven years, through issue #142 (Aug. 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).[11] Under the Marvel Method of writer-artist collaboration, Trimpe, like other Marvel artists of the time, was uncredited co-plotter of most of his stories, a working arrangement Trimpe said he enjoyed.[13]

Among the characters co-created by Trimpe during his run on the title were Jim Wilson in issue #131 (Sept. 1970)[14] and Doc Samson in #141 (July 1971).[15] 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 was conceived by Roy Thomas, written by Len Wein and designed by Marvel de facto art director John Romita Sr. as 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.[16] 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."[17] Trimpe co-created nearly all of the characters introduced during his run on The Incredible Hulk, with Wolverine being a rare exception.[13]

He said that he devised the military unit the Hulkbusters, which became a regular element of The Incredible Hulk:

[The series' writers] came up with the major concepts. I was not involved much with the creation of the new characters or new ideas. I didn't want to be. The concept of the Hulkbusters, however, was my idea. I did [the schematic diagram of the base]. I also designed the unit emblem, which was an "H" being shattered by a lightning bolt. You remember, "Thunderbolt" was [antagonist] General Ross' nickname. [The aerial-view design of the base as a peace symbol was used] purposefully as a design for the Hulkbuster base, but it really wasn't a joke. It was just meant as the ironic juxtaposition of a military base run by an aggressive, blustery general, and the military base design being a symbol of peace. It was like in the '60s and '70s when protesters stuck flowers down the barrels of National Guard rifles. It was a provocative gesture.[10]

Trimpe also had a year's run on The Defenders (#68–81, February 1979 – March 1980), a superhero-team comic featuring the Hulk.[18] He also drew the cover, featuring the Hulk, of the 1971 issue of Rolling Stone containing a major profile of Marvel Comics.[19]

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."[9]

Other Marvel work

Trimpe sketching at the Big Apple Comic Con, October 2, 2010
Trimpe sketching at the Big Apple Comic Con, October 2, 2010

As a Marvel mainstay, Trimpe would draw nearly every starring character, including Captain America (Captain America #184 and 291), the Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four Annual #25–26 in 1992–1993; Fantastic Four Unlimited #1–12 in 1993–1995), Iron Man (Iron Man #39, 82–85, and 93–94 in the 1970s, plus occasional others), Ka-Zar (Astonishing Tales #7–8, 1971), Nick Fury (Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #13–15, 1969), Thor (Thor Annual #15–16, 1990–1991), Ant-Man (Marvel Feature #4–6), Killraven (Amazing Adventures #20–24, #33), Rawhide Kid, Spider-Man, and many more as the regular artist of Marvel Team-Up #106–118 (1981–1982) and Marvel Team-Up Annual #3–4 (1980–1981).[11] As the artist of Super-Villain Team-Up, Trimpe co-created the Shroud with writer Steve Englehart.[20] Captain Britain was introduced by Chris Claremont and Trimpe in an ongoing series published by Marvel UK.[21] In 1976, Trimpe was one of the inkers of Captain America's Bicentennial Battles, an oversized treasury-format one-shot written and penciled by Jack Kirby.[22] Trimpe drew Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980) "Spider-Man vs. the Hulk at the Winter Olympics" which featured a story set at the 1980 Winter Olympics by writers Mark Gruenwald, Steven Grant, and Bill Mantlo.[23] Jack Kirby's Machine Man character was revived in a 1984 limited series drawn by Trimpe.[24]

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 (Aug. 1977 – July 1979);[25] drew all but one of the 20-issue Shogun Warriors;[26] 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 eight other issues, three of which he also wrote or co-wrote;[27] 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); and three issues of The Transformers.[11]

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."[10]


When Marvel went bankrupt in the mid-1990s, Trimpe attended Empire State College, Hudson Valley Center, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Arts in 1997.[28] He went on to a master's degree program at SUNY New Paltz.[10] Beginning September 8, 1999, he taught art for two years at Eldred Central School in Sullivan County, New York.[29]

He lost his staff position in the mid-1990s when Marvel downsized, but he continued to freelance for the publisher. In 2000, he wrote an article for The New York Times about ageism in comics.[29]

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 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.[30][31] This was followed by a second Firehawks comic, the 24-page Firehawks 2: Breath of the Dragon.[32]

Trimpe's last convention appearance was at the April 2015 East Coast Comiccon in Secaucus, New Jersey.[33][34][35]

Personal life

Sometime between 1969 and 1971, Trimpe was divorced from his first wife.[36] In late 1972, Trimpe married Marvel Comics editorial assistant and writer Linda Fite,[37] with whom he had three children.[3] He later was married to Patricia, who survived him after his death.[38] Trimpe's son, Alexander Spurlock "Alex" Trimpe,[39] who co-pencilled RoboCop #11 (Jan. 1991), The Mighty Thor Annual #16 (1991), and Fantastic Four Unlimited #3 (Sept. 1993) with his father, is a member of the band The Chief Smiles. Trimpe's daughters Amelia Fite Trimpe[40] and Sarah Trimpe were also in that band.[41] At some point, Trimpe lived in Kerhonkson, New York,[42] and afterward Hurley, New York.[43]

Trimpe was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of New York on May 30, 1992.[1][44]

Trimpe died on April 13, 2015, aged 75.[45]



Big Apple Productions

Dark Horse Comics

Dell Comics

IDW Publishing

Image Comics

Marvel Comics

Western Publishing

Trading Cards


  1. ^ a b "Herbert William Trimpe". Church Publishing Incorporated > ClergyQuickFind. Archived from the original on April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  2. ^ Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Porch Dogs: The Unmuzzled Truth About Men and Our Relationships with Them: The Illustrators — Herb Trimpe". (book official website). 2004. Archived from the original on February 13, 2005.
  4. ^ a b "An Interview with Herb Trimpe". Green Skin's Grab-Bag (fan site). November 9, 1997. Archived from the original on November 3, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)Additional , October 7, 2010.
  5. ^ "28 Babies Born Here Last Month" (PDF). The Highland Democrat. Peekskill, New York. June 15, 1939. p. 4.
  6. ^ Cassell, Dewey (April 2014). "Marvel Feature". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (71): 14.
  7. ^ a b Trimpe interviewed July 2002, in Andreasen, Henrik (December 21, 2009). "Hulk-inued! An Interview with Herb Trimpe". SequentialTart.com. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  8. ^ "Herb Trimpe". Lambiek Comiclopedia. September 5, 2012. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Hatcher, Greg (August 3, 2002). "San Diego, Day 1: Reminiscing with Herb Trimpe". CBR.com. Archived from the original on January 9, 2011. Retrieved April 1, 2008. Note: While Trimpe has no confirmed credit on an adaptation of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, he inked Tom Gill on the 32-page adaptation of Verne's "Mysterious Island" in Dell Comics Four Color #1213 (Jan. 1962).
  10. ^ a b c d Trimpe interview, Green Skin's Grab Bag, p. 2
  11. ^ a b c d Herb Trimpe at the Grand Comics Database
  12. ^ DeFalco, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1960s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 131. ISBN 978-0756641238. Aviation buff Herb Trimpe, who flew his own biplane for many years, teamed up with writer Gary Friedrich to create flying ace the Phantom Eagle. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)
  13. ^ a b Buttery, Jarrod (February 2014). "Hulk Smash!: The Incredible Hulk in the 1970s". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (70): 3–18.
  14. ^ Sanderson, Peter "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 146: "This issue [#131] saw the introduction of Jim Wilson, a character created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Herb Trimpe"
  15. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 150: "Created by Roy Thomas and artist Herb Trimpe, Dr. Leonard Samson was a psychiatrist...[who] irradiated himself with gamma rays and transformed into a super-strong being."
  16. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 167: "Len Wein wrote and Herb Trimpe drew Wolverine's cameo appearance in The Incredible Hulk #180 and his premiere in issue #181."
  17. ^ Lovece, Frank (April 24, 2009). "Wolverine Origins: Marvel artists recall the creation of an icon". Film Journal International. New York, New York. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009.
  18. ^ DeAngelo, Daniel (July 2013). "The Not-Ready-For-Super-Team Players: A History of the Defenders". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (65): 11.
  19. ^ Green, Robin. "Face Front! Clap Your Hands, You're on the Winning Team!", Rolling Stone #91, September 16, 1971, via "Green Skin's Grab-Bag" (fan site) (Archived October 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine)
  20. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 175: "Writer Steve Englehart and artist Herb Trimpe created the Shroud, a blind vigilante with mystical abilities, in Super-Villain Team-Up #5."
  21. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 176: "Writer Chris Claremont and artist Herb Trimpe created a new super-hero specifically for Marvel's readers in the United Kingdom."
  22. ^ Powers, Tom (December 2012). "Kirby Celebrating America's 200th Birthday: Captain America's Bicentennial Battles". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (61): 46–49.
  23. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1980s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 113. ISBN 978-0756692360. Spider-Man's fights with the Incredible Hulk were always popular with the fans, so Marvel decided to pitch the wall-crawler against the Hulk when the Mole Man and his gang of villains crashed the festivities of the prestigious Winter Olympics. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)
  24. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 219: "Machine Man was a living robot who was relaunched in 1984 by Tom DeFalco, Herb Trimpe, and Barry Windsor-Smith."
  25. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 180: "In August 1977, Marvel produced comics featuring the most famous monster in Japanese cinema, Godzilla, in a series by writer Doug Moench and penciller Herb Trimpe."
  26. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 188: "Writer Doug Moench and artist Herb Trimpe created Shogun Warriors, a Marvel comics series based on a line of Japanese toys imported by Mattel."
  27. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 207
  28. ^ "Notable Alumni". SUNY Empire State College. Archived from the original on January 12, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  29. ^ a b Trimpe, Herb (January 7, 2000). "Old Superheroes Never Die, They Join the Real World". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2011. Additional WebCitation archive, January 8, 2011.
  30. ^ "Comic Strip on Bugatti Airplane Finally Published". Bugatti Aircraft Association. December 9, 2009. Archived from the original on July 14, 2010. (Requires scrolldown)
  31. ^ "Firehawks Featuring the Bugatti 100 by Herb Trimpe". BugattiPage.com. n.d. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011.
  32. ^ "Firehawks comic Book 2: Breath of the Dragon". BugattiPage.com. n.d. Archived from the original on December 30, 2013.
  33. ^ Greenfield, Dan (April 14, 2015). "Comics Creators Remember Herb Trimpe". 13th Dimension. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016.
  34. ^ Ching, Albert (April 14, 2015). "Incredible Hulk, G.I. Joe Artist Herb Trimpe Passes Away at Age 75". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on September 6, 2016.
  35. ^ Johnston, Rich (April 14, 2015). "Herb Trimpe Passes Away, Aged 75". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on April 12, 2016.
  36. ^ Green, Rolling Stone: "He's been through a lot of changes in the last two years, including a divorce. His old lady now is Linda Fite, who used to work at Marvel."
  37. ^ Their wedding was announced in the "Bullpen Bulletins" in Marvel Comics cover-dated March 1973 and on sale two to three months earlier, with production two to three months before that: "Four or Five Phenomenal Flashes, Fitfully Fashioned to Fight Lethargy (Or: Those Wedding Bells Are Waking Up That Old Gang of Mine)".
  38. ^ McMillan, Graeme (April 14, 2015). "Herb Trimpe, Co-Creator [sic] of 'Wolverine,' Dies at 75". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 14, 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  39. ^ Name per birth announcement in the "Bullpen Bulletins": "Just Thomas and Lee—and the Soapbox Makes Three" in Marvel Comics cover-dated January 1974, including Ka-Zar #1.
  40. ^ "Bullpen Bulletins" in Marvel comics cover-dated January 1976.
  41. ^ Archive of "The Chief Smiles". Archived from the original on June 4, 2008. Retrieved April 1, 2017., HerbTrimpe.com
  42. ^ Archive of WhitePages.com listing November 3, 2011.
  43. ^ La Gorce, Tammy (March 24, 2013). "Comic Book Fundamentals". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 15, 2015.
  44. ^ "Herb Trimpe: If It Ain't Fun, It Ain't Comics". (interview) BryanReesman.com. August 28, 2009. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011.
  45. ^ Johnston, Rich (April 14, 2015). "Herb Trimpe Passes Away, Aged 75". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on April 14, 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  46. ^ "1973 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013.
  47. ^ "The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award". San Diego Comic-Con International. 2014. Archived from the original on October 30, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  48. ^ Ringgenberg, Steven (April 17, 2015). "Herb Trimpe: 1939-2015". Archived from the original on August 28, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2019. He won the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award in 2002, for his month-long stint as a volunteer chaplain at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks. ((cite magazine)): Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  49. ^ "Inkpot Award Winners". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
Preceded byMarie Severin The Incredible Hulk vol. 2 artist 1968–1975 Succeeded bySal Buscema Preceded byChic Stone Iron Man artist 1976–1977 Succeeded byGeorge Tuska Preceded byEd Hannigan The Defenders artist 1979–1980 Succeeded byDon Perlin Preceded byCarmine Infantino Marvel Team-Up artist 1981–1982 Succeeded byKerry Gammill