Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Herb Trimpe R.I.P.
One of my heroes is gone. The news of the passing of Herb Trimpe comes as a shock. Herb Trimpe was one of my favorite artists, a yeoman storyteller with an inviting style who hit his marks month in and month out with attractive appealing pages filled with adventure and heart.
I first knew the name Herb Trimpe as the artist on Marvel Super-Heroes #16 featuring the debut (and for decades only solo appearance) of The Phantom Eagle. Soon enough he became the regular artist on The Hulk, long one of my two favorite comics and my admiration for his work was sealed for all time.
Trimpe was one of the kind of artists I most admire, the kind who show up and get it done. There was never a whiff of the prima donna about Trimpe or his work, rock solid stuff which delivered the goods. Whether he was handling one hero or twenty, he drew away with gusto and filled the comic with energy and verve.
I liked him best when he inked himself, but rarely did deadlines allow such a thing, but he did that a lot on the myriad western covers he kicked out for Marvel. Trimpe was the quintessential Marvel Bullpenner until the sad day when he wasn't. Not unlike the purge which afflicted DC way back in the early 70's, Marvel reduced its staff and longtime talents, dedicated to the company, were asked to pack their bags after decades of loyal service. Here is what he said about that.
I think it's in these post-Bullpen days when my admiration for Trimpe grew even more. He rose above the hardship and at that late stage of his career (approximately a place I'm at right now actually) he redirected his energy into teaching and serving. His book The Power of Angels is arguably the most durable comics-connected tome to rise out of the ashes of the 9-11 tragedy, because in that book we find the hope which for a sadly brief time filled our nation. I need to read it again.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Herb Trimpe and happily he turned out to be exactly what I hoped, a gracious and charming man. I had him autograph my copy of Marvel Super-Heroes #16, a book he genuinely seemed happy to see. He shouted out to Gary Friedrich, the writer of that tome who was next to him in the adjacent booth and I got both signatures on that day. I then commissioned a portrait of the Phantom Eagle which I cherish still.
Salute Herb, and godspeed. You've earned your rest.