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In Memoriam: Herb Trimpe

April 16, 2015

Veteran comic book artist Herb Trimpe, whose work on The Incredible Hulk defined the look of the character for many and who illustrated Wolverine's first appearance, passed away at age 75 on Monday night, April 13, 2015. His cousin, Glen Baisley, announced Trimpe's death in a Facebook post.

“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,” Baisley wrote. “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.”

“Herb Trimpe was quietly one of the architects of the imaginations of comic collectors from the Silver Age on up. His tenure on The Incredible Hulk is impressive and well documented, but it his career was more than just that. Virtually every story he touched brought readers into the adventure. Whether it was in the pages of Captain Britain, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Shogun Warriors or Godzilla, a comic book story illustrated by Herb Trimpe was going to take the reader for a fantastic ride,” said Steve Geppi, President and CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors. “After being nearly forced out of our business in the ‘90s, it has been great to see him on guest rosters of so many conventions in recent years, and to know that so many fans had the opportunity to tell him what he and his work meant to them. Our industry is poorer for his absence, but so much richer because he was here.”

Trimpe was born and raised in Peekskill, New York where he graduated from Lakeland High School. He then went on to graduate from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Early in his career he worked at Dell Comics on Journey to the Centre of the Earth and a selection of Westerns. He enlisted in the US Air Force, working in meteorology, then left to join Marvel Comics. Trimpe started out in production, then as a freelance penciller and inker, he co-created the aviator character The Phantom Eagle, which will be revived this summer.

He is well known and respected for his work on The Incredible Hulk the book that hosted Wolverine’s first appearance. Trimpe drew The Incredible Hulk for seven years from 1968 to 1975 and often co-plotted the book. While working as a publisher at Marvel he drew Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, Fantastic Four Unlimited.

In the mid-1990s he went back to college to finish his degree and graduated with a BA in Arts in 1997 and then got a Master’s Degree at SUNY New Platz. After that he went on to teach art for two years at Eldred Central School in Sullivan County, New York. In 2002 he won the prestigious Inkpot Award and The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award for his work as a chaplain at the World Trade Center following the terroristic events of September 11, 2001.

Trimpe co-created brother and sister, Captain Britain and Psylocke. He worked on licensed titles G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and U.S. 1 and independent works such as B.P.R.D. and recently he has been drawing a strip for Savage Dragon.

Trimpe and inker Jack Abel’s final page from Incredible Hulk#180, which features the first brief appearance of Wolverine in the issue’s last panel, established a record for an original page of comic art when it sold for $657,250 at Heritage Auctions on Friday, May 16, 2014.

“In the annuals of comic book history, Herb Trimpe will forever be remembered as an artistic force and a wonderful designer. But that fact pales in comparison to Herb Trimpe the man. He was one of the most kind, fun and generous human beings I ever had the honor of calling a friend. I will miss our long conversations about flying. We are heartbroken for his family. Blue skies, pilot,” said writer-artist Billy Tucci.

“Herb was all-around stellar human being with a great sense of humor and a tremendous artistic talent. His work and his memory will remain in our hearts and minds forever,” said Jim McLauchlin, President of the Hero Initiative.

Last year, Trimpe illustrated the cover for Hero’s limited edition hardcover version of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. A 40th anniversary tribute to Wolverine’s first appearance, the image featured the Hulk, Wolverine and Wendigo.

“Herb was a great friend to the comics world in general, and to Hero Initiative in particular. Herb's family requests privacy as they make memorial arrangements. They also ask that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Hero Initiative or the Kerhonkson Accord First Aid Squad,” he said.

"With his long run on The Incredible Hulk, Herb Trimpe had already secured himself a place in comics history, but he went on to illustrate so many well-loved, fondly remembered comic books in the 1970s and '80s that he would have to count among the most influential comic artists of his day. He was one of those professionals who others seemed to eagerly tell you nice things about. We certainly could use a few more like him in our business, and without question he will be missed," said Robert M. Overstreet, author and publisher of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.

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