Wednesday, April 15, 2015

RIP Herb Trimpe

A great light has gone out in comic books.

Comic book artist Herb Trimpe has died. He was 75.
The name Herb Trimpe might not be as well known in the mainstream as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, or even Steve Ditko, but for many of us "of an age," he left an indelible mark on our childhoods. Trimpe had many accomplishments in the industry, but for me, he will always be the one who visually cemented G.I. Joe in my mind's eye (see above).

I've written before about just how big of a deal G.I. Joe was to me as a kid. Heck, it still is. With his keen artistic style, Trimpe laid the groundwork for all that would follow with his work on the iconic Marvel Comics series. This became a standard not just for the comics, but the animated series and even anything live action. So far, nothing has really come close to the bar he set, other than the possible exception of a few of IDW's works. Another Marvel property that Trimpe had a big hand in was The Shogun Warriors.

Likewise, I've also written about how much I loved Shogun Warriors. While not as big of an influence as G.I. Joe, the Shoguns were certainly among my very favorite toys and comic books. Still are. At the same time (or roundabout, anyway), Trimpe was also drawing the Marvel Godzilla series. While it had as much or more cheese as Shogun Warriors, it did give us a giant robot in its own right: Red Ronin. Good stuff and all certainly food for the soul of that gawky, awkward kid known as Jon Nichols.

Most of comicdom at-large will know Herb Trimpe for having an extraordinarily long run as the artist on The Incredible Hulk. That was a big deal for me too as the stretch of Hulk written by Bill Mantlo was especially endearing to me as a kid. Indeed during Trimpe's run as artist, most of the title's writers came to rely heavily on Trimpe for both plotting and character design. As a consequence, Trimpe ended up co-creating several very important figures in the Hulk mythos, including Doc Samson. What is likely the biggest happenstance for comic book and pop culture fans overall is that Trimpe was the very first artist ever to draw Wolverine.

There he was. Meant as a second or third-string, "guest appearance" character, and Wolverine goes on to become one of the most popular in Marvel history. Who knew?

Herb Trimpe was an outstanding artist at just about everything he put his pencil to. For me, however, I will always remember the way he drew gear. I'm talking machines. Whether it was the Shoguns, G.I. Joe, or even just equipment for SHIELD, Trimpe could draw vehicles and devices that somehow managed to look fantastical and plausible all at the same time. Plus, they looked just plain cool. You wanted to drive them, fly them, or shoot them. They really did bring out the little kid in you.

In the wake of Herb Trimpe's passing, writer Ron Marz made comments on Twitter that should give all fans of the medium pause:

"Comics as a whole is not very good at taking care of its veteran creators, those upon whose shoulders we stand.
"Hopefully with Herb Trimpe's premature passing we can give some thought to taking better care of those who came before us."

Herb Trimpe will be missed.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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