Comic Book Heroes!
Meet five artists extraordinaire who have been crafting your favorite characters for years
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Veteran comic book artist Herb Trimpe is perhaps best known as the definitive artist of the Incredible Hulk. “The character changed over the years, but we set a pattern that fans at the time — now they’re in their 40s — really related to,” the artist says. But during his long career at Marvel Comics, Trimpe also put his magic touch on many other iconic pop-culture figures, including G.I. Joe, Godzilla, and the Shogun Warriors. In addition, he was the first artist to draw Wolverine, the breakout star of X-Men. Comic book illustration “was the best job that any human being could possibly have,” he says.
Hudson Valley home: Hurley
Starting out: I always loved comics. At 10 years old, I came up with a comic strip about a baseball player.
Early influences/mentors? Jack Davis was my absolute favorite artist. But Jack Kirby, in my opinion, he’s the king.
The first thing you remember drawing? In third grade, airplanes in class. Having dogfights with other kids in class by passing the drawing back and forth and each person adding something to it. It was kind of a living comic book.
Proudest accomplishment: Doing the Hulk as a regular feature for eight years, that was probably the high; it was the most enjoyable.
Character you still love to draw? The most popular request over the years has been the Hulk, but I think Wolverine has outstripped him in recent years.
Most difficult to draw? The thing I should be able to draw best I have the toughest time with — people.
Strangest request: I was offered by Playboy to draw Little Annie Fanny [a racy comic strip featured in Playboy for 25 years]. All I could think of was, “Why me?”
Clash of the titans: Two of Trimpe’s signature characters — the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine — first meet in this 1974 issue
Fanatical fans: I’ve gotten letters that have said that such-and-such a book saved my life, or got me through school. I’ve even gotten requests for illustrations from soldiers stationed in the Green Zone in Baghdad.
Current/upcoming projects? Mostly commission work. I have a backup of about five jobs: a full ink figure Transformer, World War II airplanes, the Hulk facing off Godzilla while standing on his nose. Mostly they range a couple hundred bucks, but some are big.
As-yet unfulfilled ambition: I have none in comics. The last few years, I’ve been working on young-adult novels. I’ve written a dozen or 15 short stories, portions of which are available on my Web site. I also recently landed representation by a literary agent out of Toronto for a 1930s-era New York City detective novel.
Free time: For 15 years I had a biplane I used to fly all around the Valley, but I sold it.
On helping out at Ground Zero after 9/11: I’m an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church, so I volunteered for the on-site ward. I was involved in the ritual return of remains from the site. It was an amazing experience.
On the Web: www.herbtrimpe.com
(For our exclusive list of Valley shops where you can find all your favorite artists' works, visit our Spidey's Web feature.)
Up next: Joe Sinnott