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Herb Trimpe - Interview
By Michael Essington

Back in the early two thousands I found myself out of work and hunting for ways to make money. I was rummaging through the garage and came across a box of old comic books, one of the first books I came across was a tattered, old copy of the Incredible Hulk. I figured I would pop them on Ebay and generate a bit of money. Well as I started flipping through some of the books I came to realize how much I still loved some of these books and how some of these great artists from the early seventies books are much better than a lot of the artists today.

So, I looked up some of the artists and wrote them asking if they would autograph my books and in the case of Herb Trimpe asked if I could interview him for a site I was creating (Web Comics), he agreed. This was my first interview (done somewhere around 2003 to 2006), so I didn’t pursue certain questions has firmly as I should have (e.g. 911, ageism, and religion) but overall this came out pretty decent for my first shot.

On Monday April 13, 2015, our friend and one of our idols passed away, rest in peace Mr. Trimpe.

1. First off, I want to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Growing up You, Ross Andru & Gene Colan were my all-time favorite artists. So, it's an honor to be able to have you as Web Comic's first interview.
I'm happy to do it. Thanks for the opportunity.
2. I've read that you wanted to be a Comic Strip Artist, tell us more about that and how you got your start.
As a little kid, I was exposed to newspaper comics before I was to do comic books. They had a huge influence on me. Just after I separated from the USAF in 1966, Sol Brodosky hired me at Marvel to ink Westerns.
3. I've read many times while preparing for this - the EC comparisons. While being a big fan of the old EC comics, I always found your style fuller almost jumping off of the page, while some the EC illustrations were flatter. Why do you think the comparisons are there?
I don't. I never came up to the qualitative level of the artists at EC. Very few have. I, like you, was a, huge EC fan, although I rarely bought one. I usually read my friend's collection.
4. Most of the Artists who've made a name for themselves are remembered for one key book; Berni Wrightson is remembered for Swamp Thing, with you it seems to be your Incredible Hulk run. How do you feel about that legacy?
I'll take it, although in my case, a lot of people were involved in creating the character long before I became involved. We did work hard on the character development during the time I was on the book. Maybe that's the distinction.
5. In the 80's and 90's when Marvel seemed to be making the bulk of their money off of The Punisher & Wolverine it bothered me that you and Ross Andru weren't credited the way . . .. Say, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were. Did this ever think about this?
Never. No, not at all. The artists you mentioned were innovative creators - the best, especially Jack. I did the assignment and took the check. It never occurred to me to think of myself in the same league.
6. Initially your rendition of the Hulk wasn't approved. What was Stan Lee's take on this?
There was no approval system. I drew it the way I drew it, and that was that. Stan's main concern was in the story telling. That's the only input I got from Stan.
7 In the credits of one of your old books there is an Alex Trimpe credited. Who is this?
Alex is our son. He's an excellent artist and musician. On occasion he did layouts which I thought were very good. He was around 20 at the time, but had no interest in drawing comics; though he still reads one now and again.
8. How did your appearance on the X-Men 1.5 DVD come about?
I don't know anything about this.
9. Of the original "Marvel Bullpen" who were you favorites? Of those, do you keep in touch with any of them?
That's like asking a mother which one of her kids she loves best. There are some people I stay in touch with.
10. In regards to your own work who was your favorite Inker? And your favorite Colorist?
I didn't pay that much attention to either. I usually liked the ones best that I had actually met. John Severin was, somewhat of an idol, and Dan Green is a good friend. Jack Abel (1927-1996) was a dear dude and a good inker. Colorists? Who knows?
11. After your 1996 "falling-out" with Marvel have you been contacted to do any work for them?
Of course not. Why would they? You can't prove ageism, but it was there, I believe. In all fairness, they did not shut the door. I was free to seek freelance work from individual editors. Fat chance.
12. I've read that you now teach 7th Grade Art; As well as a Creative writing course at a community college. How did this come about?
I saw the handwriting on the wall before the bottom dropped out. I got two degrees, a BA and MA, and a Teaching Certificate. I taught two years in public school grades 7-12, and two years as a college adjunct.
13. Has your being a Deacon helped you keep the Marvel fall-out in perspective?
I was never bothered by Marvel fallout. I was deliriously happy to be out of there. I only wish I had the guts to do it sooner. Strangely, I'm not much of a religious person. I do believe that most of us lack in spiritual development. But that's all up to the individual.
14. I've read your accounts of being on the "front-line" of the tragedies of September 11, 2001. Now with almost 3 years gone by, how has this tragedy affected you?
I have friends from that time. They are among the most loved people I know. I hang out with them when I can, and we schmooze and eat and drink. There's an EMS unit in Queens I like to ride with.
15. Between the one-year tour of duty in Vietnam and the events of 9/11 - did any of these memories creep into your art?
No.
16. Have you had offers to come back from any of the other publishers? With your writing experience would you write and draw?
I think they don't ask unless there's something in it for them, and I have no desire to beg. Either way, I'm finished with it. Experience counts for nothing in this business.
17. Of all your work do you have any certain favorites? Particular run or issue?
Sometimes the Hulk was fun, and I liked toying around with a different style on FF Unlimited. It demonstrates how shallow comics can be.
18. I've read you got your pilot's license some time back, as well as owning an open-cockpit biplane. How did this come about, & are you still flying?
I have an active license, but haven't flown in 12 years. I like very much the PC flight simulators. We owned a 1941 PT-17 trainer for 14 years and it was a blast.
19. Do you still keep up with the industry?
Nope.
20. What became of the "gag-order" that Marvel wanted you to sign in 1996? Did you do it? Did your editorial break it?
Yes, but I never paid any attention to it. Since they went bankrupt, I figured it was defunct. If not, fuck it. It's a 'free country.' Or is it? It was either sign or no separation package. We had three kids in college.
21. Can we expect more writing from you in the future? Movie reviews editorials?
Not in the way you think. I've been writing short stories and books for young people for 8 years and am presently looking for a literary agent.
22. Thanks again for answering our questions. Hopefully, they weren't all questions you've answered a hundred times before.
Not at all. I very much enjoyed going over them. They brought back a lot of pleasant memories. Thanks.
About Michael Essington
Michael Essington is an American author and poet, most famous for his Mike Check column. Over the years Essington has done dozens of celebrity interviews, as well as hundreds of music reviews. The weekly Mike Check column, which appears on Strange Reaction, has also been printed in The Los Angeles Beat and the very popular Deep Red Magazine. Essington's column is read weekly by thousands of fans from Los Angeles to Denmark. Essington has been writing since his high school days. He is married to wife, Elizabeth, and has two children, daughter, Breana & son Lucas. And has a dog, Max, that Essington suspects may have a learning disability or a general lack of life goals.
 
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