I was so very sorry to hear that one of Marvel’s most important artists, Herb Trimpe, passed away this week. I didn’t know Herb well, but our paths crossed with some regularity back in the 1980's. We shared mutual friends, attended some of the same gatherings and parties, and he always struck me as a down-to-earth, sincere and genuinely good person.
Herb, as many of you know, drew what may be the definitive version of the Hulk, illustrating classic stories by Stan Lee and Len Wein, among others. I was lucky enough to work with him, early in my career, during my run on Marvel Team-Up. My stories were a little wobbly at that stage of the game (maybe more-than-a-little) but Herb always took my plots and turned them into honest-to-God comic books—exploding with energy, drawn impeccably and told with crystal clarity.
A few years ago, my wife and I were out to dinner at a local restaurant and I noticed an original Trimpe drawing of the Hulk on the wall. A few minutes later—the timing couldn't have been better—a couple got up from a nearby table: Herb and his wife, Patricia. (It turned out her brother owned the restaurant.) I hadn’t seen Herb in years, wasn’t even sure he remembered me, but I went over and said hello. We had a nice talk, catching up a little, then said our goodbyes. I saw him at a convention or two after that, but we never really had the opportunity to sit down for a lengthy chat. And now we never will.
Update: Ron Marz has written a heartfelt, and insightful, tribute to Herb that is well worth your time. You can read it here.