Herb Trimpe, The Hulk, And Another Great Cover

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September 1973

It really was an excellent pairing of artist and character, when Herb Trimpe drew the Hulk. During his run as artist on Marvel Comics’ The Incredible Hulk, Trimpe was at the peak of his powers. It’s difficult to define that certain magic that comes from the perfect pairing of artist and character, but when it happens it’s awesome.

Jack Kirby and the Fantastic Four; John Buscema and the Silver Surfer; Neal Adams and Batman; John Byrne and the X-Men; are just a few of explosive combinations. (Yes, yes. Each artist produced brilliant art on other titles, but those are the best examples that come to my mind.) And, we can add Herb and Hulk to the list of great combos, because they certainly rocked together.

So, I return to the Trimpe/Hulk pairing once again (I first featured a great cover with that pairing in June, 2016). This month’s great cover, drawn and inked by Trimpe, is from issue number 167 (September, 1973) and it’s a doozy!

There’s the “Dutch Angle” applied to add drama and tension. There is speed involved in the crushing stomp the big baddie is trying to drop on our hero. I mean, look! Those are sparks jumping from Hulk’s right hand, aren’t they?

I’m not sure how impressive of a villain Modok normally is, being mainly a giant head, but, with the addition of that over-sized robot body, he looks pretty damn formidable. Obviously, the Hulk is struggling mightily with a bad guy who declares he isn’t afraid of our great, big, green hero. (But, I’m guessing the Hulk triumphs in the end.)

This is such a great, eye-catching cover. It gives Gil Kane a run for his money and his covers were consistently fabulous. There was just something about Herb Trimpe and the Hulk.

Incredible!

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

A great cover by Herb Trimpe

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Herb Trimpe provided the pencils and inks on this fantastic cover dated March, 1974. I may have never ranked Trimpe among my favorite comic book illustrators, but his run on The Incredible Hulk was outstanding. I think it is his best work. His very Jack Kirby influenced style fit so well with this series.

And I think he was really cookin’ on this cover.

To start with, the tension built by the sharp angle of the seriously challenged ship sets the tone for this cover. The angle gives this shot so much movement and action, it doesn’t feel static at all.

The sailors are in deep trouble and the big blue guy and the green behemoth couldn’t care less. They have a beef to settle. Their Roman knuckles battle may be burning our hero’s hand, but he will not let go. Cobalt Man is just going to have to kill the Hulk to loosen that epic grip.

A particularly dramatic touch is the sailor who has gone overboard and is being overwhelmed by the waves. He even has water getting into his gaping mouth. That was some pretty intense stuff for my ten year-old eyes.

This is the kind of tension and excitement that certain artists over there in the DC Comics world just couldn’t muster. cough cough Curt Swan cough cough!

OK, to be fair, DC had plenty of excellent artists working on their covers and stories. I will feature them in the future. It’s just that I’m a Marvel kind of guy and I think their comic books (covers and stories and characters) were just consistently more interesting and exciting to me.

Until Frank Miller.

Anyway, this cover caught my eye when I was a kid and still catches it today.

Packing Peanuts!

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Herb Trimpe

Years ago on my blog at dimland.com, I had done a comic book review series I modestly titled “Comic Books that have Changed My Life.” I had planned to revisit that series and expand on it for my blog here, so, with the passing of comic book artist Herb Trimpe, I figured this was as good a time as any to get started.

This was the third installment of my series, in which I mainly address the art of those important (to me) comic books. I’m a cartoonist who has been very influenced by comic book artists of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. The issue I will examine this time is The Incredible Hulk #168 (October 1973), which was part of Trimpe’s best work. His style may not have been my favorite, but his abilities were an excellent fit for his run in the Hulk series.

Hulk 168

This was back in the day when the page layout was still the basic six-panels a page with full gutters (that’s what the spaces between panels are called). Trimpe’s work in this issue has a soft feel thanks to Jack Abel’s inking. And one can certainly see the influence that Jack Kirby had on his work. That’s hardly unusual, because Kirby influenced just about every comic book artist.

As comic book stories go, I always seemed to prefer the first part of a multi-issue story. I think it’s because the set up for the initial defeat of our hero is more compelling. In this issue, Betty Ross Talbot is transformed by Modok into the Harpy in order to defeat the Hulk; which she, by the end of the issue, does just that. (He gets better in the next issue, don’t worry.)

Issue #168 contains three splash pages! (That’s what they call a full page panel) The first isn’t anything very special. It sets up what’s going on. The Hulk is trying to get into the hospital where an ailing Betty is being treated. Note the flowers in the foreground. They are placed in the scene to set up that the Hulk picks flowers for Betty. How sweet.

Hulk splash 1

The second splash page is the transformation scene of Betty into Harpy. It’s spectacular! Very dramatic. There’s a lot of Jack Kirby in that panel. The black dots are a classic Kirby element. Also, note the shadow of Harpy’s right arm. That’s a great touch. I’m not sure how many other artists would bother to draw in that shadow.

Hulk splash 2

Third is the final page. It was pretty common to do a splash page for the end of the first part of a multi-issue story. It’s meant to wow the reader with its dramatic effect and make sure they don’t miss the next part. Well, this one delivers. It looks as though our hero has had it. (Harpy was only able to get the better of the Hulk by playing the “I’m Betty” card, getting the big dummy to drop his guard.)

Hulk splash 3

There’s some other fun stuff in this issue. Especially, a very dated, but still funny (maybe because it’s so dated) argument between the Hulk’s friend, Jim Wilson, and Jim’s girlfriend, Talia.

I’m also quite fond of a panel depicting the Hulk jumping through the wall of the hospital. It’s very simple and straight forward. Blam!

Hulk through wall

On Monday April 13, 2015, Herb Trimpe died at age 75. The artist is gone, but the art remains.

Jim ‘Dr. Dim’ Fitzsimons