The Incredible Herb Trimpe by Dewey Cassell and Aaron Sultan, published by Twomorrows, $34.95, UK prices vary
♦ When I was a young man collecting comics I have to say that Herb Trimpe was not the favourite artist of, well, anyone I knew.
Young and obsessed with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko we sadly spurned the people we considered to be also-rans. Frankly, we were idiots. One of the pleasures of – let’s say “maturing” – is that artists like Jack Sparling or Frank Springer, who we hated when we were children, we can now appreciate. People like Herb Trimpe and Marie Severin, who we thought of as the people who filled in when you couldn’t get Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, or Wally Wood, you can now see as great artists in their own right.
Many people complain about “decompressed storytelling” and the poor deal they get from the price of modern comics, but the least part of that is due to the fact that contemporary artists and writers seem to fail most obviously the storytelling part of the equation. The illustrations are fine – sometimes to the detriment of the story – but there’s not very much story there. Rereading Trimpe’s work alongside this volume demonstrates how much story they used to be in a comic, and Trimpe’s excellence at conveying that story economic leap and effectively.
This book traces Trimpe’s work from school to very near the time of his death, and contains contributions from Joe Sinnott, Sal Buscema, and Marie Severin amongst others. Alongside this is a very long interview with Trimpe about his work and life, along with an enormous amount of first-rate illustrative material including pencil art, convention sketches, original art, and cover reproductions. Most of the work is considerably better than I remembered, and I remembered it as pretty good. There are sad sections here, especially the one dealing with him leaving Marvel – so many talented artists like him and Marie Severin were pushed out when they could have handed on their experience to younger writers and artists. In his last years Herb was first happy teaching, and then happy on the convention circuit, where he got the credit and appreciation he deserved from generations of his fans. In addition, he got the opportunity to do work for other companies such as Dark Horse, IDW, Image Comics, with even a return to Marvel for a variant cover. His final work was for Fantagraphics in All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1. This 160-page hardcover volume is a nice tribute to Herb: a larger more detailed hardback with more art would be even better (I’m looking at you IDW – your artist’s edition seems to have sold out. How about a nice hardcover?). If you like Herb’s work, you can pick this up at a fairly hefty discount online. I’d recommend it, whether you’re nostalgic for the old days, we like to see what the fuss was all about this is a well-designed, clearly written tribute to a much-loved artist.
Special Treat: A few piece of Herb’s work and a short interview with Herb from the guys at WatchMojo!