In Memoriam: Herb Trimpe, co-creator of Captain Britain

Herb Trimpe at at the 2015 East Coast Comiccon . © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons

Herb Trimpe at at the 2015 East Coast Comiccon . © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons


Fans of legendary comics artist Herb Trimpe, the co-creator of Captain Britain and one of the first artists to draw Wolverine, have rushed to pay tribute to him.


The Incredible Hulk #110, cover by Herb Trimpe

The Incredible Hulk #110, cover by Herb Trimpe


Herb Trimpe, whose death was announced yesterday by his cousin Glen Basiley, is best known for his eight-year run on The Incredible Hulk for Marvel Comics, and his introduction in Hulk numbers 180 and 181, to the popular character, Wolverine, a character originally modelled by John Romita Snr. His seven-year run on the book from 1968 to 1975, often  co-plotting stories, saw him co-create characters such as Jim Wilson, Doc Samson and the Hulkbusters.

“I admire the versions by Kirby, Ditko, Sal Buscema and so on but Trimpe somehow totally ‘owned’ the character,” notes British comic artist and Trimpe fan Martin Hand.

“He was the Hulk artist,” agrees artist David Roach, who inked some of Herb’s covers for early Captain Britain collections. “No doubt about it.

He also worked on several titles featuring licensed characters, including Transformers, Godzilla and G.I. Joe, as well as the G.I. Joe spin-off, Special Missions.

Among less prominent titles drawn by Trimpe are The Defenders, War is Hell, Guardians of the Galaxy, Indiana Jones, Machine Man, and the Fantastic Four Unlimited, a quarterly publication that became Trimpe’s final work at Marvel.


Herb Trimpe

Herb Trimpe at 2D in 2013. Photo: Jeremy Briggs


In recent years Trimpe provided G.I. Joe covers for IDW publishing, recently drew a Savage Dragon strip for Image Comics, strips for David Lloy’d’s digital anthology Aces Weekly –  and continued to do extensive commission work both at home, and, as a guest at comic book conventions such as Malta Comic Con in 2012 and 2D in Northern Ireland in 2013.

“He was a terrific artist, responsible for the popularity of some of the most recognizable characters in comics,” noted Aces Weekly publisher David Lloyd in a Facebook tribute, adding “he was the nicest guy you could ever wish to meet; he flew and loved airplanes ( one type of which was the star of the strips he gave us) ; and, most importantly for Aces, he had the pioneering spirit that embraced and supported what we were trying to do. He’s in a Bugatti 100 up there in the clouds right now, I’m certain. We’re lucky he stayed on the ground for us for so long.”

“We feel lucky and honoured to have had the pleasure of hosting him in Malta as a guest to the Malta Comic Con 2012,” notes convention organiser Chris Le Galle. “He was an examplary guest, and one who loved meeting and talking to fans”Simply put, he was special. We have nothing but fond memories of Herb, ones we’ll cherish forever.”


Captain Britain Weekly Issue 8. Art by Herb Trimpe

Captain Britain Weekly Issue 8. Art by Herb Trimpe

While being the first artist to draw Wolverine in a regular comic has of course drawn the attention of US comic news sites such as in their tributes, here in the UK he’ll perhaps be better remembered by fans as the co-creator of Captain Britain with writer Chris Claremont and for his work at Marvel UK.

First published in 1976, Herb Trimpe worked on Marvel UK’s Captain Britain from the very first issue, along with Fred Kida, who died last year (an artist Comics Journal notes is perhaps best known for his work at US publisher Hillman on Charles Biro’s flying hero Airboy). It was Herb who brought the character, his origins steeped in Arthurian legend, to life and took him through his first adventures from Issue 1 of the weekly comic through to Issue 23.

Founded in October 1972, Marvel UK initially was a means to bring the publisher’s huge back catalogue to the British news stand in the form of weekly titles, beginning with The Mighty World of Marvel. The company’s small London-based staff worked on a line of weekly reprint books which also included Spider-Man Comics Weekly and co-starring Thor and Iron Man.


Captain Britain Art - Captain Britain Weekly Issue 5

Captain Britain Art by Herb Trimpe for Captain Britain Weekly Issue 5. Via ComicArtFans.


Although rival publisher IPC conceived plans for a Captain Britain character who never got beyond the planning stages, Marvel had no such qualms and launched Britain’s equivalent to Captain America in 1976 as part of a reorganisation of its line in response to declining sales. The first issue of Captain Britain Weekly,  cover dated 13th October 1976, ran to 32 pages and sold for 10p and included a full-page personal message from Marvel’s Stan Lee. His initial run was for 39 issues, before his title was absorbed into Super Spider-Man and The Titans  to form Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain.

Herb Trimpe sketching

Herb Trimpe sketching Captain Britain at 2D. Photo: Jeremy Briggs

“[Herb] got the Captain Britain gig because he was, at the time, living in a renovated lighthouse in Cornwall,” noted Borderline Press publisher Phill Hall in a Facebook comment, “which, at least sounds more feasible than Claremont getting the writing gig because he’d been born on a US Airbase in East Anglia so Stan [Lee] thought he was British enough. Herb was a lovely and very modest man.”

“I was lucky enough to work with Herb on a number of covers and Illustrations for Panini’s Captain Britain collections and it was a great joy and privilege,” notes David Roach. “Since the strips inside were from the 70s I jumped at the chance to ink Herb with the same warm brush strokes that inkers like Frank Giacoia and Joe Sinnott would have given his pencils back then. they remain some of my favourite commissions in comics.”

One other British comics-related project of note by Herb are his perhaps little-known strips for part works publisher Eaglemoss, after being approached by editor John Tomlinson.

“I was so sad to hear about Herb Trimpe,” John told DownTheTubes. “He drew the first Marvel comic I read (The Incredible Hulk #117) and I was lucky enough to work with him a few years ago on Eaglemoss’ Spidey mag.

“I contacted him via his site and was almost certain he’d say no, but to my great surprise he agreed and later drew several strips for us. Fan that I am, I managed to shoehorn a Jarella cameo and the original Captain Britain in there too.


Ant-Man drawn by Herb Trimpe, which featured in the Eaglemoss Spiderman title (Issue 54).

Ant-Man drawn by Herb Trimpe, which featured in the Eaglemoss Spider-Man title (Issue 54).


“To further immerse him in the Marveldom of old I wrote the scripts in what I imagined to be Marvel style: plot first, dialogue written later, to the finished artwork. Apparently I gave him way too much detail though ­ – back then, artists often had to fabricate an entire 22-page story out of a few lines of plot, or even a phonecall: ‘He fights the Leader this month!’

“As everyone has said, he was a delight to work with and a far more thoughtful, meticulous artist than often given credit for. Sad to say I never met him – but to work with such a comics colossus was the next best thing.”

“To me, no artist is as synonymous with the Incredible Hulk as Herb Trimpe, who gave the Jade Giant a sense of pathos and scale that set the bar for every artist that followed him,” said Axel Alonso, Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics. “Like a Hulk-punch, Trimpe’s art truly exploded off the page. Comics lost a giant.”

• The Incredible Herb Trimpe, will be published soon by Twomorrows. The early Captain Britain stories have all been collected, with covers by Herb Trimpe on Volume 2 and 3 by Herb Trimpe, inked by David Roach



Known Marvel UK Work by Herb Trimpe

Planet of the Apes UK Issue 98


Aside from his work on Captain Britain, Herb Trimpe’s known original credits for Marvel UK include a new cover for Planet of the Apes Issue 98, plus centrespreads in Spider-Man Issue 165 and 226.


A Herb Trimpe "Marvel Masterwork" pin-up, featured in Spider-Man Weekly Issue 134.

A Herb Trimpe “Marvel Masterwork” pin-up, featured in Spider-Man Weekly Issue 134.


Many of his US Hulk covers were re-used in the UK and some interior art from US editions was re-presented as “Marvel Masterworks”pin-ups, such as the one above from Spider-Man Issue 134.

There is discussion of his UK credits here on the Facebook Make Mine Marvel UK group

Web Links

Herb Trimpe: Wikipedia

Obituary by Lew Stringer

Comics Alliance Obituary by Patrick A. Reed

Comics Alliance: 75th Birthday Retrospective Tribute

Mike’s Amazing World of Comics: Herb Trimpe Database

Captain Britain Issue Listing at the Unofficial Marvel Handbook site

T’aint Meat: The History of Captain Britain Weekly

The Captain Britain Blog

Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, Features, Obituaries

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1 reply

  1. Outstanding tribute, John!

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