Each comic book character has his architect, viewed as ‘the’ artist that left a mark on the superhero that lasts to this day. From Kirby on Captain America to Ditko on Spider-Man, Gene Colan on Daredevil, Cockrum on the modern X-Men, the list goes on. But when you’re talking about the Incredible Hulk, what artist is most responsible for shaping that character into what he is known as today? Who is THE definitive Hulk artist?
Is it once again Kirby or maybe a later artist to work on the title such as John Byrne, Todd McFarlane, Ron Garney, John Romita Junior or even current Hulk artist Ed McGuinness?
Nah, it’s the master Herb Trimpe.
An artist responsible for a staggering amount of work on the Incredible Hulk series spanning nearly thirty years, Trimpe brought out all of the rage, drama and power that we know the character for today. Reading a classic Hulk comic, it is just astonishing to note the amount of carnage and wanton destruction that spreads from page to page, all drawn up month to month by the same artist. It also puts into perspective what the current Hulk series is likely attempting to imitate or pay homage to.
While not heralded as much as some of his contemporaries, Trimpe’s art is every bit as powerful as Kirby, as emotive as John Buscema, and dynamic as Colan’s, making him one of the classic bullpenners who sculpted the Marvel Silver Age out of the pulp bedrock. Unusually, Trimpe also worked during the later Bronze period, adding that sinister edge of horror and danger to his pencils. Look closely and you’ll see a bit of the EC Comics flair in his work, perhaps the influence of Jack Davis.
More than anything else, reading these old comics I am stunned by how Trimpe makes the Hulk’s fits of rage so dynamic and new each month. Watching Banner lose control and become an insane monster tearing anything from trees to jeeps to whole bolders apart with his bare hands while screaming yet still making an impact on the reader despite the fact that I just saw him do the same thing for countless issues before is impressive to say the least!
For more info, I recommend this excellent interview (complete with links to the Rolling Stone Trimpe interview as well!)