April 22, 2015

Herb Trimpe '97, Legendary Comic Book Artist and College Alumnus Has Died

Herb Trimpe headshot

Trimpe Holding an Incredible Hulk Comic Book

Herb Trimpe ’97, the legendary comic book illustrator associated with Marvel Comics, who drew such  popular comics as “The Incredible Hulk” and the “Fantastic Four,” and was the first to draw the Wolverine for publication, passed away on Monday, April 13, his cousin, Glen Baisley, announced on Facebook.

Trimpe, who graduated from SUNY Empire State College in 1997, wrote an essay on “reinvention” for the college’s magazine in 2000, detailing how he remade his career after a retrenchment at Marvel Comics saw him laid off as a staff artist after nearly 30 years. A Vietnam-era vet who joined Marvel in 1967, Trimpe was 57 when downsized, and he had never used a computer graphics program. He wrote about the experience in the Education Life section of the New York Times as well.

As part of his reinvention, he returned to school to become certified to teach art in the public school system in New York state. After the article in Education Life was published, he joked, “Like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer attending their own funeral, I got to hear high praise and compliments without having to die first. Words such as ‘courageous’ and ‘heroic’ were used, much to my embarrassment … but in the words of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, ‘I did nothing – except get caught with my britches down.’”

So, in the spring of 1995, a little more than a year before he was let go from Marvel, he began to think of other options – and that fall he enrolled in the college’s location at New Paltz.

After high school, Trimpe attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, but, at the time, the school was not degree-granting. At the suggestion of a neighbor who recommended Empire State College, he called the New Paltz site, which was 25 minutes away from his home. He enrolled that fall and was assigned David Porter as a mentor. He was awarded a B.A. in art from the college in June 1997.

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