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April 07, 2009


Pat Curley

Trimpe may have needed to go back to the drawing board on those covers, but he was always one of my favorite interior artists, when he was allowed to ink his own pencils.

After 9-11 Trimpe volunteered as a chaplain (he was deacon of his Connecticut Episcopal church) at Ground Zero and blessed the remains as they were found in addition to counseling the workers.

Chris Tolworthy

There was one great advantage to those covers though. I read all those in the British reprints, where one story would be stretched over two weeks. This allowed a fill-in artist to create every second cover, with no discernible difference in quality. :) But in his defense, there's something iconic about that style. You couldn't mistake a Hulk cover, and I guess that's what mattered.

Wes C

Trimpe's never been my cup of tea. But, as I've said before I admire his professionalism in getting a product to the stands on time.

I think the cover to #170 is probably the worst one here. It took me several seconds to get a good grasp of just what the heck was going on. The Hulk's word balloon obscuring the rest of that creatures tail was setting up a weird optical illusion thing for me.

Pat: Thanks for mentioning the Chaplain bit, I'd forgotten about that. My wife is a Chaplain, so I can only imagine the pain and anger he had to work through to be able to properly fulfill his role as minister and counselor during that gut wrenching time.
I guess I admire him more as a person than as an artist.

It's weird sometimes when you hear about a creator in the "real" world, for me these artist and writers often take on as much of a legendary status as the characters they chronicle.

BTW: Maybe the Venus Probe was "comically unthreatening" to you, but that thing gave me nightmares as a child! It must be the age difference.

David Morefield

The cover to #160 is particularly bad. You have to wonder why all those people bothered to gather on an observation platform to see a waterfall that's only ten feet high.


I'm not sure I see the point in publicly dissing a retired artist's old work.

Wes C

Do you see the point in publicly lauding a retired artist's old work?

Mark Engblom


First of all, there's really no "point" to any of the stuff I blog about. It's just stuff that's on my mind that I take time to write about.

Second, of all the features I've developed on Comic Coverage, the Worst Cover Ever is probably the closest you'll see to "edgy" on this site...and, admittedly, the one feature that most often gives me pause in doing.

I've been posting the feature less and less frequently primarily because of that discomfort, despite being careful to never make it a personal thing against the artist rather than his or her work. Published work, by its nature, is subject to critique, and I like to occasionally look at the NOT so good stuff along with the really good stuff (which you can find in my "Simply the Best" feature). As a working artist, I'm well aware that even the best of us can turn out some bad stuff from time to time, and comic book artists certainly aren't exempt from that.

But, I'm glad you gave me a chance to clarify. I have nothing against Herb Trimpe as a person, and his amazing contribution following 911 makes me admire him as a person all the more, but his artwork often wasn't my thing...which I pointed out pretty tactfully. You'll also note that I made a point of stating Trimpe DID create some great covers...so I think that balanced things about a bit, don't you think?

Of course, to some, any constructive criticism is seen as a personal attack, and I guess there's nothing I can do about those perceptions...other than to point them to my "Simply the Best" posts for the glowing praise they prefer.

However, perhaps it's best that I abandon the Worst Cover Ever feature. Maybe it's not worth the trouble or the concern on my part...especially when there's so much more POSITIVE stuff to write about when it comes to comic book collecting.

Readers? What do you think?

Pat Curley

As long as you maintain a balance I would prefer that you go on with the Worst Cover Ever feature. You did that with this post, pointing out three excellent covers to contrast with the three less-than-stellar covers. And the more I look at those three the more I have to agree that they should have been sent back for revision.

Trimpe, maybe, gets more pushback than most because of his work after 9-11. I didn't intend my bit about his chaplain work to be pushback myself (my first paragraph did that). I am something of an expert on the events of 9-11 (long story short I have a blog that debunks the conspiracy theories of Rosie O'Donnell and Charlie Sheen), and I was not sure how widely publicized Trimpe's work at Ground Zero is among comics fans.

The other thing is that you're being honest in your criticisms. I remember one time starting to write a post about this Silver Age Wonder Woman story that I'd picked at random, about a battle between Mer-Man and Steve Trevor and a third guy named Amoeba Man. It started out horribly, but about midway through there were some very funny gags and then there was a terrific bit of characterization and some interesting sequential art, and before I knew it I had to rewrite the lede.

Chris Tolworthy

What do readers think? This reader thinks that since you're a professional artist, then your opinion on what makes a good cover is very useful. "Worst ever" is clearly just hyperbole. So keep up the good work! But if you do ever cancel "worst comic ever," maybe you could maybe replace it with a new feature, "worst feedback ever" :)

Wes C

I agree with Pat and Chris.

Mark, you never come across as especially mean or offensive, even with all your Kirby bashing (I kid, I kid!). You usually take a fairly balanced stance when discussing a particular artist's work. With Trimpe you gave three examples of good covers as well as ones that were less than stellar. Looking back you took care to address Al Milgrom's position as the "go to guy" for tight deadlines (an incredibly valuable asset) in the same article that you critiqued some of his (IMHO) rather lousy covers.

As Chris pointed out, your opinion as a professional artist is an informed one and I find value in your critiques.

As an artist/designer myself, I know that almost as much can be learned from looking at bad work as can from looking at excellent work. We can't always look at Toth and Rude, sometimes it's good to see somebody drop the ball, just so we can make sure to not make the same mistakes.

Please don't stop posting this feature, it is by far my favorite of your features. I wouldn't enjoy it so much if it was a totally mean spirited attack at an artist, but it's not so no worries, right?

Just my opinion though.

I DO think you crossed the line with insulting the Venus Probe though... are there no sacred cows anymore?


There's a difference between "dissing" and criticism. Explaining why a given cover fails is constructive.

Morgan Edge

Blog away, if the critic doesn't like it he doesn't have to read.

It is amazing how busy the covers are. When in doubt stick four or five people in the background.

Al Bigley




Please do keep up with this feature. As an acolyte of the dread god of bad movies, Jabootu (www.jabootu.net), I know there's much to learn from analyzing failure, especially when the writer knows what he's talking about!

Paul Huyter

I don't usually comment, but when it comes to Herb Trimpe (I asked Stan Lee himself how to correctly pronounce the man's name at the 'Emerald City Comicon' and you got it right... rhymes with 'Shrimpie'! I had been rhyming it with 'pimp' all my life... oops!), I have to say that he is my all-time favourite HULK artist! Mr. Trimpe's art always lent itself well to characters that were BIG, BOLD AND POWERFUL and there are none moreso than the Hulk. You may not have liked it, but to so many other people Herb Trimpe's Hulk is THE Hulk of choice! I hope somewhere along the line Marvel will reprint ALL of his amazing run on 'The Incredible Hulk'. His worst stuff is better than most artists' best stuff! Incredible artist, incredible man. 'Nuff said.

Kirk G

I've just read Herb Trimpe's first hand account of the services that a Chaplin was required to perform at the ground zero site.
Amazing human reporting, and worthy of reading, re-reading, and perhaps someday, some illustrative pictures and publishing as a separate 9-11 commemorative.

I remember Herb's work on the Hulk, circa issues #101-150 before I droppd out of comics. I remember his return of the Leader, and the Sandman, the Glop, the Golem and lots of other stories. But there is a point where you tire of that drawing style.

Nothing can compare to Jack Kirby, in my book, unless it's John Byrne. But to each his own.

I was fortunate enough to sit in a con pannel room and hear some comments by Herb and I give him a lot of credit for taking the stands that he did, providing the service that he did, and doing his best to make the books he drew as interesting and CONSISTANT as he did.

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