JH: What about the Hulk's appearance? Did you model him after anyone?
HT: No. Some people said that he looked like me. There seemed to be a bit of the Quasimoto in there, but no, the Hulk wasn't modeled after anyone in particular.
JH: It's funny that you said that. Back in 1970 when Rolling Stone interviewed you, the interviewer thought that you looked like the Hulk. But when I think the your Hulk, he seems like Quasimoto, a squat, thick being. Quite a contrast, Quasimoto and Herb Trimpe. I wonder how anyone could confuse the two...how tall are you Herb, for the record?
HT: First of all, the Hulk is better looking than I am, so there' no room for confusion as to appearances. In addition, I'm about 170 pounds, six feet two inches tall, and am probably not as big around as one of the Hulk's legs.
JH: Did you like working on stories in the Hulk where monsters abounded?
HT: Yes, that was great. They were easy to draw, and there weren't a lot of anatomical accuracies to be adhered to. You could make it up as you went along, and it worked.
HT: You didn't draw a lot of monsters like the ones Kirby did in his early work at Marvel.
HT: That was the writer's domain. They came up with the major concepts. I was not involved much with the creation of the new characters or new ideas. I didn't want to be. The concept of the Hulkbusters, however, was my idea.
JH: I think in its first appearance, there was a schematic diagram of the base...
HT: I did that. I also designed the unit emblem which was an "H" being shattered by a lightning bolt. You remember, "Thunderbolt" was General Ross' nickname.
JH: Herb, speaking of the Hulkbusters, almost in every issue when we look at the base from an aerial view, you can see the layout of the base: a peace symbol. Was that your joke?
HT: Yes, I used it purposefully as a design for the Hulkbuster base, but it really wasn't a joke. It was just meant as the ironic juxtaposition of a military base run by an aggressive, blustery general, and the military base design being a symbol of peace. It was like in the '60s and '70s when protesters stuck flowers down the barrels of National Guard rifles. It was a provocative gesture.
JH: I think we can say the Hulk was an American monster. He's not like Frankenstein or Jekyll and Hyde in Europe, he does not attack the villages. He fights the military industrial complex, and they fights back.
HT: He has a problem with authority.
JH: And I guess Authority in America in the 1960s and 1970s was the military.
HT: Right, and don't forget industry and the almighty buck. It was like today in that respect. Some things don't change.
JH: Most of the comics you've drawn involve the military: Hulk, Nick Fury, G.I. Joe...
HT: You see a connection? I was typecast to a degree. I didn't own an airplane at the time, but everybody knew that's what I was interested in. My interest in airplanes was somehow translated into an interest in the military. Later, I got my pilot's license and Linda and I bought an airplane, an open cockpit biplane. It was better than therapy, and in the long run, cheaper. I found out from an editor at a convention in New York last year, and I can't remember who it was, that the word had been out to tell Trimpe to stop drawing all those airplanes.
JH: What was your experience in the military? Didn't you serve in the Air Force? How long? Were you in Vietnam?
HT: I was in the USAF for four years, the standard enlistment time, from 1962 to 1966. I was a weatherman, and our unit was on loan, you might say, to the Army. We supplied aviation weather support to the First Air Cavalry Division based in the central highlands in Viet Nam. They used helicopters extensively to move troops around.
JH: You were great at drawing planes. There was that issue of the Hulk you drew that begins with the Hulk jumping through the wing of a jet. That was really great.
HT: I guess everybody puts some part of their own personality, some of their own interests into their work. My interest was airplanes. How much of my own experience went into the Hulk? I think I identified with the character. The Hulk was an underdog. Traditionally Americans have always given lip service to the cause of the underdog. In reality, we are not for the underdog. And if we were, there wouldn't be any oppressed minority groups in this country, and there wouldn't be so many poor people without proper medical care. The Hulk was an underdog and a social outcast, his strength notwithstanding. Because of the Bruce Banner/Hulk transformation, both beings, Banner and Hulk, suffer from a severe disability, a dehabilitating disease. It is almost like epilepsy. Banner suffers attacks that he seems to have no control over. But, he really does to some extent. Banner may not be able to change his biological tendency towards the transformation, but he can avoid the conditions under which the transformation takes place. There is a choice involved. It helped me to know as one who had suffered severe anxiety attacks from early youth that there was an element of control involved. Not totally, but enough where I could claim ownership and take command of that part of the thing. That, along with help from others, allowed for a fairly normal existence. That was another element of my relationship with the Hulk.
JH: You worked on the Hulk for a long time. Did you consciously use the character to talk about what was going on in the world during those times?
HT: No, I didn't make any political connections. Well, I lie. I guess the peace symbol was some sort of statement.
JH: More than any other comic, so many presidents have appeared in the Hulk. LBJ, Nixon and Spiro Agnew, Ford, and the list goes on.
HT: That's a good point. But it was more the writer's doing than it was mine. I did have a lawyer friend who was very high profile during the Watergate investigation appear in a story. But that was our little secret.
JH: Was there a big age difference between the writers and you?
HT: No, not really.
JH: Were your politics different from the writers?
HT: We never discussed it. For the most part, I have found comic book people to be a bit political. Most really didn't give a shit about politics. As for myself, I was never a conservative or right-wing voter. I do have certain conservative tendencies within a liberal framework.
JH: When you were doing the Hulk, did you have great faith in technology?
HT: In those days, yes, I would say I did. I used to have a very definite conservative belief in technology. If somebody had asked me, I would have said that technology had a very large role in determining our success as a race or not and in a very positive way. And now I don't think that, in fact, I have just the opposite view in terms of the true quality of human life. Most technology is like the emperor's new clothes.
I was brought up in the '40s and '50s. That was a different time. It was a time where the majority of people were hard working blue collar people. It was very unusual to have more than one car in a family. I learned to drive on my parent's car, and I only got to use it when they didn't need it. Every dad in my neighborhood was a shade-tree mechanic. They repaired their own cars. They had a vision in those days of a world filled with great, shining machines easier, a sense that technology would save us all. And regardless of the complaints you hear today about money, that great mass of middle American blue collar families simply didn't have the kind of money that most families have now. And they weren't as well educated. The blue collar working class, the shop worker, the factory worker, the laborer, they really don't exist as a class anymore.
But that class was a suspicious class. It was the era of McCarthyism and the "Red Scare". The blue collar class's children became more affluent as the economy began to swing from a manufacturing base to an information and services based economy. The corporations became the economic power centers. Political viewpoints changed, and in the '60s we had the rise of the white collar class. We developed a dogmatic faith in technology. But is the quality of life better? Are people happier in the age of the computer? I don't think so.
JH: What kind of audience did you have? Were they the kids of that generation?
HT: There weren't as many fans in the '60s. The fan market was just being realized. In many cases it was the parents doing the buying for their kids. It was more common for fans to spontaneously visit the office in those days. They didn't call for an appointment, they'd just show up at the receptionist's desk, and somebody would go out and talk to them. Sometimes we'd show them around. Most of the artists weren't fans. Not the way they are today. Many were professional illustrators who ended up working in comics. There was less ego then. There were exceptions, of course. The artist wasn't linked to the product, your life didn't hang in the balance depending on how the book sold. The artist was employed by the company as a freelancer, and if the sales on a particular title went in the can, usually another assignment came up. There was a very quick turnover in the product if a book didn't sell.
JH: Herb, you had the opportunity to draw a lot of villains for the Hulk. Were there some that were yours? Like Wendigo?
HT: I did that. That was my design.
HT: How about the Glob? Zzzax? The Harpy and the Bi-Beast? Were they also your design?
HT: My design, but the writer's concept.
JH: What was your role in Wolverine?
HT: I didn't do that. That was John Romita's design. I drew him first in Hulk #181. But it was Romita's vision based on Len Wein's idea. I did come up with a character called the Nightcrawler, but I had a philosophy. I would never give them anything. I avoided the full-blown creative stuff. Anything created in those days belonged to them. It belonged to Marvel. Everything you did was theirs. There wasn't much in the way of negotiation at that time. I drew comics as a way to make a living, to pay the bills. I was a company lackey. Career wise, it was costly. As far as being a creative force, I was outside the loop. But I'd made up my mind, I wasn't going to give them anything. It was my choice. Only my friends know what a f---ing creative genius I am [laughter].
JH: I wanted to ask you about some of your other characters I remember reading. Shogun Warriors, Godzilla, G.I. Joe.
HT: That was after the Hulk, right? I was trying to keep as much work in the house as possible--to stay busy. The freelancer's nightmare is running out of work. I was a believer in Jack Davis' philosophy as was reported by someone to me: never turn down work. I rarely turned down work. That's how I wound up doing three books at one point: Godzilla, Shogun Warriors, and Defenders. I couldn't turn the stuff down.
JH: Why did you pick up Shogun Warriors and Godzilla--was it out of any interest for Japan?
HT: No, no connection whatsoever. I was pretty much interested in keeping a job [laughs]. Basically that was it. The characters didn't belong to me. I didn't want to belong to them. Having said that, drawing comics was a very good job, and it was a lot of fun.
JH: Was there any character you wanted to do?
HT: I always wanted to do Superman. Superman, just one time.
JH: What about characters you may have wanted to do while you were working on the Hulk?
HT: No, there weren't any, really, either established or imagined. Like I say, I didn't have any brilliant ideas, nor did I want to. On occasion, I violated the aforementioned rule I made for myself, but fortunately, they never used any of the ideas. It's not that I didn't want to create, it's just that I felt there was no leverage, and it was not my focus to make it. Some guys made their own leverage. Guys like Barry Smith, Steranko, and Neal Adams came on like gangbusters. They called attention to themselves, like hey, here I am, the greatest thing in comics. They created an image. It wasn't my style.
Neal was instrumental in bringing comics to the point they are today. Neal, and the Academy of Comic Book Arts set the stage for returned art and royalties. The publishers were pressured very effectively. Even so, I had no sense of ownership in terms of the artwork. I drew the company's characters, they gave me the money, a done deal. I wasn't particularly interested in royalties. I changed in that respect, I don't feel that way any more. It's like baseball. The owners make a lot of money off the talents of the players. Why shouldn't the players get a big piece of the action?
JH: Were there any stories you really enjoyed telling?
HT: I liked the Jarella stories. I liked them a lot.
JH: Me too. Did you know Harlan Ellison?
HT: I met him once. I knew his stuff. He visited the bullpen a couple of times. One of my all-time favorite stories was his "Dogfight on Route 101". It was a precursor to road rage. Cars are armed with machine guns.
JH: Like Mad Max?
HT: Yeah. In "Dogfight", a middle aged couple becomes engaged in a highway duel. I loved that story.
JH: Do you know how Harlan got involved in the Hulk?
HT: No, I have no idea.
JH: One of the last issues of the Hulk you did included Jarella. Were you allowed to do it because she was one of the characters you first drew?
HT: I don't really remember. I think I was paid to do the cover.
JH: I'm sorry she died. She was a really good character.
HT: I know. But if she had never died, She-Hulk might never have happened. [Laughs]
JH: Was your impression of the writers you worked with?
HT: I got along very well with the writers I worked with. I decided, as I have mentioned before, that the best thing to do was just do the job and take the money. The problem was, I was perceived as someone who didn't make waves, and when I wanted to make a point, I'd have to go to extremes to get attention. I was easily forgotten. This was not good, especially in terms of career, but I had made the choice.
I have to admit, when I did blow my top, I really went off. It happened maybe twice, and it was during the last five years at Marvel. There was no one particular conflict when I wrote a letter to my editor, and the editor-in-chief. I used strong language, in fact, I'm a little embarrassed about it now. But, for about a year, they couldn't do enough for me. I didn't keep the pressure on, and gradually the effect wore off and things were back to the way they were. It's a respect thing, primarily. The bigger the company got, the less respect there was. I couldn't compete with the squeaky wheels. And as we all know, they're the one that get the oil.
JH: How did you work? As a freelance artist?
HT: I was a quota artist which was non-contractual, but received a salary. I got a regular two-week check, and anything I did over quota I could voucher for as freelance income. I also had the extras, the company benefits. It was like a regular job, but I worked at home. It was a good deal.
JH: You worked on quite a few books at one time. Were you then working over your quota?
HT: Yes. I would have my quota raised which would increase the two week check and cover the extra work I had taken on. (If was getting $50 a page, and I was getting $250 a week, that means I had to do five pages a week. And if I did extra pages, I'd put in a voucher in for the extra page, for the extra fifty bucks and that would be on the freelance basis.) The advantage was that payroll deductions would be up front. There were no deductions on freelance checks. By increasing the quota, there was less hassle at tax time.
JH: Was it fun working at Marvel?
HT: I'd say that for the first several years, working at Marvel was very good. It was like a family, very small, like a mom and pop business. Martin Goodman was the publisher, and the company was Magazine Management Services. I was in the process of going through a separation and divorce. All my money was going into alimony payments, and I got into debt. I talked to Stan about it, and he talked to Martin. Stan called me in his office not long after and handed me a check for $800 which was the amount I needed. No small amount in the '70s. I paid it back out of my salary, and I was never charged any interest. It was very patriarchal. Patriarchy is the kind of thing that's sneered at today, but I was appreciative. Martin flat out lent me the money. "Here's 800 bucks," you know? It was different then at Marvel [laughs].
It was family, but there's one point I'd like to make. Deadlines were no kidding around in those days. If a shipping date was missed, it cost the company lots of money. There weren't many things that could get you fired, but that was one of them. If you fouled up the printer's schedule you got nailed with late charges. Missing a shipping date was serious. Now, I understand it happens frequently. Marvel has pissed away a small fortune due to mismanagement. Every time they sent me a piece of paper this big [gestures with hands] they'd send it Federal Express. I suggested a couple of times, send me the stuff regular mail, or give me a call if that's all it takes. Fedex is sixteen bucks a pop, but they're the corporate big-time spenders.
LF: Marvel was only a part of the printer's schedule, so they needed the books on time to stay on schedule.
HT: That's right, Marvel wasn't the printer's only client. So, missing a shipping date was a no-no.
LF: Another thing, they tried real hard to keep everybody working. They gave everyone a little something, even a Millie the Model story.
HT: It wasn't all peaches and cream. We tend to remember the good stuff. Linda kept a diary of those days, and she can point out things that I have no recollection of. One good thing was that in those days you could talk to people on the phone. Not like today with the machines. You leave message after message, and they never call you back. They were entering the bunker phase. The place was in the process of meltdown. Barry Smith who lives nearby would get livid because he couldn't get a response. You wondered, why am I doing this? The frustration levels got very high. It got very user-unfriendly. They frankly didn't give a shit. Things were getting iffy, and they had so many people working for them and there was so many demands, that they basically shut-down. They retreated into the bunker. It was dehumanizing, but you have to keep it in perspective. Generally speaking , publishing was never what you would call humane. Comics, without a doubt, was probably one of the best parts of the publishing industry. And it got rotten, so what can I say? And Jon, take everything I say with a grain of salt. It's all from my perspective, and I'm looking back through a two year period that I would not describe as being a good time.
When the FF Unlimited, the last book I did, was canceled, they had been dropping people left and right because of poor sales. They were downsizing so the corporate schmucks could maintain their high percentage of the take. They became extremely unresponsive. Remember, I'm a salaried quota artist. My job depends on doing so many pages every week. I'm in trouble if there's nothing available. And there was nothing available. That was their story. So, they continued to put out the crap drawn by a number of people who were obviously of less than professional quality, and look where it got them.
When the shit hit the fan I nearly had my B.A. out of the way, so I let it slide. I said, I'm not going to do this anymore. This is a good time to bail out. The handwriting was on the wall, and I didn't want to wind up like some other guys in their 50's and 60's scrounging around for work. I heard a story about Steve Ditko, and I don't know how factual it is, but he came up to Marvel looking for work and his shoes were falling apart. If it never happened, the story certainly provides a good metaphor for the reality. Like any good myth, it describes the truth. It's what this business can do to people that it doesn't want anymore. There's a sad list of them.
So I took the hint. It was a God-sent opportunity to get out of the business, really. When I was finally terminated for failure to maintain quota, which I had always thought was their responsibility, I never even got a phone call. I never got so much as a call from my editor-in-chief. Almost thirty years with one company and it was Fedex that delivered the news. I never heard from them again except for the legal paper work. It was a tough time. Painful. I finished my B.A. and enrolled in a Master's program at SUNY, New Paltz. There's no hard feelings, I got what I wanted from them over the years, and they got what they wanted from me. End of story. I got to paint and did about two dozen oils for that first summer. I was setting up my easel in the local fields like Van Gogh. It was pretty cool.
JH: Herb, how did your drawing style at Marvel change over the years? It seems like when you first started drawing for Marvel with the Hulk in 1968, you tended to both pencil and ink the work, and later you did the pencils? Which way did you prefer?
HT: I started out being influenced by the E.C. style. That's the way I came to Marvel. Then it was the Kirby influence strongly suggested by Stan. Kirby's style was so seductive and beautiful in terms of the comic book genre, that it was hard to see comics in any other way. As far as the inking goes, I always felt that I was my best inker. There were exceptions.
When deadlines become tight, and the work load increases, inking your own stuff becomes less of an option. That's just the way things are. All things being equal, I would prefer to ink my own pencils.
JH: A fellow Hulkophile on the web once called your early Hulks the squint-eyed Hulks--because their eyes were drawn as thick black lines. It seems to me that from the time you first draw Hulk you used much thicker line work. Towards the end of the Hulk you moved towards a style which you employed in other Marvel mags--where the line work was much thinner. Can you comment on your style?
HT: In the early days, as I have mentioned before, I was influenced greatly by Kirby. I tried to develop my own style. It was hard to do because someone was always setting the trend. As each new "hot" creator came on the scene, there was a tendency on my part to fall into lockstep with that style. It was not a conscious effort on my part, it was simply a matter of survival. One of the things I regret about my career in comics is that I was never true to myself. I tried some new things in Savage Tales, but that was short lived. FF Unlimited was a rehash of the Liefeld/Lee stuff.
JH: What kinds of pens or brushes did you use? Did you use of them change with time? How did you draw 2-3 books at one time? How many pages could you do in a day? A week?
HT: Well, that's a change of pace. I was about to admit more than maybe was wise. I used a number 2 or 3 Windsor Newton brush, and a Hunt's 105 pen. Occasionally I would use an old school nib. I could, when I had a roll going, do two to three pages a day. That would work out to 10 to 15 pages a week. It was tight stuff, too. Originally I was strictly a brush man. But as time wore on, and the pen became predominant in inking, I fell into line. With exceptions, it takes less skill to use a pen.
JH: You worked with a slew of inkers. Which ones did you feel best complemented your pencils?
HT: As I have mentioned before, I liked me as an inker. It was a thrill, however, when John Severin inked my pencils. My overall favorite inker? I would say it was Jack Abel. He had a totally different style from Severin or me. I also liked Jack immensely as a person. Sometimes that makes all the difference in the world. Dan Greene on Godzilla was a real treat also. To date, I think Dan is one of the few skilled inkers in the field.
JH: Do you see yourself primarily as an illustrator? Painter?
HT: My wife Linda thinks I am a good painter. I thinker she's a good painter, so there you go. Like I said, only my friends know what a genius I am. Seriously, I try to see myself as a human being. Not perfect, but hopefully always seeking a higher purpose. I don't mean to bullshit or put anyone down, but I strive to define myself not by what I do, but how I relate to others. This is why I have always been outside the loop in terms of being considered seriously by my peers in this business. Again, there are always exceptions, but the path I chose was my own.
JH: I want to ask you to remember some exact time period you were working on the Hulk. Going through my archives of Greenskin comix, I ran across an interesting debate in the letters pages from 1974, "The Betty Talbot Cover-Up Conspiracy". When you drew the transformation of Betty into the Harpy, she was nude but cleverly covered up by effective shadow placing. I know the fans wanted to see her naked, maybe you wanted to see her naked, but did you have a problem with the Comics Code on these issues? I know, for example, Steranko had difficulties with nudity and the code when he drew Nick Fury.
HT: Ah, back to the real issues. No, there was no problem with the Comics Code. I couldn't draw a sexy babe if my life depended on it. As it turned out, maybe my life, my professional life in comics did depend on it! Those fans, God love 'em, always wanted the obvious. It was never my style.
JH: Since I plan to put this interview up on my Hulk internet webpage, I wonder if I can take you back--literally back--to the book for a moment. One thing I'd like to do is get some feedback on fanmail from that time. I think it would be fun to hear an artist or writer's response to criticism or praise made back then. Here's one letter I'd like to get your reaction to. I wonder if you can recall it?
from Green Skin's Grab Bag (Hulk #131, Oct. 1970)
Dear Stan, Roy, and Herb,
We have some information here that we thought you'd like to see concerning the Hulk. For the past 19 issues (380 pgs.) Herb Trimpe has illustrated (?) Hulk.
Here is a chart showing the Hulk's actions in battles in the last 19 issues---
|PICKING UP HUGE OBJECTS, MACHINERY, BUILDINGS, MOUNTAINS, etc.||THROWING HUGE OBJECTS||RIPPING UP SURFACES, GROUND, FLOORS, STREETS, etc.||PUNCHING HIS FOES, CLOSED FIST|
--So we obviously thought that this was the Hulk's style of fighting, but we decided to check back over all the past Hulks in Astonish 60-106 (570 pgs up to Trimpe's time) to see. Here are the results---
|PICKING UP HUGE OBJECTS, MACHINERY, BUILDINGS, MOUNTAINS, etc.||THROWING HUGE OBJECTS||RIPPING UP SURFACES, GROUND, FLOORS, STREETS, etc.||PUNCHING HIS FOES, CLOSED FIST|
You can see by comparing these two charts that Herb Trimpe has changed the Hulk's fighting style. All the Hulk, when drawn by Trimpe, can do now is pick up mountains, and castles and rip the street pavement up like it was a carpet. The Hulk has punched one person, the Sub-Mariner, in #118 in 19 issues! That's sickening!!!
So we asked ourselves, why this change in our opinion for the worse occurred. We've come up with the following conclusion: BECAUSE OF HERB TRIMPE'S LACK OF ABILITY AND IMAGINATION THE PUNCH SCENE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!!! THE RIDICULOUS IDEA OF LIFTING UP ENORMOUS STRUCTURES HAS BEEN OVERUSED!!!
As you can see from the charts, in 570 pages the Hulk only lifted huge objects 12 times. But, in only 380 pages, under Trimpe, he has done it 17 times. That my friends is an average of almost once an issue!! Oh, by the way, it's also impossible. We ran tests and discovered that if you try to pick up a castle at all you get is a handful of rubble, a castle being too heavy to support itself off its foundation!!!
Anyhow, to end this letters, we don't LIKE the change in the HULK. Each issue has the exact same fight scene as the previous one!! We are getting sick of this repetition!!! That in addition to terrible art, horrible stories, and what do you have? THE WORST MARVEL EVER MADE!!!
JH: That was an angry fan. It seems around that time there was an anti-Trimpe faction who didn't want you to continue work on the book? Do you remember letters like these? It makes me laugh reading it now--especially since I love those issues where Hulk picks up the castles and other enormous things--because I think that letter only makes an argument for your creativity as an artist.
HT: No, I don't remember this particular letter. They must have hidden it from me. Usually, I was very upset by negative fan mail because I had an inferiority complex. I always thought that I could never compete with Romita, or Buscema, or Colan, or the rest. I now find out that there is a small but very loyal and hard core fan element that loved that Hulk stuff. it is encouraging to know, at this point in time, that fans could get involved in this sort of "Hulk watching". It kept them off the streets. I agree with you, Jon, this letter supports my creativity as an artist. Anyone that needs to see punching, however, needs to see a shrink.
JH: Speaking of the castle-raiser issue, I remember one of the first comics I had was a Marvel Super Heroes reprint of the Hulk (in fact, they were the first staple of my collection as a kid) was that one issue. I've been curious about this aspect of your relationship with Marvel: were you given additional pay for the reprints of the series during that time? I know you did some original covers for the reprints, but was the heyday of the Hulk in the 1970s with the tv a good time for you? Were you able to profit from a time when Marvel cashed in on the Hulk?
HT: There was money paid for reprints, but it was very little. Did I profit when Marvel cashed in on the Hulk? In all fairness it was their character, but don't make me laugh.
JH: Here's another letter I dug up from an old Hulk. More than the previous letter, I thought it really captured the early 1970s. This writer is praising you like no other fan ever had.
(Greenskin's Grab Bag, Hulk Vol. 1, #129, July 1970)
Dear Stan, Roy and Herb,
HULK #125 was great and with Herb back after a one issue absence it was even better. In your Bullpen Bulletin a while back, it said that you've gotten many letters criticizing Herb's art. Well, I'm proud to say I like it. The reason these people don't like it is probably because Herb puts more accent on teeth -- yes, teeth -- and draw unruly locks of hair. This all adds up to a groovy realistic picture.
HT: That is an interesting letter. I don't remember getting many critical letters, but it looks like they kept me up to date when I did.
JH: One thing a lot of fans liked about your work was your facial expressions, such as that writer. Another element of your work well-respected by fans was your strength at drawing backgrounds and doing interesting atmospheres. It seems to me that this is more of the style used by EC comic artists, rather than Marvel artists. How do you feel about that assessment--teeth and all?
HT: My defenders, though their numbers may have been small compared to some of the other artists, were nevertheless adamant. Very loyal and fanatical. As far as the other analytical points you mention, I never gave it much thought at the time. It was only later when fans brought those things to my attention. Looking back, I think you may be right.
JH: If there was an anti-Trimpe faction of the fans during your tenure on the Hulk, it seems like they came around 180 degrees by early 1971. Stories like the Frankenstein tribute, the "Moby Dick" one with Klaatu the planet-eater (the run from HULK #130-#145), roused the fans to cheer your use of close-ups, wordless panels, and facial expressions. The letters from this time confirm my suspicion that you changed your style, or rather, you may have found your rhythm.
JH: Can you comment on the difference in your style from the early Hulks (#107-125 around 1968-1969) and the next year and half (#129-149, 1970-1971)? It seems like this was a time of great stylistic innovation at Marvel: your moody, atmospheric Hulks; Steranko's eye-popping pop-art; Neal Adams' photorealism; and the new wave of dynamism in Barry's Smith's Conan. What brought out a shift in your style?
HT: Mozart and Van Gogh had trouble getting the kind of recognition they wanted, so if one is not accepted on a grand popular scale from the beginning, it might not be a bad thing. I don't think my own popular success ever made any great leaps. Am I a Mozart or Van Gogh? Possibly, but not in comics, that's for sure. I only mention those two guys to illustrate the fact that popularity isn't everything. As I have said, my style change was largely motivated by money. I was never set in a particular style of drawing. I was always trying to find my drawing identity within the context of a commercial market. It is not a good compromise to become involved in.
HT: Perhaps fans most enjoyed your art when you worked with inkers like John or Marie Severin, both who had ties to EC Comics. Given your admiration for EC work, it seems like one could say your art was a synthesis of the EC and Marvel styles. Do you think that one style was more dominant in your art than the other? Did this change when you had to work faster on multiple books?
HT: I always used to like to say that I had no style as far as drawing comics was concerned. Looking back on some of that work now, I realize that isn't true. over recent years, fans have helped me to see that I had a very distinct style. When I looked at my work through their eyes, I could see it. But, it had to be explained to me. I may have mentioned before that I never liked my work very much in those days. I now have a new-found appreciation of it, and this is largely due to loyal fans, and my kids and wife. They always have told me that the old Hulk stuff was terrific. I am finally seeing that. Yes, it does have a redeeming value. In fact, it is down-right refreshing.
The amount of work I had did not affect the wy I drew or inked insofar as a conscious style was concerned. I did ten, at times, to get sloppy because of the speed required to finish a job. As I think I mentioned before, when I was pencilling Godzilla, Shogun Warriors, and The Defenders, that was some of the tightest and most comprehensive drawing I have done.
JH: A final question: you worked on the Hulk for eight years. How were you able to work on the same character for so long? Most artists in comics today barely work on one title for more than 12 months. Did the guy with the green skin and purple pants get monotonous after a while?
HT: Eventually I came to the point where it was time to move on. I enjoyed doing the Hulk for the most part during the period you mention. I don't think it ever became monotonous. It was more a matter of keeping my career varied, so I decided to give it up. It was one of the few, if not the only, decisions I made while working at Marvel. I think many of the people in comics today don't see it as a really fun job, but as a ticket to immortality. They've got stars in their eyes, and since several in recent years have become millionaires, they're constantly reaching for the gold ring. Well, there's a limited number of gold rings. This lesson had to be learned the hard way. Look at Marvel.
JH: Well, I hope this interview didn't get too monotonous. I want to thank you for all the time you've given to answer my questions, and particularly, I'd like to thank you for the great stories you drew over the years.
HT: It has been my pleasure, Jon.