Captivating Cover: GI Joe #1

Earlier today, I heard that Herb Trimpe, the original Marvel GI Joe comic penciler, passed away. This entry is dedicated to him. His work on the Incredible Hulk, Shogun Warriors, GI Joe and other comics enthralled this young toy/comic book fan. Thank you for all the wonderful art and memories, Mr. Trimpe.

Issue #1

Is there a more iconic cover in all of the many GI Joe series since this first one? I don’t think so. No other cover image better represented what this new GI Joe was about better than the debut issue. Now my mind may be clouded by nostalgia, but I honestly don’t care. After all, this site is all about my personal take on GI Joe. That’s not to say Devil’s Due and IDW haven’t produced amazing Joe images as well, but the classic Marvel title is where it’s at. Plus, I’m a recovering Marvel zombie from way way back.

For me, as a comics reader since, well, before I could actually read, Marvel titles dominated my collection. Their house style in the 70s and 80s, from subject matter to advertising and of course art and story just resonated more with me than did DC Comics. I later threw off the blinders and discovered the great characters and titles of the Distinguished Competition as well as independent publishers. I didn’t know what I was missing! Anyway…

The cover pencils as well as the interiors were done by Herb Trimpe, whose name I recognized from several Hulk comics that a friend had given me back in the late 70s. As a tot, I was only mildly aware that different artists and writers came and went from titles, and was just happy to stare at some cool drawings. Ah, to be young and naive again.

This cover achieves exactly what a good comic cover should: it gets you to pick it up. Maybe it’s partly because I’ve seen this image so many times, but I think the composition is so efficiently laid out that the eye instantly “reads” the elements even at a glance. Back in the day, a glance might have been all a kid gave when facing what was then a towering spinner rack full of colorful comic titles. Hasbro must have liked it also, because a similar image was used on several toy packages as well.

Trimpe’s run on the first year of the GI Joe comic helped set the tone for the title, and he helped establish characters that still resonate with Joe comic fans today. And it all started with a cover.


  • All the Joe fans on facebook have nearly destroyed the internet with all their tributes to Herb

  • Wherever he is now, may da Schwartz be wit’ him.

  • A truly iconic cover. I noticed that the IDW continuation of the RAH comic recently did two homage covers to this – issue 201 was an update with the Rolling Thunder and issue 209 was a Cobra version using a MAGGOT.

    Be seeing you.

  • I met him a couple times at Albany comic con. Very nice man. Loved to talk about GIJoe and art.

  • Chad Leavenworth

    April 6th we lose James Best (Roscoe P. Coltrane) & then 7 days later my fellow New Yorker Mr. Trimpe.

    I’m starting to feel old when the great men that crafted the entertainment / inspiration of my youth start dropping.

    Rest in peace fellas!! & thank you both for all the great art!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.