Trina Robbins - Biography
Trina Robbins (born 1938) is an American comics artist and writer. She was an early and influential participant in the underground comix movement, and one of the few female artists in underground comix when she started. Both as a cartoonist and historian, Robbins has long been involved in creating outlets for and promoting female comics artists. With writer Forrest J. Ackerman, she was the artist co-creator of the character Vampirella.
Robbins became an active member of science fiction fandom in the 1950s, and her illustrations appeared in science fiction fanzines such as the Hugo-nominated Habakkuk.
Robbins' first comics were printed in the East Village Other; she also contributed to the spin-off underground comic Gothic Blimp Works.
In 1970 Robbins left New York for San Francisco, where she worked at the feminist underground newspaper It Ain't Me, Babe. That same year she established the first all-woman comic book, the one-shot It Ain't Me, Babe Comix. From this period on, Robbins became increasingly involved in creating outlets for and promoting female comics artists, through projects such as the comics anthology Wimmen's Comix, with which she was involved for twenty years. Wimmen's Comix #1 featured Robbins' "Sandy Comes Out," the first-ever comic strip featuring an "out" lesbian.
Robbins was becoming increasingly outspoken in her beliefs, for instance criticizing underground comix pioneer Robert Crumb for the perceived misogyny of many of his comics. She stated, "It's weird to me how willing people are to overlook the hideous darkness in Crumb's work.... What the hell is funny about rape and murder?" Robbins' lack of regard for R. Crumb reportedly played a part in her falling out with fellow Wimmen's Comix contributor Aline Kominsky (Crumb's girlfriend at the time, now his wife), who, along with fellow Wimmen's Comix contributor Diane Noomin, left the collective in 1975 to form their own all-female anthology, Twisted Sisters.
Robbins was artist co-creator of the Warren Publishing character Vampirella, designing her costume and hair for writer Forrest J. Ackerman's story "Vampirella of Draculona" in Vampirella #1 (Sept. 1969).
In the early 1980s Robbins created adaptations of Sax Rohmer's Dope and Tanith Lee's The Silver Metal Lover. In the mid-1980s she wrote and drew Misty for the Marvel Comics children's imprint Star Comics. The short-lived series was a reinterpretation of the long-standing character Millie the Model, now as an older character running her own modeling agency and minding her niece Misty.
Robbins' official involvement with Wonder Woman, a character she had long admired, began in 1986. At the conclusion of the first volume of the series (in conjunction with the landmark series Crisis on Infinite Earths), DC Comics published a four-issue limited series titled The Legend of Wonder Woman, written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Robbins. The series paid homage to the character's Golden Age roots. In the mid-1990s, Robbins criticized artist Mike Deodato's "bad girl art" portrayal of Wonder Woman, calling Deodato's version of the character a "barely clothed hypersexual pinup." In the late 1990s, Robbins collaborated with Colleen Doran on the DC Comics graphic novel Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story, on the subject of spousal abuse.
Recently, Robbins has been writing the comic book adventures of Honey West, notable as being one of popular fiction's first female private detective.
Writing and activism
In addition to her comics work, Robbins is an author of nonfiction books, including several with an emphasis on the history of women in cartooning.
Her first book, co-written with Catherine Yronwode, was Women and the Comics, on the history of female comic-strip and comic-book creators. As one of the first book on this subject, its publication was covered in the mainstream press in addition to the fan press. Subsequent Robbins volumes on the history of women in the comics industry include A Century of Women Cartoonists (Kitchen Sink, 1993), The Great Women Superheroes (Kitchen Sink, 1997), From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines (Chronicle, 1999), and The Great Women Cartoonists (Watson-Guptill, 2001)
Robbins was a co-founder of Friends of Lulu, a nonprofit formed in 1994 to promote readership of comic books by women and the participation of women in the comic book industry.
Robbins lives in San Francisco with her partner, cartoonist Steve Leialoha.
Awards and recognition
Robbins is the first of the three "Ladies of the Canyon" in Joni Mitchell's classic song from the album of the same name.
Robbins was a Special Guest of the 1977 San Diego Comic-Con, when she was presented with an Inkpot Award. She won a Special Achievement Award from the San Diego Comic Con in 1989 for her work on Strip AIDS U.S.A., a benefit book that she co-edited with Bill Sienkiewicz and Robert Triptow.
She was the 1992 Guest of Honor of WisCon, the Wisconsin Science Fiction Convention, often called the world's leading feminist-oriented science fiction convention and conference.
In 1997, Robbins was a "Lulu of the Year" winner for her book The Great Women Superheroes.
In 2002, Robbins was given the Special John Buscema Haxtur Award, a recognition for comics published in Spain.
Robbins was a special guest of the 2006 Sac-Anime convention.
In 2011, Robbins' artwork was exhibited as part of the Koffler Gallery show Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women.
- As writer/artist, unless otherwise noted
- East Village Other (late 1960s) — contributor
- Gothic Blimp Works (East Village Other, 1969) — contributor
- It Ain't Me, Babe Comix (Last Gasp, 1970) — co-founder, contributor
- Swift Comics (Bantam Books, 1971) — contributor
- Wimmen's Comix (Last Gasp, Renegade Press, Rip Off Press, 1972–1992) — co-founder, contributor
- Comix Book (Marvel Comics, Kitchen Sink, 1974–1976) — contributor
- Tits & Clits Comix #3 (Nanny Goat Productions, 1977) — contributor
- Dope (Eclipse Comics, 1981–1983) — adaptation of the Sax Rohmer novel
- Gates of Eden (FantaCo, 1982) — contributor
- The Silver Metal Lover (Crown Books, 1985) — adaptation of the Tanith Lee novel
- Good Girls (Wonderful Publishing Company, 1985) — contributor
- Misty (Star Comics, 1985–1986)
- Gay Comix #6, #11, #25 (Bob Ross, 1985, 1986, 1998)
- Wonder Woman (DC Comics, 1986) — writer
- Strip AIDS U.S.A.: A Collection of Cartoon Art to Benefit People With AIDS (Last Gasp, 1988) — editor (with Bill Sienkiewicz & Robert Triptow)
- War News (Jim Mitchell, 1991) — contributor to underground newspaper launched to protest the first Gulf War.
- Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story (DC Comics, 1998) — writer; drawn by Colleen Doran
- Alien Apocalypse 2006 (Frog Ltd., 2000) — contributor
- GoGirl (Image Comics, 2000–2001) — writer
- 9-11: September 11, 2001 (Artists Respond) (Dark Horse Comics/Chaos! Comics/Image Comics, 2002) — writer/contributor
- The Phantom Chronicles (Moonstone Books, 2007) — writer/contributor
- Girl Comics (Marvel Comics, 2010) — contributor
- Honey West (Moonstone Books, 2010–present) — writer
- Women and the Comics by Catherine Yronwode and Trina Robbins (Eclipse, 1983) ISBN 0-913035-01-7
- A Century of Women Cartoonists (Kitchen Sink, 1993) ISBN 0-87816-206-2
- The Great Women Superheroes (Kitchen Sink, 1997) ISBN 0-87816-482-0
- From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines (Chronicle, 1999) ISBN 0-8118-2199-4
- The Great Women Cartoonists (Watson-Guptill, 2001) ISBN 0-8230-2170-X
- Nell Brinkley and the New Woman in the Early 20th Century (McFarland & Co., 2001) ISBN 0-7864-1151-1
- Eternally Bad: Goddesses with Attitude (Conari Press, 2001) ISBN 1-57324-550-X
- Tender Murderers: Women Who Kill (Conari Press, 2003) ISBN 1-57324-821-5
- Wild Irish Roses: Tales of Brigits, Kathleens, and Warrior Queens (Conari Press, 2004) ISBN 1-57324952-1
- "Girls on Top?," chapter 6 of Dez Skinn's Comix: The Underground Revolution (Collins & Brown/Thunder's Mouth, 2004) ISBN 184340186X
- The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons from 1913-1940 (Fantagraphics Books, 2009) ISBN 978-1560979708 — introduction
- Forbidden City: The Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs (Hampton Press, 2009) ISBN 978-1572739475