Thursday, April 11, 2024

Trina Robbins 1938-2024

From Bleeding Cool.

Trina Robbins at WonderCon 2023, photo by Gage Skidmore 

Comic book writer, artist, editor, publisher and historian Trina Robbins suffered a stroke at the end of February this year and died early Wednesday at the age of 85. 

She is also survived by her daughter Casey Robbins and her partner and fellow comics artist, Steve Leialoha.

Known for works like Vampirella & Wonder Woman, and a feminist comics historian, Robbins had a versatile career from clothing design to creating pro-choice comics.

She leaves a significant legacy in comics, fashion, music, and women's rights activism.

Born in 1938, Robbins was an active member of sci-fi fandom in the fifties and sixties, with illustrations appearing in fanzines. 

She ran an East Village clothing boutique called Broccoli from 1966 and made clothes for Mama Cass, Donovan, David Crosby and more. 

Involved in the music scene, she was a friend of Jim Morrison and of The Byrds and was the first of the three Ladies of the Canyon immortalised in Joni Mitchell's song.
Trina wears her wampum beads
She fills her drawing book with line
Sewing lace on widows' weeds 
And filigree on leaf and vine
Vine and leaf are filigree 
And her coat's a secondhand one
Trimmed with antique luxury 
She is a lady of the canyon

Trina takes her paints and her threads
And she weaves a pattern all her own
But Trina Robbins was also creating comics while working at that clothes store, which included designing the infamous costume for Vampirella for Frank Frazetta for Vampirella #1 in 1969. 

In 1970, she started work in San Francisco at the feminist underground newspaper It Ain't Me, Babe, from which she span off the one-shot It Ain't Me, Babe Comix with Barbara Mendes, the first all-woman comic book. 

This led to Wimmen's Comix which ran for twenty years, as well as leading to Trina's Women for Kitchen Sink. 

Her first strip for Wimmen's Comix, Sandy Comes Out, was the first comic strip to feature a stated lesbian character.

The eighties saw her work for Marvel, drawing Misty for their children's imprint Star Comics, based on their Millie the Model and her niece Misty, as well as Barbie and The Little Mermaid

This saw her picked up by Eclipse Comics for the series California Girls in 1987, and drawing The Legend of Wonder Woman at DC Comics – the first woman to so at the publisher, which seems insane now. 

She would return to the character for Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story in the nineties.

She created a comic book imprint, Angry Isis Press which published Choices: A Pro-Choice Benefit Comic Anthology in 1990. 

Robbins was a co-founder of the feminist encouragement group Friends of Lulu, and in 2000, she launched and wrote the comic book series GoGirl! with superhero stories designed to appeal to young girls, first from Image Comics and then from Dark Horse. 

Her memoir, Last Girl Standing was published in 2017 by Fantagraphics.

Read also:

"Trina Robbins – RIP" in The Comics Journal


This cartoonist had the pleasure to chat with Trina last October at the San Francisco convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

You can hear snippets of her talk on this video.

Finally, a tribute by Keith Knight:

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