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Trina Robbins

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Trina Robbins
Trina Robbins 2010.jpg
Trina Robbins at a 2010 Underground Comix art exhibit in San Francisco, California
BornTrina Perlson
(1938-08-17) August 17, 1938 (age 84)
Brooklyn, New York[1]
Area(s)Cartoonist, Writer, Artist, Editor
Notable works
Wimmen's Comix
Women and the Comics

Trina Robbins (born Trina Perlson; August 17, 1938[2] in Brooklyn, New York) is an American cartoonist. She was an early and influential participant in the underground comix movement, and one of the first few female artists in that movement. Both as a cartoonist and historian, Robbins has long been involved in creating outlets for and promoting female comics artists. In the 1980s, Robbins became the first woman to draw Wonder Woman comics. She is a member of the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.


Early work[edit]

Robbins was an active member of science fiction fandom in the 1950s and 1960s. Her illustrations appeared in science fiction fanzines like 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 1969, Robbins designed the costume for the Warren Publishing character Vampirella for artist Frank Frazetta in Vampirella #1 (Sept. 1969).[3]

She left New York for San Francisco in 1970, where she worked at the feminist underground newspaper It Ain't Me, Babe. That same year, she and fellow female artist Barbara "Willy" Mendes, co-produced the first all-woman comic book, the one-shot It Ain't Me, Babe Comix.[4][5][6] 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.[7][8]

Robbins became increasingly outspoken in her beliefs, criticizing underground comix artist Robert Crumb for the perceived misogyny of many of his comics. She said, "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?"[9]

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 an adult 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 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. Robbins was the first woman to draw Wonder Woman comics.[10] The series paid homage to the character's Golden Age roots. She also appeared as herself in Wonder Woman Annual 2 (1989). 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."[11] 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.

Robbins has been writing the comic book adventures of Honey West, notable as being one of popular fiction's first female private detectives.

Writing and activism[edit]

In addition to her comics work, Robbins is an author of nonfiction books on the history of women in cartooning.

Her first book, co-written with Catherine Yronwode, was Women and the Comics, a history of female comic-strip and comic-book creators. As one of the first books ever published on this subject, it was covered in the mainstream press, in addition to the fan press.[12][13][14] Subsequent Robbins volumes on 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). More recent work includes Pretty In Ink, published by Fantagraphics in 2013, which covers the history of North American women in comics from Rose O'Neill's 1896 strip The Old Subscriber Calls to present.

Robbins was a co-founder of Friends of Lulu,[15] a nonprofit formed in 1994 to promote readership of comic books by women and the participation of women in the comic book industry.

Robbins is featured in the feminist history film She's Beautiful When She's Angry.[16][17]

Personal life[edit]

Robbins was intimately involved in the 1960s rock scene, where she was close friends with Jim Morrison and The Byrds. She is the first of the three "Ladies of the Canyon" in Joni Mitchell's classic song from the album of the same name.[18] In the late 1960s she ran an East Village clothing boutique called "Broccoli" and made clothes for Mama Cass, Donovan, David Crosby and others.[19] She wrote a memoir entitled Last Girl Standing, released in 2017 from Fantagraphics. Her partner is artist Steve Leialoha.[20]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Robbins was a Special Guest of the 1977 San Diego Comic-Con,[21] 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.[22]

In 2002, Robbins was given the Special John Buscema Haxtur Award, a recognition for comics published in Spain.[23]

In 2011, Robbins' artwork was exhibited as part of the Koffler Gallery show Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women.[24]

In July 2013, during the San Diego Comic-Con, Robbins was one of six inductees into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. The award was presented by Mad magazine cartoonist and Groo the Wanderer creator Sergio Aragonés. The other inductees were Lee Falk, Al Jaffee, Mort Meskin, Joe Sinnott, and Spain Rodriguez.[25]

In a 2015 poll, Robbins was ranked #25 among the best female comics creators of all-time.[26]

In 2017, Robbins was chosen for the Wizard World Hall of Legends.[27]

In consideration of her contributions to the comic art form and her work as a historian, Comics Alliance listed Robbins as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition.[28]

Robbins' art and art from her extensive collection of the work of classic women cartoonists was featured in the 2020 Society of Illustrators exhibit Women in Comics: Looking Forward, Looking Back. It was later featured in the Women in Comics exhibit at the Palazzo Merulana in Rome, Italy.[29]



[As writer/artist, unless otherwise noted]


  • 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 1-57324-952-1
  • "Girls on Top?", chapter 6 of Dez Skinn's Comix: The Underground Revolution (Collins & Brown/Thunder's Mouth, 2004) ISBN 1-84340-186-X[33]
  • The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons from 1913–1940 (Fantagraphics Books, 2009) ISBN 978-1-56097-970-8—introduction
  • Forbidden City: The Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs (Hampton Press, 2009) ISBN 978-1-57273-947-5
  • Lily Renée, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer (Graphic Universe, 2011) ISBN 978-0761381143
  • Pretty In Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896–2013 (Fantagraphics Books, 2013) ISBN 978-1-60699-669-0
  • Babes in Arms: Women in Comics During the Second World War (Hermes Press, 2017) ISBN 978-1-61345-095-6
  • Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists of the Jazz Age (Fantagraphics Books, 2020) ISBN 978-1-68396-323-3


  1. ^ Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Gale, 2005: "Robbins, Trina 1938–".
  2. ^ Riesman, Abraham (18 April 2018). "The Story of Trina Robbins, the Controversial Feminist Who Revolutionized Comic Books". Vulture.
  3. ^ Arndt, Richard J. (September 22, 2008). "The Warren Magazines". Archived from the original on July 10, 2011.
  4. ^ Krensky, p. 74.
  5. ^ Kaplan, p. 79.
  6. ^ Hix, Lisa. "Women Who Conquered the Comics World". Collectors Weekly. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
  7. ^ Kaplan, Arie. Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed!. (Chicago Review Press, 2006) ISBN 1-55652-633-4, p.86.
  8. ^ Bernstein, Robin (July 31, 1994). "Where Women Rule: The World of Lesbian Cartoons". The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review 1 (3): 20.
  9. ^ Sabin, Roger (1996). "Going underground". Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels: A History Of Comic Art. London, United Kingdom: Phaidon Press. pp. 92. ISBN 0-7148-3008-9.
  10. ^ Ultra Nerdy (2014-11-05). "Q & A with Trina Robbins – first woman to draw Wonder Woman comics (with video) | Vancouver Sun". Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  11. ^ Trina Robbins, The Great Women Superheroes (Kitchen Sink Press, 1996) ISBN 0-87816-481-2, p. 166.
  12. ^ "Women in the Comics: Assertive and Independent Women Make a Comeback" Miami Herald (newspaper), December 1, 1988.
  13. ^ "Comic Books Are For Adults Too" by William Singleton, Scripps Howard News Service, Chronicle-Telegram (newspaper), January 7, 1988.
  14. ^ "Funny How Things Change" Daily Herald (newspaper), December 28, 1988.
  15. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (May 18, 2000). "Fatal femmes: Why do women in comics become Women in Refrigerators?". Dallas Observer.
  16. ^ "The Women".
  17. ^ "The Film — She's Beautiful When She's Angry". Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  18. ^ Weller, p. 293
  19. ^ "Fresh Photos – Part Eight". Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  20. ^ "An Interview with Steve Leialoha". 2014-08-29. Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  21. ^ Comic Con Souvenir Book #40. San Diego Comic-Com International. 2009. p. 60.
  22. ^ "Past WisCons," WisCon website. Accessed September 19, 2011.
  23. ^ "Premios Haxtur" [Haxtur Awards] (in Spanish). Click link for 2002. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  24. ^ "Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women | Koffler Centre of the Arts". Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  25. ^ "Eisner Awards Current Info" Archived 2014-03-06 at the Wayback Machine. Comic-Con International: San Diego. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  26. ^ 03.21.2015 (2015-03-21). "Top 50 Female Comic Book Writers and Artists Master List". Retrieved 2017-06-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ BWW News Desk. "Trina Robbins, First Woman to Draw Wonder Woman, Selected for Wizard World Hall of Legends". Retrieved 2017-06-09.
  28. ^ "12 Women in Comics Who Deserve Lifetime Achievement Recognition". Archived from the original on 2016-06-30. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  29. ^ "Women in Comics".
  30. ^ "GCD :: Issue :: Moonchild Comics #3".
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Hinkle, Hinckle, Little Star (Part II)", SF Weekly (14 February 1996).
  33. ^ Robbins, Trina (Feb/Mar 2005). "Memo From Dez Skinn's Ghost Writer". The Comics Journal 1 (266): 8. ISSN 0194-7869.


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