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Trina Robbins of Wonder Woman, Vampirella & Joni Mitchell, Dies At 85 Print-ready version

Comic book writer, artist, editor, publisher and historian Trina Robbins died today, after a long career in comics, history and music.

by Rich Johnston
April 10, 2024

Trina Robbins by Gage Skidmore at WonderCon 2023

Comic book writer, artist, editor, publisher and historian Trina Robbins suffered a stroke at the end of February this year and died earlier today at the age of 85. Her daughter Casey Robbins confirmed the sad news on Facebook, saying  "My mother, Trina Robbins, passed away this morning. We miss her so much already. I'm just putting up a few photos of her and her work." She is also survived by her partner and fellow comics artist, Steve Leialoha.

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. She write a series of Graphic Lit comics about Elizabeth Blackwell, Lily Renee, Heddy Lamar and Bessy Coleman. And in 2010 she was writing Honey West comics for Moonstone Books.

She was also a major feminist comics historian, and her books including The Flapper Queens, Women Cartoonists Of The Jazz Age, Gladys Parker: A Life In Comics, A Passion For Fashion, A Century of Women Cartoonists, The Great Women Superheroes, From Girls to Grrrlz, The Great Women Cartoonists, Pretty In Ink, Eternally Bad and last year's Dauntless Dames and the Pro Choice anthology published late last year, Won't Back Down featured on Bleeding Cool.

Her memoir, Last Girl Standing was published in 2017 by Fantagraphics. Repeatedly recognised for her work in comics and comics history, she was the focus of a Spotlight Panel at WonderCon last year.

Trina Robbins lived one hell of a life, in and out of comics. Our condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.

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Added to Library on April 12, 2024. (341)


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