Trina Robbins (born Trina Perlson, 1938) 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.
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).
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, along with fellow female artist Barbara "Willy" Mendes, 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 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?"
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. 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." 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
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. 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). Her most recent work, Pretty In Ink, published by Fantagraphics, 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, 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.
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. In the late 1960s she ran an East Village clothing boutique called "Broccoli" and made clothes for Mama Cass, Donovan, David Crosby and others. She has written a memoir entitled Last Girl Standing, scheduled for release in 2017 from Fantagraphics. Her partner is artist Steve Leialoha.
Awards and recognition
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.
In 2002, Robbins was given the Special John Buscema Haxtur Award, a recognition for comics published in Spain.
In 2011, Robbins' artwork was exhibited as part of the Koffler Gallery show Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women.
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.
In a 2015 poll, Robbins was ranked #25 among the best female comics creators of all-time.
In 2017, Robbins was chosen for the Wizard World Hall of Legends.
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.