Comics Herstory: Trina Robbins
Trina Robbins is a comic creator and historian who was instrumental in bringing women into the underground comix scene. Throughout the 1950s, Robbins did illustration work for various science fiction magazines. In 1969, she designed Vampirella’s costume.
Robbins became increasingly involved in the underground comix scene. After working for the feminist newspaper It Ain’t Me, Babe, Robbins went on to establish the all-women comic one-shot, It Ain’t Me, Babe Comix. This is the first instance of a comic being published involving only women. The separation between men and women’s comics during this time was due to the sexism present in the comics being produced by male writers, and Robbins made a point to call out the sexist stories that were being published at the time.
Another outlet for women to create underground comix was the anthology Wimmen’s Comix, which aimed to promote female creators. Robbins was heavily involved in Wimmen’s Comix, and contributed to the first issue. Her comic “Sandy Comes Out” was the first comic to ever feature an out lesbian. She was involved with the anthology for twenty years.
Throughout the 1980s, Robbins worked for mainstream publications such as Playboy, National Lampoon, and Marvel. During this time she also began to document the history of women comic creators. She has published a number of books on the topic, including Women and the Comics, A Century of Women Cartoonists, From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines, The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley’s Cartoons from 1913–1940, and Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896–2013. Her nonfiction work has been nominated for several awards, including both Eisner and Harvey Awards.
In 2013, Robbins was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame. Robbins was only the fourth woman to be inducted, and her inclusion is rightful. Her work, while largely out of the mainstream, was instrumental in shaping the direction of feminist comics and making comics accessible and enjoyable for women. Her nonfiction work is important in preserving the oft-overlooked legacy of women in comics.