Trina Robbins notebook

American illustrator and writer Trina Robbins, who has died aged 85, began her comics career in her native New York in the 1960s as a contributor to the counterculture newspaper East Village Other. She also drew and wrote strips for Gothic Blimp Works, an underground comic.

Then came comic strips, covers and illustrations for the underground publications Berkeley Tribe and It Ain’t Me, Babe, often described as the first feminist newspaper, before she put together an all-female comic, It Ain ‘t Me, Babe Comix (1970), followed by the anthology All Girl Thrills (1971) and the solo comic book Girl Fight Comics (1972).

Her black heroine, Fox, was serialized in Good Times (1971) and another of her characters, Panthea, who first appeared in Gothic Blimp Works (1969), was a regular in Comix Book (1974-76 ).

She was also one of the ten founders of Wimmen’s Comix, an all-female underground comic anthology published from 1972 to 1992, and in the late 70s she was a contributor to High Times, Heavy Metal, National Lampoon and Playboy.

She later adapted the 1919 novel Dope, by Sax Rohmer, for Eclipse Comics (1981-83) and wrote and drew Meet Misty (1985-86) for Marvel. She was also the first woman to draw Wonder Woman, in The Legend of Wonder Woman (1986).

Robbins’ wider interest in the history of girls’ comics led her to co-author a book on the genre, Women and the Comics (1986), with Catherine Yronwode, and later A Century of Women Cartoonists (1993), and several After that. biographies of female comedy pioneers, including Nell Brinkley, Lily Renée, Gladys Parker and Tarpé Mills.

Born in Brooklyn, she grew up in Queens, where her mother, Bessie (nee Roseman), was a teacher. Her father, Max Perlson, was an editor who later wrote for Jewish newspapers and published a collection of stories, A Minyen Yidn (1938), which Trina turned into a comic bestseller in 2017.

At the age of 10 she graduated from reading wholesome animal comics to Millie the Model, Patsy Walker and other leading people. Katy Keene’s humor was particularly influential, as it inspired Robbins to make paper dolls and design clothes for them. She was also a big fan of Sheena’s jungle adventures.

After discovering science fiction at 14, Robbins began attending conventions, and at one such gathering she met short story writer Harlan Ellison. At the age of 21 he was five years her senior, but they dated briefly and later he signed into her film The Oscar (1966) as Trina Yale, played by Edie Adams.

Trina attended Queen’s College before studying drawing at Cooper Union, although she dropped out after a year. In 1957 she married the cartoonist Art Castillo; they moved to the Bay area in Los Angeles until he left for Mexico and the relationship ended.

Working for a while as a model for men’s magazines, she was a cinema usherette when she met Paul Robbins, whom she married in 1962 after Castillo’s death. Her new husband wrote for the LA Free Press, which gave her access to the Byrds, Bob Dylan and other musicians, and she began making clothes to sell to musician friends, including Mama Cass.

Returning alone to New York in 1966 (she and Robbins eventually divorced in 1972), she opened a shop called Broccoli on East 4th Street, making clothes for exotic customers and flinging some of them, with including the singer of the Doors Jim Morrison. and activist Abbie Hoffman; She also had a longer relationship with Paul Williams, editor of Crawdaddy magazine, and cartoonist Kim Deitch, with whom she founded a cartoon art museum on East 9th Street.

Her clothes inspired a song by Joni Mitchell, who wrote in Ladies of the Canyon “Trina wears her wampum beads / She fills her drawing book with line / Sewing lace on widow’s weeds / And filigree on leaf and vine” .

After she sold her shop in 1969 and began her life in comics, there was no looking back.

Apart from her writing and production activities over the years, in 1994

she was one of the founders of Friends of Lulu, a US-based charity that promotes female comic book reading and female participation in the comic book industry.

Her later work on the history of women in comics produced three more books, From Girls to Grrrlz (1996), The Great Women Cartoonists (2001) and Pretty in Ink (2013).

She has also written several children’s books, beginning with Catswalk: The Growing of Girl (1990), and including the Chicagoland Detective Agency (2010-14) series of high school mystery adventures.

For adults she wrote The Great Women Superheroes (1996), Eternally Bad: Goddesses With Attitude (2001), Tender Murderers: Women Who Kill (2003) and Wild Irish Roses: Tales of Brigits, Kathleens and Warrior Queens (2004).

His latest comedy was Won’t Back Down (2024), an anthology for choice.

She is survived by her partner, Steve Leialoha, a daughter, Casey, from her relationship with Dietch, and her sister, Harriet.

• Trina Robbins, writer and illustrator, born 17 August 1938; he died 10 April 2024

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