RIP, Trina Robbins (1938-2024)

The Way We Wore

by Gage Skidmore

According to my diary, I met Trina Robbins, Steve Leialoha, and Scott Shaw! at the San Digo Comic Con on August 6, 1987. I didn’t write anything about the encounter except that it was “nice.”

But maybe I was a bit starstruck because I had enjoyed her work for so long, going back to Wimmen’s Comix from Last Gasp in the mid-1970s.

She also produced a four-page story called The Way We Wore for Gates of Eden, published by FantaCo in 1982 . In a previous life, she was a clothing designer.

While she did work for Marvel and DC, notably Wonder Woman, she was better known for working with “independent” publishers. Her body of work is vast.   

But it’s not just the breadth of her work. As Mark Evanier wrote: “Beautiful…talented…important…I don’t know which quality of Trina I should start with. I’ll start with important. Trina Robbins was one of those cartoonists who did things that mattered. No one did more to elevate the awareness of and the opportunities for females in the realm of cartooning and comic art. And along the way she did not neglect the males; did not neglect anyone or anything worthy of attention.”

As the Forbes article noted: “Her unapologetically feminist take on politics and pop culture stood out among peers like Robert Crumb and S. Clay Wilson, and the experience left her a lifelong critic of the ‘boys club’ misogyny she perceived in such work.”

Documenting women

A 2018 piece in Vulture called her “the Controversial Feminist Who Revolutionized Comic Books.”

She and Cat Yronwode created the legendary 1985 tome Women And The Comics, the “first attempt to document the careers of the hundreds of women who have created and worked in the field of comic strips, comic books and cartooning. The Women whose work is showcased in this book have been long overlooked or ignored by most other histories of comics.”

From the New York Times: “She also wrote more than a dozen prose books, including Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013 (2013) and Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists of the Jazz Age (2020). ‘Trina didn’t just support women,’ Shary Flenniken, who created the ‘Trots and Bonnie’ strip for National Lampoon, said in an interview, ‘she unearthed the history of all these women cartoonists who had never been talked about.'”

The most recent comics-related item I purchased was the crowdfunded Won’t Back Down. “Comics legend Trina Robbins is fighting the rogue Supreme Court with over 30 storytellers from all around the world to publish a pro-choice anthology. Proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood.”

I read a lot of the many comments about Trina on Facebook. Many shared the sentiment, “I thought she’d be here forever.


Among the most interesting was from Wendy Pini, co-creator of the comic book Elfquest. “Were Trina and I friends? That’s hard to say. Not once in all the years we knew each other did we really understand each other. We didn’t ‘get’ or even really like each others’ artwork and writing. We didn’t inspire each other…. I was not her kind of feminist or activist, not a ‘joiner’ in most of the causes she cherished. Our life experiences and world views were, for the most part, very different.


“That said, when it came to today’s politics and speaking out on LGBTQ+ rights, Trina and I were very much on the same page. Her activism thrilled me and I sent applause when I could. She would pop up in my political FB posts from time to time – I was always delighted to have her chime in. Her voice carried weight. With her vast energy and drive, she was willing to get down in the trenches and get up close and personal with pro-woman movers and shakers… Trina could do that. She was a mover and shaker herself and an inspiration to many.


“I’m so glad Trina knew that I thought she was adorable. I honestly have no idea what she thought of me… Though we weren’t close, I loved her and I loved running into her, through the years, at San Diego Cons. She represented something powerful: a pioneer and a survivor. Outspoken, controversial, at times even rude… I loved her for all of that. She was funny. Just knowing she was keeping on keeping on was a kind of comfort, something to count on.”


Condolences to Trina’s longtime partner Steve Leialoha and their family. 

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “RIP, Trina Robbins (1938-2024)”

  1. I first heard of her when she was going after Robert Crumb for his outrageous sexism. The picture of her in my mind is a whole lot younger.

    (“But it’s not just the breath of her work.” Great typo.)

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