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. 

Comic book poll re: writers, artists

FantaCo connection

06-RAW-7My buddy Greg Burgas commented on a comic book poll that ranked writers and artists. I’m not participating because I haven’t really followed comics since 1994, when I sold the bulk of my collection. There are several names I do not even recognize. I still have books such as the Marvel Masterworks, the Moore/Bissette  Swamp Thing, a couple of Will Eisner titles, and the original Dark Knight.

The post got me reflecting on some of the people I’ve interacted with, though.

 David Mazzucchelli and Denny O’Neill made a store appearance at FantaCo in 1985 during their Daredevil run. There’s a photo I lent to someone to digitize; it shows them, Matt, a couple of other people, and me in the store.

I never dealt directly with Bernie Wrightson except in short phone calls, but FantaCo published some of his work.  When he died too young, I wrote about him here because he was so talented and a sweet guy in even those brief interactions.

In his Wikipedia page, [Greg] “Capullo’s first comic work was a publication called Gore Shriek, which was picked up and published by a comic book store in Albany, New York, called Fantaco EnterprisesGore Shriek was a horror comic book specifically labeled Not Intended for Children because of the violent and graphic nature of it.” FantaCo didn’t “pick it up,” but whatever. I knew Greg, though not well.

Barry Windsor-Smith appeared in FantaCo pubs, but my dealings with him were meager.

Frank Miller created the cover for FantaCo’s Daredevil Chronicles, edited by Mitch Cohn, and also did a centerspread and interview. When I was going to edit a Spider-Man Chronicles, Miller agreed to produce the cover. But he bailed at the last minute, causing me quite a lot of stress. 


Art Spiegelman used to come to FantaCo to personally deliver copies of Raw, the oversized and eclectic comics and graphics magazine he and his wife, Françoise Mouly, published in the 1980s. I remember hanging out with him during the 1988 San Diego Comic-Con; it’s probably recorded in my diary.

FantaCo was in discussion with Denis Kitchen about putting out a Kitchen Sink Enterprises Chronicles with a Will Eisner cover. I would have edited that issue; alas, it never happened. Except for asking him a question at a panel discussion during that ’88 Con, I never had any dealings with Eisner.

I bought a graphic novel from Jim Starlin at an Albany comics show in the 2010s. He autographed it, but he was very busy.

I told my Jack Kirby story here.

George Perez created the Avengers Chronicles cover for FantaCo, He was supposed to make the back cover for the Fantastic Four Chronicles but was problematically late.

John Byrne saved my bacon as an editor, not once but twice, as I noted here, re: Miller and Perez.

Wakanda Forever non-review


wakanda foreverI saw the movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever back in November. Yet I didn’t review it because, in some ways, I found it almost unreviewable.

It was challenging to separate the death of T’Challa from the passing of the first film’s star, Chadwick Boseman. Even before the film was released, ABC-TV was plugging the stars, writers, and director on a primetime special, saying they were trying to make sure they honored the late actor. It succeeded at that.

Think Christian ran a spoiler-laden but touching piece,  Mourning Chadwick, Mourning T’Challa, back in November, which you should read unless you haven’t seen the film. Back in 2020, the publication ran Chadwick Boseman’s Sacrifice.

Also, there was a pre-review by Joshua Adams, who made a point of NOT reading any analyses of the new film. He commented that “some of the reactions towards the support of the first film left a bad taste in my mouth.” Specifically, “all the people (across the political spectrum) who implied or asserted that Black Panther was only popular because of black identity politics.” While I had not thought about it before,  I got that feeling too.

The other factor is that I went to see Wakanda Forever at the neighborhood Madison Theater. The marquee did not reflect that the film was even playing there. As a result, I was the ONLY person in the theater. I’m not much for private screenings because I like getting the audience’s reactions.


The one part of the film I will comment on is the introduction of Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía). He’s not exactly the villain, as he’s trying to protect his homeland. The emperor of Talokan, a hidden undersea kingdom, offers to fight with the Wakandans against the folks threatening both of their cultures.

The Mayan ancestry backstory worked for me. It was compelling and as logical as a narrative about a secret group of underwater humans could be.

They are not the blue people that Bill Everett drew in the 1940s  and again in the 1970s. I’m a huge fan of that Sub-Mariner published by Marvel and its predecessor. As I’ve noted, the comic book universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe are destined to be different, and I’m all right by that.

I read a reprinted column that the late Greg Hatcher wrote about Batman, where he counted eight different iterations, and that was just between 1964 and 2005.

Back to the film, maybe it was the lack of an audience in the cinema, but I started to find the fight scenes, which were well-choreographed, not so interesting, except for the one-on-one near the end. still, it was well done, and I’m glad I saw it.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever received decent reviews, 84% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s done over $446 million at the domestic box office.

70: Mark Evanier and Laraine Newman

Connie Conehead

Mark Evanier by Gage Skidmore found in Wikipedia
Mark Evanier by Gage Skidmore, found in Wikipedia

I have been following the blog of Mark Evanier since 2004 or 2005. But he’s been producing News From ME since December 18, 2000. He was a kid who cared – OK, obsessed – about comic books, and has written comics or about comics and related business for most of his life.

Mark had the very good fortune to become an assistant to Jack Kirby, from whom he learned a tremendous amount, not just the creative aspect but the visionary nature of “the King.” Mark attended every San Diego Comic-Con from the beginning until COVID, and none since, except online. He has directed animated TV shows. As a result, he knows a large number of imaginative folks in the comic book industry and show business.

Evanier is a historian of the industry. He has worked on the reprinting of his all-time favorite comic strip, Pogo by Walt Kelly, and he was a Pogo fan even before he met and went out with Walt’s late daughter, Carolyn.

Mark has been a gambler in Las Vegas and a magician, pretty good at them apparently, though he’s soured on the former. He is also an expert on his favorite movie, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. His 30+ year practice of feeding stray cats ended in 2021.

In memory of

Mark always notes the deaths of creative people who you and I may have never heard of or had forgotten, obscure comic book artists, unsung animators, working actors, comedians of the past. He’s been involved with the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. “The award goes to someone whose body of work has not been properly rewarded in terms of credit and/or compensation.”

He posts a link almost daily of a notable segment of an old Ed Sullivan segment, an obscure music video, a comedy routine, film clips of Los Angeles or Las Vegas back in the day, or occasionally interviews he’s involved with. Guesting on Sid Krofft’s weekly Sunday afternoon video podcast on Instagram. Talking with film critic Leonard Maltin. Chatting with his best male friend, Sergio Aragonés, with whom he works on Groo the Wanderer.

Mark’s blog has regular segments. Dispatches From the Fortress of Semi-Solitude addresses how he’s been coping with the pandemic; fortunately, as a writer, he’s used to working alone. He’s a fan of Costco, where he can buy in bulk.

Personal history

Tales of My Childhood, Tales of My Father, and Tales of My Mother are obviously biographical. Mark notes: “I am of Jewish heritage but only on my father’s side. Because my mother was Catholic and both families frowned on two such people getting married, they basically raised me to be nothing in particular. This has worked out a lot better than folks who are devout to one faith or another would probably admit.”

He likes to post Hannukka videos during the season and find several ways to spell the holiday. His caring father hated his job but stayed to provide for the family. Most of the stories about his mother that I recall involved the last decade of her life when she could barely walk or see, as he helped provide for her care.

He writes occasionally that there are “Things I Don’t Have An Opinion About,” especially when people think he should. Conversely, he can be fascinated by the fluctuating price of, say, a certain package of Planters Salted Cashews on Amazon.

Here’s a quiz he completed in October 2021.

Live from New York


Laraine Newman at Comic Con 2011
Cartoon Voices II – Room 6A, Sunday 11:30-12:45 Comic Con 2011

Laraine Newman is best known for being one of the original members of the cast of Saturday Night Live (1975-1980), creating characters such as Connie Conehead and the Valley Girl Sherry. But long before that, in Los Angeles at the age of 19, she and “her older sister Tracy were founding members of the comedy troupe The Groundlings — which has become a launchpad for numerous SNL cast members.”

In her audio memoir, May You Live in Interesting Times – here’s one story – she says her career has been, “modest but steady and extremely fulfilling.” Much of her current employment has involved doing voice work, including Garfield segments voice-directed by her friend Mark Evanier, twenty minutes her senior. He reviewed her memoir quite favorably; he wanted MORE than the nine hours she provided. Check out a photo of the two of them together.

In fact, you couldn’t do much better keeping up with Laraine Newman than to search News from ME for her name. She shows up quite frequently. Also, check out these videos.

Movie review -Spider-Man: No Way Home


Is there a point in reviewing a film that has already grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, and in only 12 days? Who knows? Still, I need to discuss the movie Spider-Man: No Way Home.

It has to do with my great affection for Spider-Man, and even more for Peter Parker. I even edited an issue of a magazine about the web-slinger.

In the past few years, I had scurried to see all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I haven’t, to date, seen any of the ones in this current crop: Black Widow, Shang-Chi, or The Eternals, though I probably will eventually.

It’s not necessary to have seen all of the earlier Spider-Man films to appreciate the new one. Still, in 2020, I watched four I had not viewed before. I do think it enhanced my enjoyment, especially the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

For you non-comics fans, the broad idea of a multiverse is that there are a lot of Spider-Man stories that exist over nearly 60 years. Invariably internal inconsistencies arise. So some stories are about Spider-Man in OTHER universes. If you get that, you can appreciate No Way Home just fine.

Peter Parker is Spider-Man!

The secret of our Peter (Tom Holland) is out, as we learned at the very end of the previous film, Spider-Man: Far From Home. Daily Bugle blowhard J. Jonah Jamison (J.K. Simmons) accuses him of a heinous crime. This puts the people he cares about, girlfriend MJ (Zendaya), best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), in danger. Can Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) cast a spell to erase people knowing that Peter is Spidey? But wait, not everyone…

We end up with villains engaging with Spider-Man. But he’s not THEIR Peter Parker. They can be sent back to their own universes. But don’t they deserve a shot of redemption? If by chance you haven’t seen it, just about everything I could say further would be a spoiler. If you HAVE seen the movie, read how it was shaped by its casting.

I can report that I loved this movie. There’s a scene, reminiscent of a part of another film but with a different outcome that made me a little teary-eyed. (It’s the storyline from Amazing Spider-Man #121, the second issue of the comic I ever purchased.) By the end, the reset button has been hit for our friendly, neighborhood hero, and that is a good thing. And, maybe because it was the season, elements of It’s A Wonderful Life came to mind.

Does it have too much insider humor? A negative review notes: “There’s no attempt to hide that the film is pure fan service, a greatest-hits mashup of Spider-Man’s cinematic legacy.” If it’s a fan service project – and the writers are clearly fans -then it succeeded wildly. But I think the non-initiated can enjoy it too.

I saw No Way Home at Spectrum 8 in Albany, a Landmark Theatre, in the last week of 2021. That was before I realized, per an SNL cold open, that  Joe Biden blamed ‘Spider-Man’ for all of the nation’s problems.

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