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Trina Robbins, comics creator and historian, has died at age 85

Robbins' impact on the comic book industry is immeasurable

Trina Robbins
Image credit: Trina Robbins

Trina Robbins, one of the most influential figures in American comic book history, has passed at age 85. Predominantly known in later years as a comic book historian whose work included 1993’s A Century of Women Cartoonists, 1999’s From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines, and 2020’s Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists of the Jazz Age, Robbins was also a cartoonist, editor, and publisher, responsible for groundbreaking underground anthologies such as Wimmen’s Comix, It Ain’t Me, Babe Comix, and Choices: A Pro-Choice Benefit Comic Anthology for the National Organization of Women.

That’s not to say that Robbins only worked outside the so-called mainstream of American comics; she also worked for Marvel and DC at various points in her career, including illustrating the 1980s miniseries The Legend of Wonder Woman celebrating the original incarnation of the iconic character. (She’d return to DC’s leading lady a decade later as the writer of 1998’s Wonder Woman: The Once & Future Story, which tackles the topic of domestic abuse.)

Beyond all of this, Robbins remained active in fandom. Her first publications were illustrations for fanzines in the 1950s, and continued to appear on convention panels throughout her life, as outspoken (and occasionally argumentative) as ever.

Robbins was an unstoppable presence in the comic book industry, and upon the comic book medium as a whole — upon popular culture, in fact. As if all of the above wasn’t enough to prove that, Robbins shows up in Joni Mitchell’s 1970 song Ladies of the Canyon, for example; she also used to make clothes for Mama Cass and David Crosby when she ran a clothes store in the East Village of New York City in the late 1960s. She also designed the iconic costume for comic book character Vampirella. Just think about the amazing life she led, to have all of this be true…!

Robbins is survived by her longterm partner, Steve Leialoha. Her loss will be felt for a long time, and her absence felt forever.