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19VOLUME05

19. For Whom the Bell Trolls

Trina Robbins, Kickass Comic Chick Nicki Wright

Trina Roberts is a comics artist and writer and helped get the uber-influential all-female Wimmin’s Comix off the ground. In Wimmin’s Comix, her strip “Sandy Comes Out” was the first story about a lesbian in comics. It was like the first “It Gets Better” message.

I had heard of Wimmin’s Comix years ago, but didn’t pay it a ton of mind until listening to an interview with Trina Roberts. She discussed her work – particularly the first LBGT comic every published, “Sandy Comes Out.” Her previous roommate (let’s call her Sandy, and let’s say she comes out) helped her write this fantastic piece, and inspired women across the country.

Wimmin’s Comix (originally the vastly differently titled Wimmen’s Comix) was the first comic collective to be composed entirely by women. Terry Richards, a founder of the series, said, “We decided that we would produce an ongoing title of comics by women and that we would function as a collective…with a rotating editorship, with everyone contributing their energy to the paperwork and general supportiveness of the group.” Topics of sexism and abortion, taboo in the male-dominated comics, had a place to be drawn, and lesbianism, more of a turn-on or joke in other comics, had a place to be discussed. The first issue included the stories, A Neurotic Woman, A Teenage Abortion, All in a Day’s Work, and Can This Marriage Be Saved?, along with Robbins’s Sandy Comes Out. Clearly, nothing was off-limits.

The excitement was palpable. Two ladies who felt the women-power fire were Mary Wings and Roberta Gregory. Both are lesbian artists, and both were exceedingly pissed off that Trina (a straight woman) had the gall to write the first lesbian comic.

My assumption is their initial discussion on this matter went like this:

Wings: Have you read this?

Gregory: Yeah it’s pretty good but we really should have gotten off our tails to create something for and by lesbians first.

Wings: Agreed. Let’s get cracking.


We decided that we would produce an ongoing title of comics by women and that we would function as a collective…

Gregory: Definitely, and hey we should let Paul McCartney know that we’re inspired and that he’s a hippie.

Then they high-fived and Paul named his band after Mary.

While there may not be proof as to the actual conversation or if anyone let McCartney know he’s a hippie, Wings (the artist, not the band)  did go on to create the first comic book focused exclusively on lesbian themes, and  Gregory to create a smorgasboard of feminist characters, including Bitchy Bitch (which may be the single greatest character name ever).

And, for anyone thinking that women can’t get along with each other, Robbins, Wings and Gregory are all dear friends now, and discuss what a hippie Paul McCartney was.

Anyway, in Robbins’s interview, she noted that while it was tricky to be the one with the title “first,” she couldn’t just sit around waiting for someone else to create the art she wanted to see. So on top of being an epic influence to comics artists, her message is applicable to everyone: seize your inspiration.

(And McCartney was a hippie.)