Michael Fitzgerald Troy: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Trina. In addition to having a more than four-decade career in comics, you have a long history with Wonder Woman that I suspect started before the first time you worked on her professionally. Can you tell us a little about when you first discovered Wonder Woman and what she meant and means to you?
Trina Robbins: I can't remember at what age I started reading Wonder Woman, maybe at about 9 or 10? Seems like I have ALWAYS read Wonder Woman! It was through the comic that I learned about Amazons -- how cool is that, an island of beautiful, strong women, and no men allowed? That concept was very empowering for little kid me. And, of course, Diana, an Amazon princess, could not have been more empowering! The message was that with the right training, ALL girls could be strong and independent!
MFT: I was very surprised to learn that the Legend of Wonder Woman mini-series you drew was the first time a woman had drawn a Wonder Woman comic book, considering that in 1986 the character had been around for over 40 years. Congratulations on that honor! Can you tell us how you became involved in the project?
TR: Well, Wonder Woman had just been killed off during the Crisis on Infinite Earths (Is that what it was called?), and George Perez was gonna design a new one, but they needed someone to fill in the gaps between the old and the new, so I've always felt they had a meeting and said, "What the hell, let's give it to Trina. How bad can it be?"
MFT: Your style beautifully suited the series and seemed a perfect complement to the early WW work of H.G. Peter. Was any of that an intentional homage?
TR: The style in which I drew the series was definitely an homage to H. G. Peter.
MFT: What was your experience like working on that series and with relatively unknown writer at the time Kurt Busiek?
TR: To be honest, I wish I had written it myself, but at the time I didn't feel competent enough to handle the writing. But, I did have a hand in the plotting, so that made it a bit better.
MFT: Obviously you are an important part of the history of women cartoonists in underground and mainstream comics. Not only have you been a creator, but a chronicler of the impact of female cartoonists over the years and an outspoken voice for the portrayal of women in comics. Why do you think there are so few female comic creators and fewer proponents of equality in comics?
TR: But, today there are more women creating comics than ever before; they just don't (most of them) draw mainstream comics. Look for them in graphic novels -- they are talented! I think because of all the women drawing comics nowadays, we are seeing better comic art than ever before, and real story -- no more grimacing, over-muscled guys beating each other up.
MFT: On one hand, it seems like it's getting better for women in comics as we see more and more female creators. more and more female-driven comics, and more female interest in the genre. On the other hand, with female cosplayers being sexually harassed, male artists being called out for putting female characters in "porn poses." and the prevalence of a still somewhat frosty reception of female fans. it makes one wonder if it's two steps forward, one step back. What's your take on the situation?
TR: If it's two steps forward and one step back, that's still one step forward, and that's better than no steps. Comics have improved enormously, and if we're all too aware of trolls and haters, that's a) because of the internet and b) because women finally have a voice and they speak up.
MFT: Not to call you out, but I had read that you weren't a fan of Mike Deodato, Jr.'s version of Wonder Woman during the dreaded "bad girl" era, calling it a "barely clothed, hyper-sexualized pin up." Then, I discovered you were the one who designed Vampirella for Frank Frazetta, who is seemingly the poster child for barely clothed, hyper-sexualized pinups. Mind you it's beautifully designed, but I have to ask - is it different for vampires?
TR: Hahaha! The costume I originally designed for Vampi was sexy, but not bordering on obscene, as the costume has unfortunately become. I will not sign a contemporary Vampirella comic. I explain, that is not the costume I designed.
MFT: You have also said that, "(Wonder Woman) unfortunately is a slave to whoever writes and draws her." I think that holds true for any character that is being handled by someone different than their own creator. Do you feel that a higher responsibly comes with writing Wonder Woman given the ideals she stands for and the fact that she was specifically created as a sorely needed positive role model for females?
TR: I think all comic writers have a responsibility to their characters, to understand and respect them. Not all comic writers understand that, though.
MFT: You have the distinct honor of writing the final arc in the fantastic Sensation Comics digital-first series for DC Comics. At the time of this writing, only the first chapter is out, but, I have to say, you have really nailed the essence of Diana and Wonder Woman in such a concise way. Other writers have admitted the difficulty of writing the character, quite famously Joss Whedon being unable to nail the character down for a script for a feature film. Why do you think WW is such a tough nut to crack?
TR: Thanks for the compliment! Personally, I don't think Wonder Woman IS a "tough nut to crack," and I would LOVE to write a complete story arc!
Well, any more Trina Robbins-created Wonder Woman is always welcome in my book! Be sure to check out her fantastic Wonder Woman/Cheetah story in the final arc of Sensation Comics and be back here next week for another Wonder Woman Wednesday!