A week ago at the Eisner Awards, Trina Robbins was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. She brought the number of women in the Hall of Fame up to four (out of 128). Hers was the last name announced, and I had already braced myself for disappointment when Sergio Aragonés said that the final inductee was “the most deserving” and called her name.
I didn’t need a legend like Aragonés to tell me that, but I’m happy he agrees. Because here’s what Trina Robbins’s induction into the Hall of Fame means: Women matter to comics.
Trina edited the first all-women’s comics anthology, It Ain’t Me Babe, co-founded the ongoing Wimmen’s Comix (which launched careers such as Melinda Gebbie and Roberta Gregory), and dug through the forgotten parts of comics history to find such lost treasures as Nell Brinkley, Fran Hopper, and Lily Renée; she has written three editions of the history of women in comics, with her definitive volume coming out later this year. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, she was a gadfly on the comics industry, pressing them to produce more books for girls, leading to such efforts as the Marvel-published Misty and Barbie series (the latter of which had an almost-completely female creative staff and was an early showcase of Amanda Conner’s art), the DC-published Legend of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story, and her own superhero creation (with artist Anne Timmons) GoGirl! Even this year, parallel to San Diego Comic-Con itself, she curated an exhibit on women in comics for the Women’s Museum of California. This blog and the Women in Comics Wiki would be the poorer without her. Trina Robbins’s name is synonymous with “women in comics”.
And the Eisner judges inducted Trina Robbins into the Hall of Fame, alongside Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Moëbius, Osamu Tezuka, and everyone from EC Comics. Trina Robbins is as important and as valuable to comics as these men because women are important to comics. Their talent and contributions are often ignored, forgotten, or diminished, and Trina Robbins was the first to put up a fight against such obscurity, not just for herself, but for all women who had ever worked in comics.
We can hope that the gates are now flung fully open for the lost women of comics history to receive their due and bring more parity to the Hall of Fame. But the future is most certainly bright, because after the awards ceremony was over—after Hope Larson, Becky Cloonan, and the Fiona Staples-drawn Saga took home their statues—Trina said to me, “Well, I’m glad I gave up drawing, because I could never compete with all the amazing women artists working today.”