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Saturday, April 21, 2018 

NY Vulture's biased writeup about Trina Robbins

NY Vulture wrote about the career of veteran artist Trina Robbins, talking all about her feminist background, but curiously enough, leaving out famous creations like Vampirella, presumably because it doesn't jibe well with their social justice agenda. What they do bring up is the anthology stories she illustrated about lesbianism, but it's otherwise just skimming the surface. Interestingly, what they do say is:
And that comic wasn’t the only instance in which Robbins helped shape the development of comic books and the way we perceive women in them. Just two years later, she helped launch the longest-running comics series created and edited entirely by women, Wimmen’s Comix. On top of that, in its first issue, she wrote and drew a short story called “Sandy Comes Out,” which starred the first extant lesbian comic-book character outside of pornography. Later, she became the premier historian of female comics creators, penning one prose book after another on the topic. The women she writes about managed to carve out niches in the boys’ club that is the American comics industry — an achievement she shares with them.
Well gee, doesn't that at least confirm there have been women in comicdom for decades, and that it's not just some recent occurance? Robbins' co-creating Vampirella is another prime example of women's achievements in the field, yet that's something they oddly didn't mention, possibly because it conflicts with their SJW agenda. Nor do they mention Dorothy Woolfolk was the DC writer/editor who introduced Kryptonite as a weak point for Superman into the DCU. They continue with some pretty low propaganda:
If you haven’t heard of Robbins, it’s in no small part due to the fact that the comics ecosystem has historically been uninterested in feminist rhetoric and female achievement. That’s changed to a significant degree in the past decade, which has seen more and more outspoken women creators rising in the ranks. But Robbins was their distant forerunner. Her time in the underground was rarely a smooth ride, and the bumps along the way were sometimes created by her tendency to advance a version of feminism that both inspired and rankled those around her in that underground.
Wrong. It's the Vulture writer himself who's uninterested in female achievement. Why else would he blot out Vampirella as an accomplishment? Come to think of it, if the subject were about African-Americans in the field, he'd surely omit Phantom Lady as an achievement for artist Matt Baker, one of the earliest African-Americans in comicdom. So what's the columnist's point anyway? I get the vibe he thinks feminism as rhetoric is a positive trait. But as recent leftist examples of the same have proven, it can be quite damaging. What I do know is that years before, interestingly enough, there were liberals who actually did see the harm that could come from radical feminism, recalling that in one of the decidedly better moments in Denny O'Neil's run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, he pointed out how some feminists risk being tools of manipulative men, and in the early 80s in Marvel Team-Up #107, there was a story guest-starring She-Hulk in one of her early appearances featuring a band of female villains that were meant as a metaphor for radical feminists ("This Rumor of Revolution"). Of course, under today's managements it's no longer possible to produce a story even remotely negative towards left-wing feminism.

Now here comes something puzzling, if we include Robbins' most notable achievements:
But all was not well in the revolution. Wimmen’s Comix also featured the debut of one cartoonist who would become Robbins’s loudest critic: Aline Kominsky, now Aline Kominsky-Crumb. She had a style that couldn’t have been more different from that of Robbins. Where the latter was fond of refined elegance in content and presentation, Kominsky was committed to radical messiness. Kominsky’s stories for Wimmen’s Comix were autobiographical affairs that depicted, in uncomfortably vivid detail, her own self-hatred and neuroses. Robbins wasn’t a fan of the work, but she was even less keen on Kominsky’s decision to date R. Crumb. Kominsky and Noomin grew resentful of Robbins.

“[W]e were feeling increasingly annoyed and alienated from the group, especially from Trina Robbins and her minions,” Kominsky wrote of herself and Noomin in her 2007 graphic memoir Need More Love. “We unabashedly liked men. We liked being sexy, and felt our Female Power to be a positive force … We also started looking at Trina’s and Sharon Rudall’s [sic] work more critically, and concluded that it was shallow, childish, simplistic, and humorless. We were more comfortable seeing ourselves as ‘Bad Girls,’ sluts, anarchist artists doing whatever we pleased.”
At this point, I'm sure something's been taken out of context, given that Vampirella's pretty sexy and the kind of character who could count as a "bad girl". And the next paragraphs only add more to the confusion:
The resentment was — and is — mutual, though Robbins thinks it has less to do with politics than personalities. “I think they just don’t like me and just never liked me,” Robbins says. “I think it’s as simple as that.” Whether or not that was true at the outset, Robbins certainly gave them reason for bitterness in time. In April of 1975, a fateful article was published in the Barb, written by a woman named Sally Harms, ostensibly about sexism in the underground-comix scene. But the key passage was a bit of spite in which Robbins was quoted as saying Kominsky and Noomin were “camp followers” (an archaic term for women who sexually serviced men in the military) that “[t]heir work is obviously crude,” and that “I’ve already rejected work that’s better than theirs.” Kominsky and Noomin had enough. They set out and formed their own all-woman comic, Twisted Sisters.

“We didn’t like Trina’s definition of feminism,” Noomin tells me. “We were more interested in irony and self-deprecation and autobiographical stuff than presenting idealized Amazons who looked like Sheena of the Jungle. It was kind of a difference of opinion.” Says Rudahl, “It wasn’t any kind of deep-seated philosophical artistic split. It was just plain jealousy, and that was typical high-school, bad-girl stuff.” Whatever the cause, the split rocked the underground. “Unfortunately, it seemed to force some of the other women in that collective to take sides,” recalls publisher Denis Kitchen, who had been one of the few men to invite Robbins into his comics. “I think I thought initially, Well, it’ll fly over, and it didn’t.”
Man, is this mind-boggling already! So on the one hand, you have somebody telling they liked men and being sexy, which Robbins never went against, and on other, you have somebody saying they cared more about irony, self-deprecation, and autobiographies than Amazons like Wonder Woman and girls like Sheena, which only confirms the fact Robbins had nothing against all that, and she'd drawn WW in the mid-80s. Something's been taken out of context here alright, and I figure they were taking some minor disputes among the contributors to the anthology she worked and blowing them way out of proportion. But, they do also note she'd had her problems with the left as well on the following grounds:
Robbins was criticized from the left flank, as well, on the grounds that Wimmen’s Comix didn’t include enough work from queer women and women of color. “We reached out to all women in our comic; we always asked for submissions,” Robbins says, but “we just never got anything from women of color” and “there really wasn’t much we could do until we finally got a submission from a lesbian.”
That sounds like early versions of what we now call "social justice". The belief somebody should be lambasted just because the segments of society they wanted putting in their own contributions seemingly weren't doing it. Well gee, why didn't those left-flankers they speak of just step up to plate themselves and offer something for the anthology when it was in publication? Totally pathetic.

They don't even mention she visited Israel last year (and even met with artist Michael Netzer, who was also notable in his time), and it's clear whatever Robbins' politics, she's got some respect for the Land of Milk and Honey that today's leftists have far less of. This Vulture article is one of the lowest they've ever coughed up, and it's possible they were so otherwise biased because in their view, she's not the kind of feminist they see fit.

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Vampirella was created by Forrest J Ackerman and Tom Sutton. Trina Robbins contributed to the costume design.

Kryptonite was first introduced in the Superman radio show.


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