TRINA ROBBINS responds
Trina Robbins is a personal hero of mine, as well as a favorite artist. She's been producing work with girls (and women) in mind since the sixties, first with underground comics, all the way through to "California Girls" and "Barbie" comics, which were aimed at the supposedly non-existent young girls' market. She did a terrifically evocative "Wonder Woman" mini-series, authored The Great Women Superheroes and A Century of Women Cartoonists, and has a new book coming in July from Chronicle Books: From Girls to Grrrlz. "It's a history of girl comics, from Archie and the teen comics of the '40s through the romance comics of the '50s and '60s to today's grrlzines. It has luscious color illos and I'm very happy with it." Trina has also been a major force in Friends of Lulu, the organization designed to promote women in comics, as readers and creators. She's pretty damn cool, all in all! Visit her home page. (GS)
Rachel forwarded your letter to me, because she felt I might also have an interesting response. Alas, I can only reiterate what she wrote to me:"for most men women are objects to serve a purpose, one of those purposes being for men to become real men through the supposed grief and pain they feel when a woman is killed."
I must confess that since I am not a reader of superhero comics, I was a bit taken aback by the sheer enormity of your list of women comic characters who've had dreadful things done to them, but I was not surprised. The hero who is justified into turning into a vengeful superhero by the violent murder of his wife and/or kids by the mob or whatever, is such a cliche! I remember being at a political fundraiser to which this one woman had brought her 11 or 12-year-old son. When he learned I worked in comics, he told me he was an avid fan of "The Punisher." I replied I didn't read it and didn't like that kind of comic, and he persisted, "But it's really deep, y'know. For instance,guess how he became the Punisher?" I took an easy stab at it: "Let's see... his wife and kids were violently murdered by the mob?" And the kid went, "How did you know?"
Which probably means that as long as comics continue to be written by adolescent boys for adolescent boys, we'll be seeing a lot more women characters sacrificed for cliché reasons.
Cheers, Trina Robbins