MOONSTONE MONDAY-Interview with CHICKS IN CAPES Author TRINA ROBBINS!
Moonstone Entertainment, Inc. is releasing interviews done with the creative staff behind its upcoming CHICKS IN CAPES anthology. The first of these is with noted comic writer and herstorian, Trina Robbins!
Trina Robbins-CHICKS IN CAPES Contributor/Herstorian/Writer/Creator
1.Trina, can you share some of your experience, both in general where writing is concerned as well as specifically relating to comics and super heroes?
TR: I was very lucky to have a schoolteacher mother who taught me to read and write at the age of 4, and I’ver been doing both with great gusto ever since. I’ve been writing professionally for over 30 years, books and comics, and there’s nothing I’d rather do. Just sitting at the computer and pressing those keys is for me a pleasurable experience.
I was thrilled when Lori invited me to contrinute to Chicks In Capes, because I feel that for the most part, comic books don’t “get it” when it comes to superheroines, so this was my chance to do it right! It frustrates me that a potentially great character like Wonder Woman can be written really well by one writer, but then someone else can take over and make a mess of her. But Witchwoman is MINE, all mine, and nobody can mess with her!
2. You have a story featured in the Moonstone anthology, CHICKS IN CAPES. What’s it about?
TR: It’s a little bit political and a little bit feminist, because it takes place in a (I hope not!) possible future where the extreme Christian right wing has taken over. And of course, as expected, one of the things they do is oppress women. It’s a world in which women are encouraged to go back to the kitchen and be good little wives and mothers, nothing more, and any woman who breaks those rules is in danger of being considered a witch. And yes, they burn witches! I will say no more!
3. You’re also known as an authority on comics, referred to as a ‘herstorian’ by some. Do you think an anthology such as CHICKS IN CAPES has the potential to be significant in publishing history, specifically relating to the portrayal of female characters?
TR: Yes! We need to see more creative concepts of superheroines, and we need to see them from a woman’s point of view. I’m not saying men can’t write good women, many men do — the Hernandez brothers immediately come to mind — but I do believe that women tend to know what women like, because, being women, it’s what THEY like, no? But it’s revolutionary, by golly, to see not just a woman’s take on an already established superheroine, but to see a woman create her own superheroine. As a comics herstorian, I can tell you that that’s only been done once before, by the incredible Tarpe Mills, who created Miss Fury in her own image in 1941.
4. What are the ingredients to building a good super hero character and/or telling a good super tale in prose?
TR: First of all, to tell a super tale you need a whole helluva lot more than page after page of fight scenes, you need something called a plot. Plots have beginnings, middles, and ends, and it amazes me how some comics writers don’t seem to know that.
As for creating your character, I happen to be a fan of Joseph Campbell and his writings on the universal hero of myth. You’ll find that all mythic heroes, from whatever culture, have certain things in common. They need to be orphaned, they need to be demi-gods, with one mortal parent and one divine parent, they need to die, at least symbolically, by going underground to the land of the dead, and they need to emerge again and heal the land. Not every hero bears all these traits, but (s)he has to have some of them in order to resonate in our collective unconscious. Superman, Wonder Woman, batman, and Captain Marvel all contained these traits, which is why they have survived so long while lesser superheroes fell by the wayside. I think my Witchwoman also bears these traits.