CARTOON ENTHUSIASTS, GRAPHIC novelists and folks from all over the Bay Area braved the rain to meet Wonder Woman — or at least the first woman to draw her — at the Cartoon Art Museum Saturday and Sunday.

The occasion was a pop-up Women’s Comics Marketplace, and Trina Robbins, the first female illustrator of the feminist icon, was on hand along with 20 or so exhibitors whose work reflected the rich variety of styles and subject matter in women’s comics today.

Comic artist Trina Robbins appears at an exhibitor table during the Women’s Comics Marketplace event at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco on March 11, 2023. Robbins, a San Francisco resident, was the first woman to illustrate the Wonder Woman superhero comic book character. (Isaac Ceja/Bay City News)

“We love comic books. We are vibing out,” said Valaree Garcia of San Francisco, who attended the event with her partner Sunday. “Every single booth is amazing, every woman is telling her story her own way.”

Cartoon artist Avy Jetter, creator of the idie comic “Nuthin’ Good Ever Happens at 4 a.m.,” holds an art print of her portrait of Octavia Butler, an American science fiction author and a multiple recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards. (Photo credit: Mark Rea)

Exhibitor Avy Jetter of Oakland displayed her indie comic “Nuthin’ Good Ever Happens at 4 a.m.” which offers an Equal Opportunity look at the world of zombies, with an all-black cast of undead.

Around the corner at another table was cartoonist Jules Rivera, a surfer who detailed her dive into the largely male world of surfing in one of her first zines.

“I was already an aqua creature. I grew up in Orlando and had always lived on the beach,” Rivera said. When she moved to California, becoming a surfer came easily.

Rivera took over the decades-old Washington Post cartoon strip “Mark Trail” in 2020. The conservation-minded but rather conventional male character quickly got a makeover.

Rivera said, “I made him hot. They always intended him to be hot, they just went about it the wrong way.” In her zine, “Thirst Trapped in a Cave,” Rivera depicts Trail in a series of seductive poses she describes as “pinups.”

For kids and kids at heart

While many of the exhibitors create material intended for adults, Jen de Oliveira, a Livermore resident, is the co-creator of Sunday Haha, a free weekly comics newsletter for kids.

Children were much in evidence at the event, grouped around a table in the back industriously coloring and drawing, gathered in front of a big screen in another room watching (what else?) cartoons, sprawled on the floor reading (what else?) comic books.

At 4 p.m., the event adjourned to the library for tea with Robbins and Lee Marrs.

Sitting at a round table sipping tea and eating gingersnaps, the two shared stories of their lives in the comics field.

Marrs, a Berkeley resident, created the comic book series, “The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp,” which was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2017, the highest honor bestowed in the comic book world.

In 1972, Robbins, a San Francisco resident, wrote and drew a short story called “Sandy Comes Out,” starring the first lesbian comic-book character outside of pornography. Shifting gears, she began drawing for DC Comics in the 1980s, and since then has authored several books and continues to write and draw comics.

A panel from Trina Robbins’ groundbreaking 1972 comic “Sandy Comes Out.” It starred the first lesbian comic-book character outside of pornography. (Babylon Falling/Tumblr)

“Lee Marrs and Trina Robbins talking about feminism, and the younger artists writing graphic novels about their lives – you don’t have to create a universe. You don’t have to make up a planet” the way traditional cartoonists have done, said Ron Evans, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, who was on hand for the event.

Comic artist Trina Robbins, left, talks about her book “Gladys Parker: A Life in Comics, A Passion for Fashion” with comic artist Lee Marrs during the Women’s Comics Marketplace event on Saturday. (Isaac Ceja/Bay City News)

“It’s what you experience, and it’s much more relatable,” Evans said. Reading about common experiences in graphic novels and cartoons can make people, especially young people, feel less alone.

“In school you’re taught to write about what you know, and that’s what they’re doing. It’s cathartic, and who knows? Maybe it will help other people.”