Trina Robbins passes along word that comics pioneer Hilda Terry has passed away at the age of 92.
I’m very sorry to inform you that pioneer woman cartoonist Hilda Terry passed away on October 13. Hilda’s strip, Teena, ran in national newspapers from 1941 – 1966, after which she became a pioneer computer animator, animating baseball scoreboards for the Mets, for which she won a National Cartoonist Society award. There’s a little irony there, since Hilda was responsible for breaking the gender barrier of the NCS, which up till 1950 was a male-only organization. Hilda’s husband, the late cartoonist Gregory D’Allessio, submitted Hilda’s name for membership, and the ensuing fight between members about whether or not to open up their membership finally ended with Hilda being accepted into the society a year later, after which she submitted the names of all her women cartoonist friends, thus breaking the gender barrier.
Hilda always said that we don’t die, and that Gregory was still with her. Wherever she is, she’s with Gregory now.
Terry’s extensive website is still up. Her Lambiek page is here. Sadly, her webpage was more given over to her current interests in historical preservation and other, admittedly oddball matters, and very little to her art. There are only a handful of examples of it online. Terry never stopped learning and growing. After working in comic books for so many years, she switched to animation, for which she won an NCS award, and later launched her website and continued to write.
I saw Terry (above on the left) for the last time at Robbins’s slide show at MoCCA last June. She was clearly on the the last portion of her journey, and Trina was worried about her getting home in one piece. Someone from Lulu whose name I have shamefully forgotten escorted her home, and we were all glad. Hilda had made it down to MoCCA all by herself, however, at age 92, no mean feat and a tribute to her desire to still be part of things.
As I wrote then:
Hilda Terry, the creator of TEENA and the first woman to join the National Cartoonists Society, was at the lecture. Terry is 92 and by her own admission “can’t hear and can’t see.” She stood up and made a rather rambling speech during the Q&A, but we all figured, well, she’s allowed. She did say one thing that was so blunt and honest that I had to write it down. “If you do a comic strip, you don’t want it to be forgotten.”
Indeed. I sincerely hope Hilda won’t be forgotten. Even meeting her in her later years, she was an amazing and inspiring person, so I know I won’t.