Born today in 1914, Hilda Terry spent her life doing things her own way. She was the first famous syndicated female cartoonist, and the first woman to be admitted to the National Cartoonists Society in 1950. That sounds like a mild achievement, but in truth, it wasn’t. It took a year for her to get in, and she cajoled and shamed them into admission. Once in, she planted a foot firmly in the doorway and brought in other women artists.
Best known for her comic “Teena,” a light-hearted look at a young girl’s life and interests which ran in newspapers from 1941 to 1964, she also had a lifelong interest in sports, and became a pioneer of computer animation by designing sports cartoons for scoreboards in the 1970s. She also toured with the USO, worked with the Campfire Girls on a national level and hosted salons at her home with her husband, fellow cartoonist Gregory D’Alessio; those salons drew such luminaries as poet Carl Sandburg and modern classical guitar innovator Andres Segovia.
Success is the best revenge, because the very society that didn’t want her in its ranks awarded her with the honor of Best Animation Cartoonist in 1979. Thanks to her headstart in computers, she stayed busy well into retirement by designing websites and teaching art. The Internet also became her medium for expressing opinions on everything from history to reincarnation. She passed away in 2006, after living a full life of making sure her voice was heard.