Thursday, July 18, 2013

TEENA by Hilda Terry

Some TEENA strips by Hilda Terry from her autobiography STRANGE BOD FELLOWS, which details her life, her cartoons and her belief in reincarnation.

Look at all the design and figure work for what is really just a static set up to a gag. The dialogue doesn't imply movement. That was the cartoonist's choice.

And her choice to juxtapose the stripes on Teena's blouse with the grain on the tree has a nice contrast, as both of the girls move around, and the angle gets closer on them. And not only do we, the readers, get the pay off -- Teena gets her pay off: an apple. I have to think the attention to texture was due to Hilda's fashion background.

Hilda bought a couple of building plots for $200 each in Rocky Point, Long Island. She began building a cabin on the land, having never had done anything like that before. This worked its way into Teena's world for series of cartoons.

The verve of the bodies, combined with the rigidity of the wall makes this a pleasing cartoon to linger over. She was not afraid to draw a lot of people. And looking at the third panel, I see those feet that she drew, and they really imply the weight of the wall.

Little Gwendolyn, a later addition to the strip, had a knack for showing her knickers (penultimate panel above). I like the first panel, where we can see the lanky gawkiness that teenagers have, This is something I see in Borgman's drawings for ZITS.

So much detail in the porch, and Terry labors over it nicely. And Teena is never in the same position twice. "Dorcas Good" refers to the spirit of a real girl that Ms. Terry felt inhabited her, and inspired her work. (That's the reincarnation part of her STRANGE BOD FELLOWS autobiography.)

"LET ME ASK -- what would you do if commanded to entertain the King with a new original joke every day or lose your head? If you're an ordinary person, as I am, you would probably do as I did-- turn to God and yell 'HELP!!!' 
"No one knows where ideas come from. My experience as a cartoonist, commanded to come up with a new joke every day or lose my job, was that they come from outer space. I have a pretty good relationship with God, but at some point I began to realize the preposterous vanity of presuming the Absolute Eternal Ultimate would be helping me write jokes. In so complicated a system as the entire universe. face it -- there has to be a lot of delegating. I knew an invisible SOMEone was helping me, and I had an obsessive curiosity as to whom that might be." 
-- STRANGE BOD FELLOWS, self published autobiography by Hilda Terry, 1992.


"Later in life, she was convinced that she was the reincarnation of Dorcas Good, a child accused of witchcraft at Salem, Mass."

-- Stephen Miller, writing about Hilda Terry's life in the October 18, 2006 edition of the New York Sun.

-- From an October 19, 2006 post.


Brian Fies said...

Nice tribute and analysis of an interesting creator. Her style reminds me of Marty Links, and not entirely because she's a woman writing about lanky teenage girls. The strip feels like an interesting blend of old and new to me: some old-timey gags that would've been at home in the '30s, but a sophisticated mid-century line and design sense.

The photo of her at the NCS dinner with Rube highlights the fact Terry was the woman who challenged the Society's "men only" policy and became one of the first women accepted in 1950.

Trade Loeffler said...

Thanks for posting this, Mike. While I've heard of Hilda Terry, I must confess to not being familiar with her comics. Her artwork is beautiful. The first comic you've posted here is amazing. Nice stuff.