Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Thoughts from Terry

One of the most rewarding things I did during my tenure as President of Friends of Lulu-New York this past year was getting to know Hilda Terry, a remarkable woman 88 years young and still vital and witty and writing every day. Susan B and I are trying to get her to start a blog, but so far she's just writing me lots of cool e-mails. Some of them have made it into FoL-NY's tribute page to this comics pioneer, and some of them I just like to pass along, like this one:

Dear Elayne –– I think we have to buck the fact that girls are mainly interested in boys and whatever the boys are interested, but I DEFINITELY believe we need to concentrate on persuading more girls to READ COMICS. How?

In trying to think of what girls would like to see in comics in comics, I went back to my own youth. I was then reading true romance magazines, and magazines that offered pen pals. I wrote to a cowboys hoping to find someone to love me.

Omigawd. Isn’t that what I keep getting on my e-mail? Teen porns looking to exploit girls looking for someone to love them?

In the early days of radio before TV, I used to hate radio stories in which men were always intrigued by nymphomaniacs. I know I was so convinced I had to be what the boy wanted that I once pretended to be having sex with a marijuana smoker (when they were really rare), to interest an alcoholic on whom I had a crush. I knew I was losing him because, having a sweet tooth, I just couldn't join him in what HE liked.

When I was doing my comic strip, I had Camp Fire Girls and got my ideas from them. When I read those strips today, it’s like reading someone else’s work, but I do recognize the young girls I was doing all those fun things with. If I was to do a comic today, I would make my girl a mental heroine, always outsmarting the boys, but being smart enough to let them think THEY were the smart ones. I think a lot of today’s girls, having been led into so much stupidity to be what they’ve been persuaded boys like, must hate that image of themselves –– they just might like to be able to relate with an image of not being as stupid as boys think they are. I LOVED it when I could run faster than the boys I liked, but I never liked violence. I could never relate to a female character who can whip the guys. I DO remember a brief period when I THOUGHT swearing was what boys liked to hear from a girl. I can understand girls who think having sex and then brushing off a guy –– reversing what men do to women –– but that's a double loser's revenge. Women's lib would really be successful when women can persude men to want to be what they want –– but only when they find out what it is they REALLY want. I don't know what I ever wanted before I was old enough to KNOW what I wanted.

My friend Heidi MacDonald, in her column for Comics Buyer's Guide, referred to the ever-ongoing discussions about how to get more people reading comics as "The Talk." Nobody talks The Talk in quite the same way Hilda Terry does. "Double loser's revenge" –– I love it...