Lois Lane and Superman by Brittney Williams
Pronounced "ska-lya." A little curated space for my interests. Primary fandoms: Spider-Man and Doctor Who. Proportion of political content may vary.
I also run @#$% Yeah, Spider-Wife!, a Mary Jane Watson tumblog.
Icon credit: made by me using art by Andie Tong.
'Tales of Metropolis: Lois Lane' has been uploaded IN FULL to youtube!! It's hilarious and well done and deserves ALL THE VIEWS! Also, bonus Kevin Conroy who is THE BEST BATMAN EVER. Please watch and share!!!
One of many awesome DC Nation shorts.
DC Nation continues to just be A++ all over the place.
This is like the only version of contemporary DC I care about lately.
Do I have a treat for you today. As you know, this year is the 75th anniversary of Superman and Lois Lane. In April I ran a series of posts from some of the creators who wrote Lois to celebrate the character. Brad Ricca is a well known authority on the history of the creation of Superman and Lois and we discussed his doing a guest post for the series. The result is this post which discusses and shows for the first time in many decades some some of the early, non-Superman comics by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel that led to the creation of Lois Lane.
Brad Ricca (shown below) takes it from here.
So when Sue approached me about writing a guest post for the 75th anniversary of Lois Lane, I jumped at the chance. I love the character, like DC Women Kicking Ass (especially on Twitter), and oh yeah, I have a book coming out called Super Boys (June 4, St. Martin’s Press) that is all about the creation of Superman. But I had one request: I didn’t want to write about Lois.
This month marks 75 years since Action Comics #1 landed on the newsstand. In that issue Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel introduced the world to one of the most important women in comics - Lois Lane (Superman made his debut in that issue, too). To mark this anniversary I’m chatting with some of her creators to get their thoughts on the character and her place in comic history.You can see the previous pieces here. Today I am chatting with multiple Eisner award nominee Colleen Coover who, with Paul Tobin, wrote the last standalone non-Elseworlds Lois Lane story that has appeared in comics for Superman 80 page Giant 2011 #1. She has also declared that she would “love to do a comic of Lois Lane as basically Nancy Drew with a press badge.”So Colleen, what’s your first memory of Lois Lane?I’m not sure I have an earliest memory, like I have no earliest memory of air. She was just always there.
I have the deepest respect for Colleen and, of course, I really appreciate her doing this interview. This has been such great fun and such a special treat for all the fans this past week.
But I gotta say….I just find some of these comments disheartening.
Lois Lane does not just exist to be the prize that Clark wins at the end of his hero journey. Women are not prizes to be won when the man finally achieves his goal and this idea that “marriage” is an end is just a really poor view of marriage and love to me and one that is truly disheartening.
Look, the bottom line is that this idea that men have to fight these incredible journeys in order to finally achieve their happiness with their true love is rooted in patriarchy and this idea that women were the “prize” that the man was fighting for. It keeps the woman fully positioned as an object and doesn’t allow her the opportunity to have true agency or grow on her own. Which may have been an accepted cultural mindset in the 1960’s when the Silver Age was written but it, at this point, in the year 2013, really insults me.
The problem is when you accept this premise as some kind of absolute truth about romantic drama you wind up supporting a cultural mindset that teaches young buys that their lives are “over” when they finally settle down. That their adventures are done. That’s depressing. And it contributes to a culture that gives us franchises like “The Hangover” where men go have to go on these benders to “escape” the chains of their wives and marriages because being tied down to a woman is just so not fun etc etc.
It also reinforces this idea that lingers and poisons our culture that paints the “wife” as lacking romantic mystery or “the ball and chain” and paints marriage as an endpoint on “adventure” as opposed to helping young people understand that choosing to spend your life with someone—-no matter your sexual orientation—-is a journey in and of itself and full of new adventures and challenges that you will work at every day for the rest of your life.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead of continuing to support this notion that romantic drama ends after you commit to someone that we, instead, start to help young people understand that there is adventure to be had in every phase of life and that two people SHARING their lives together can be just as much as an adventure as this never-ending chase that often paints the female in the equation like an object to be won?
I don’t want to read a million stories in which Superman fights for years on end to “win” Lois Lane at the end of his hero journey. Some of those stories are FINE. I’m happy to read SOME stories where that is the case. But this idea that that story can’t ever evolve and that these two people must always remain in a holding pattern because Superman’s journey is “over” when he finally “wins” Lois’s love is just an insulting concept to me. She’s not a prize to be won and life, love and marriage are just way more complex than that.
Maybe it I was a woman who existed in the time of Odysseus and Penelope (who btw were married) or a woman growing up in the 1950’s, I might be forced to accept this limited idea about the adventure being over when I got married. But, as it stands, that’s not acceptable to me and if it’s not something I support or believe in my own personal life than it’s not something I can accept when it comes to the narratives that inspire me. (I also can’t say I would ever choose a Silver Age comic where Superman is being a dick to Lois in an era ripe with misogyny over a comic written by a female creator decades later when Lois and Clark were both treated with respect in a culture that treated women a little better. But that’s a whole different disagreement for another time. )
I respect and love Colleen. But I think she’s wrong on this one.
Do you ever write meta you don’t knock out of the park? Just curious.
“Lois Lane, bless her heart, was a working girl.” — Noel Neill
“She was spunky; she was Lois! She just was a career woman and she didn’t take any crap from anybody.” — Dana Delaney
“She was intelligent, and clever, and fun and…her own woman.” — Erica Durance
“She’s fun and sassy, in control, getting into trouble, and always looking for a headline!” — Amy Adams
Happy 75th anniversary, Lois!
10 DAYS FOR 75 YEARS
↳ Day 2 — Favorite quote by Lois Lane
“I’m a journalist. Everything I write reaches millions of people! I have a responsibility to those people! There’s far too much injustice all around us to be ignored any longer!” — Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #121
I didn’t really anticipate that I was going to write about this today but enough people are talking about it that it’s time to break it down.
There are some pretty serious and disturbing gender connotations to the way DC Comics is approaching the 75th anniversary of Superman. These gender connotations take on an even more insulting and personal complex when one understands that DC recently was granted the copyright from the Siegel family and understands the personal history that Jerry and his wife, Joanne Siegel (who was part of the inspiration for Lois) had with DC Comics.
There are only two characters known to the Superman mythos that appeared in Action #1 75 years ago: They are Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman himself. That’s it. She pre-dates Lex Luthor, Jonathan and Martha Kent, Supergirl, Superboy, the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang and every other supporting player in the mythos. She pre-dates Jor-El and Lara and the S shield as we know it. She pre-dates the concept of “the kindly couple” finding Clark Kent. She pre-dates FLIGHT. Clark Kent had asked her out on a date before BATMAN AND WONDER WOMAN even existed. Lois Lane was introduced as a career woman in 1938 when the idea of that would have been unheard of. Even moreso, she was introduced as a career woman who was, in fact, an object of desire despite her brash personalty and many character traits that, in their time (and even today) would have been associated with a male figure. And if you don’t understand why that’s a big deal…..then really need to consider the way we treat powerful career women in this country through mass media—-the way we deem them “un-sexy” and “cold” and un-feminine. So yes—-it’s a big deal that Lois Lane was allowed to be both hard-ass career woman AND the object of Superman’s (Super—as in “better” than your average sexist man’s) desire.
Lois was the first woman of comics. She was one of the first and only female love interests to be introduced with a JOB and her own ambitious career path. She was introduced as aggressive and ambitious in a landscape when the female love interest would have almost ALWAYS have been introduced as being a passive figure. If Lois was in danger it was because she ran INTO the fire. To understand WHY this was important you need to understand the history of feminism. Lois was not a passive damsel. She was not Sleeping Beauty waiting to be kissed. She had a job. She sometimes had a freaking MACHINE GUN. She was often in the middle of the action before Superman even got on the scene. As the AVclub.com first noted, “She was the first response and Superman was the cavalry.”
Let me be clear here: Every time you cheer a relationship in comics where the female in question is presented as strong and smart and ambitious——you are benefitting from Lois Lane existing.
Pepper Potts (who I love btw) being the CEO of Stark Industries? You wouldn’t HAVE that if Lois hadn’t already been there first. The very idea of Pepper Potts even showing up as Tony’s equal in the first Iron Man movie as a brilliant business woman hinged on the history of Lois and Clark already EXISTING for years on end in various forms of mass media—the very idea that a human woman without the privilege of physical power could be the the “one thing that I can’t live without” and the backbone for a MAN of great power whether that “power” came in the form of alien superpowers or a suit made of iron and wealth. This concept did not evolve overnight. It was 75 years in the making, people. And there was another comics’ couple that debuted in 1938 who did the legwork through years of sexism in our culture to get you here. Understand that. Understand the circle of feminism.
Mary Jane Watson (who I freaking love btw and has a legacy of her own) being written as a strong-willed love interest for Peter next to Gwen’s more “pleasing” personality at the time? You wouldn’t HAVE that if Lois hadn’t been there first. There was a template there to create a female partner for Spider-Man with fire in her personality who wouldn’t just nod and smile but would fight back. Again, this concept did not evolve overnight.
Every freaking sci-fi romance that you read now (and I’m not talking about Twilight who took the wrong lessons from Superman, I’m talking about the GOOD ones that took the RIGHT lessons about female power) you owe in some form to Lois Lane. The very idea that a heroine with the ambition and sharp tongue who was going to do things her way and only accept the best in love on the side like Elizabeth Bennett or Jo March could be juxtaposed into a SUPERHERO narrative—-you owe to Lois Lane.
There is serious, bad gender commentary that hinges and infects DC Comics’ choices right now with regards to this character. And if you don’t understand this or if you are one who tries to make excuses for it bc it doesn’t suit your interest to do so, then you are not understanding feminism or gender in the genre and you are an active contributor to the problem.
Lois Lane is a female character who is very hard to objectify. She is very hard to make male gaze. She is usually identified more by her job and her brain than by some physical factor which is why yes, she can be ANY race or have any color hair. She doesn’t exist to be a sex object or to be a male escape fantasy. The CW tried their damnest to objectify her with Erica Durance in the role and yet Durance was so conscious of Lois’s agency and power that she just refused to allow it to happen. The character is so strong-willed that it’s virtually impossible to strip her of agency. She’s always in control. She is very, very hard to objectify and that makes her poison for an industry and a company who really only cares about their female icons when they can exploit them for the male gaze in some capacity. (See the current treatment of Wonder Woman for an example on the way DC has taken a character who was designed to empower women and put her through the lens of the male gaze to instead make her a male power fantasy. DC can’t handle Wonder Woman as she is supposed to be written anymore than they can handle Lois Lane as she is. They just fake it better with Diana because Diana punches shit every once and a while for the cheap seats in the back which allows the company to pretend that they are empowering her even as they continue to devalue her.)
Lois Lane deserves a variant cover for the 75th anniversary of Superman celebration. Lex Luthor, a character who btw is not 75 years old, has not only not been featured in as many comics of media properties as Lois as…but it’s not even close. But he’s an important figure in Superman history. So if they want to feature him on a cover….fine. That’s great. But not at the expense of the feminist icon of the narrative. This comes on the heels of the new 52 where Lois has been continually downplayed, marginalized and shoved out of roles she has held in this mythos for 75 years.
Jim Lee apparently told a fan at Wonder Con today that they might consider putting Lois on a cover “with Perry White and Jimmy Olsen.” So they want to shove the only other character from Action #1 and the DEBUT FEMALE CHARACTER OF THE DCU on a cover with two supporting MALE characters who debuted years after she did. They want to do what many, many employers and companies across media do daily to women: they want to downplay the contributions of the female player by forcing her to share space with two men who are nowhere near as important to downplay her power.
There was a WOMAN who debuted in Action Comics #1. And she was wearing a business suit. She had a JOB in the Great Depression. She had her own comic book for years on end that outsold Batman at one point. She endured years of sexism as women were shoved back into their traditional gender roles after World War 2. She endured terrible sexism at the hands of male creators only to rise from the ashes again in the Bronze Age through the Modern Age as the powerful career woman she was intended to be. She has been in more media properties than any other female character in the DCU roster. She headlined a TV show watched by 20 million people—-many of whom were women.
Oh yeah…and in the ultimate recognition that career women were allowed to CHOOSE their own paths she was married to f***ing Superman on and off in various continuities (including the MAIN DCU CANON) for 30+ years. She was the mother of his child in-canon both biologically and in an adopted capacity depending on what era you were in. So with all due respect, this stunt with Wonder Woman should go burn in the insulting hell fire from which it was spawned. Let’s just hope that the two feminist icons that DC offered up as sacrifices survive the burns from those assanine flames.
There was a woman in Action Comics #1 and she was an icon for millions of women who grew up seeing her on television and in comic books. So ask yourselves why DC Comics is now trying to erase the influence of the first woman of comics and more importantly, ask yourselves if it wouldn’t just be easier for Dan Didio and Jim Lee to just openly spit on Jerry and Joanne Siegels’ graves.
You claim to care about sexism in comics? Got news for you…THIS is sexism in comics at play. This is the attempted erasure of a feminine icon on her 75th anniversary. It’s not right. It’s not fair. And it shouldn’t be something that ANYONE who claims to care about women or gender in comics has tolerance for.
During today’s Gender through Comic Books online discussion with Mark Waid, a question arose about why there is not a Lois Lane comic. Mark Waid gave an intelligent, informed answer, that basically boiled down to “It would not sell.”
I totally respect Mr. Waid and think he is awesome, but I…
I’m a huge fan of Mark Waid. I like him a great deal. But I think that this is a perfect example of a really awesome guy with good intentions who, quite frankly, stumbled over his own privilege in a conversation that was supposed to be, ironically, about gender in comics.
The good news is that this class was supposed to be a learning experience for everyone and that includes the creators.
The shut down of so many of these female-led books becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Someone (almost always a MAN) in power makes a comment that the book won’t sell or have an audience and it becomes self-fulfilling.
Instead of falling back into the trap of assuming that the comics industry is male-dominant and that female driven books wno’t sell…I really wish Mr. Waid had taken a minute to step back and think about the other questions that arise from this.
What kind of impact does it have on a female driven book when a powerful, male creator assumes from the get-go that the book has no audience? Mark Waid is one of the most respected, powerful guys in comics.
What kind of impact would it have had it he stepped back and instead of falling back on the typical male reaction had taken a few minutes to work through the questions about WHY so many of these female driven books stumble.
Do they get the same prestigious creators and artistic talent? Do they get (with the exception of Batgirl and Wonder Woman right now) the same kind of high profile, well-known writers at the helm? Do they get the best arists? Or are they thrown to the bottom of the heap without the same kind of attention and promotion that is given to the male books? These things have an IMPACT.
Then we get to the comics market itself. It’s so easy to fallback on the stereotype (as Waid pretty much did here) that women just don’t read comics. Except…that’s not true. It’s just not true.
Digital Comics have changed the game. They’ve changed the game, in part, because they’ve made comics easier to access than ever before but they’ve also changed the game, in part, because they present an equal and welcoming space where both men AND women can feel like a welcomed consumer.
I like Waid but I think (and based on the reactions of others I don’t think i’m alone) that he stumbled here. His response, unfortunately, echoed some gender privilege in a male dominant industry. What I wish he had done was step back, allow the question to be uncomfortable and then do his best to really get underneath this conversation knowing that this was a supportive community that was ready and willing to TALK about these things and talk them out.
When I first started reading comics, I tracked down this awesome Lois Lane comic during her “I’m a freelance reporter, I’m a feminist” bronze age phase (it even had a Rose and Thorn backup). I would definitely buy a Lois Lane comic.
I’m with Jason on this 100%. I think if you put the kind of talent and marketing behind a Lois Lane book that you put behind the relaunch of Batman in the nu52, there is absolutely a market for it.
Who remembers the Lois Lane from Superman: The Animated Series. Her insight, her drive, her recklessness. Who’s the hero: the invincible man that fights crime because the can run face first into a tank and come out on top or the woman who puts her self in harm’s way day after day because THE TRUTH IS IMPORTANT AND PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW IT!
If DC asked me to, I would write the heck out of that book. Maybe it sells, maybe it doesn’t - but it damn well oughta have as much of a chance to fail as Team 7, Hawkman, JLI, Blue Beetle, Mister Terrific, Hawk and Dove, Deathstroke, Ravagers, Men of War, Sword of Sorcery, Firestorm, Frankenstein, OMAC, Voodoo, Static Shock, G.I. Combat, Grifter, Legion Lost, Resurrection Man, and Captain Atom.