Master Post: 75 Years of Lois Lane

This is the master post for our week of guest posts on Lois Lane’s long publishing history. As always, thanks to all of our wonderful writers, and our supportive readers.

Now, who’s ready for a new Lois? Two days until Man of Steel, friends. Two days.

Guest posts

It would mean that for (possibly) the first time, a Black woman was the center of a mainstream narrative as more than just the bitch/mammy/best friend/sexpot/token Negro.  It means a Black woman would be the center of a mainstream comic book narrative where she is characterized as having integrity, strength, and sexiness without it being at the expense of her femininity or desirability.  It would mean a Black woman would be the symbol of Hope for one of the most powerful characters ever created.

In the “Letters to Lois” column in SGFLL #38, a reader named Jim summed up the situation: “Dear Editor: Why does Lois always cry, cry, cry?” Frankly, it was hard to miss, even from the first issue: Lois cried in every single story in SGFLL #1. She sobbed when she thought her actions led to the death of a Count (it was all a ruse by Superman), bawled when Superman didn’t like her cooking enough to fall in love with her, and wept when she thought she’d turned into a witch (another ruse from Superman). Lois’ tears were a hallmark of the book from day one.

Yet, even taking into account the times, there is still something very disrespectful in what was done to Lois Lane. She was turned in to a caricature of herself. The full burden of the triangle for two was put on her shoulders. Clark Kent was the disguise, and his disguise was a caricature. He was timid, not a go getter, and often portrayed as afraid of his own shadow. Lois was strong, but 1950s Lois’s strength wasn’t celebrated the way it was in 1938. Instead it was held up as a flaw. Readers were expected to believe that because Lois was attracted to the man Clark really was, aka Superman, she was some kind of power hungry gold digger.

“We tried to portray a Lois who cared about people and their plight,  who was committed to her job and loved it, and saw it as a way to give something to the world.”

Teri Hatcher, who brought Lois to life, was the final piece of the puzzle that made the character work so absolutely. Hatcher made Lois smart, courageous, and capable, but with a realness at the heart of the character that kept Lois from being a cardboard cutout of The Ideal Woman. She may prove to be Clark Kent’s ideal woman, of course, but I’d argue that’s precisely because Lois herself is so completely human.

It’s not quite as simple as that. Even in its childishness, Action Comics presented Lois as a confusing character. Superman desires her, but has no idea how to treat her. By creating the outrageously meek persona of Clark Kent (and in those early comics, it was definitely Clark who was the fabricated personality, not Superman), Superman intentionally pushes Lois away with his timid behavior. But whenever he has an opportunity to relate to her as Superman, he still gets in his own way by being snobbish and indifferent to her, if not outright hostile.

Other Posts

  • Growing Up With Lois, by TaraGeek.

    There’s probably more of her than I realise because in my formative years when I was struggling to deal with being trans, when I was working out how to grow up, Lois Lane was there for me. She was a hero and a role model who demonstrated to this lonely young girl, like she did to so many others cis and trans, what kind of woman we might imagine ourselves to be. Thanks for that Lois.

  • Lois Lane’s Secret Identity, Ian Perez.

So right from the beginning, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman has something to say about women and society, and how our titular reporter fits into that. It is that understanding that fuels its take on Lois Lane, the ur-career woman.  When we see Teri Hatcher asserting in no uncertain terms that she is top banana, we know that she knows it’s a survival mechanism: if she’s not careful—if she ever lets her employers forget that she’s The Best Reporter On The Planet, and they ever start thinking of her as the woman they can just task with whatever needs doing that day (say, showing rookie reporters around) the career and reputation she’s made for herself and loves is over.

Lois Lane: She’s More Than A Reporter To Me, Ealperin.

What impact did Lois Lane have on my life as a female fan of comic books? As a kid, I would make sure I had all of my chores and homework done, at age 5, before sitting down on the couch, with my dad in tow, back when it aired on September, 12th, 1993, eagerly waiting for “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” Lois Lane was more than a character; she was someone with whom I could identify. She was a writer, a journalist, and a working woman, who had the guts to say what was on her mind, and did all that she could to uncover the truth. She was spunky, sarcastic, funny, down-to-earth, and a romantic, at times, throughout her journey on the show.

Megan Purdy

Megan Purdy

Publisher of all this. Megan was born in Toronto. She's still there. Philosopher, space vampire, heart of a killer.

2 thoughts on “Master Post: 75 Years of Lois Lane

  1. THANK YOU, for including my essay!!! It’s such a delight to find out that it’s up on,here with some great company! Just watched Man Of Steel, today, as well! 🙂

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