the real lois lane -- 4/11/24

Today's encore selection -- from Super Boys by Brad Ricca. The inspiration for Lois Lane:

"Most female comics characters at the time were either femmes fatales (Roy Crane's Dragon Lady), ditzy, funny housewives (Blondie), or damsels in distress (Olive Oyl). Lois was initially a little of all of these -- for though she is surely good, her treatment of Clark sometimes borders on the cruel, which rang true for lots of readers. So where did the truth of this character come from? An October 29, 1975, article in The Washington Star by John Sherwood claims that

Lois Lane was named after Lois Amster, a Cleveland girl whom Joe [Shuster] had a crush on. She was not even aware of his existence. 'She's a grandmother now in Cleveland, ' says Joe, 'but I don't think she has any idea that she was the inspiration for Lois Lane.'

"Lois Amster was a Glenville brunette with a round face and a big smile. She was the girl next door, except she didn't live near Joe or Jerry [Siegel, creators of Superman,] and she wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. But they both liked her. Lois was small and smiling, an A-plus student who was involved in almost everything the school did. She was nicknamed 'Little Angel,' after her initials. Her high school activities in the yearbook included National Honor Society, Choral Club, English Club, Dramatics, Class Honor Roll, and Senior Sponsor. Coincidentally, Jerry was on two of these clubs -- Choral and Dramatics -- the only two that he could legitimately join. Jerry did not have a crush on her; he was in love with her. Everyone was.

"Since he couldn't score any touchdowns for her, Jerry had to use his writing to get her attention. ... Her bane first appears in Torch 'Serialette' titled 'The Penthouse Murders,' with a byline of 'by Lois I. Living.' The story is a split between hyperbole and silliness: 'Death, cruel and merciless, stalked the roots of the city! A killer, mad terrible was at large!' The killer gives this one one-off tale a more unsettling quality of realism: 'The killer had struck but all the author wants Lois to know is that he is alive.' The joke is really the plea from the authors to Lois that they were indeed alive in the first place. But the column -- written by 'Seagull and Schtank' -- is never continued, because 'the writers of this column are being sued for plagiarism.'

"In the May 19, 1932, 'Dramatics,' Jerry asks: 'Why doesn't Lois Amster come out for Drama Club?' and he is really asking, Why doesn't Lois Amster go out with me? With high school ending, there would be no reason to see her. That was a terrible and brutal 'fact.' Yet Jerry had one hand left to play.

"The most brazen attempt at romance that Jerry makes in his writing life is a semianonymous poem that appears in The Torch on December 1, 1932. It was the year of the death of his father and the attempt at fame with Science Fiction. Jerry may have felt emboldened -- or that he had nothing left to lose. He tossed and turned before deciding to submit it. He thought for sure -- for sure -- that this would finally tip the scales his way and Lois would walk up to him and say, Hi there, I'm Lois. The day it ran, he dressed nicer than usual and made sure that if Lois was within range, he would laugh and joke with his Torch buddies as if nothing were out of the ordinary.

"There were some elbows here and there, but mostly he was quiet and too horrified even to look up. She didn't say a thing.

"Sick with rejection, Jerry tried to pass it off as humor in the next issue through an imagined, self-deprecating conversation between Lois and Stiletto.

"She must have known. She just didn't care.

"Jerry disguised nearly all of his emotions under layers of text and humor, even other identities, but they all failed. He probably even interviewed her for the Goober piece, but she never remembered it. When interviewed decades later, Lois claimed she didn't even know Jerry. She only remembered that he was the guy who once wore his pajamas to school. She remembered that she wanted to be a reporter someday. Or maybe a detective."



Brad Ricca


Super Boys


St. Martin's Press


Copyright 2013 by Brad Ricca


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