espanolbot: (Default)
[personal profile] espanolbot posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Introduced all the way back in Action Comics 1, Lois Lane is just as old a character as Superman, who also was introduced in the same issue. With her appearance based on Joanne Kovacs (who would later go on to marry Jerry Siegel) and her personality based on awesome historical reporter Nellie Bly, it's curious how some elements from her introduction changed over time while others stuck around.

What I'm saying is that it's curious how Lois went from a tough adventurous reporter at a time when such a career for women was actively discouraged, to comparitively recent portrayals which take a huge step backwards in terms of characterisation.

Starting up, we have our introduction to Lois, where Clark decides to ask her out after a busy night of beating up domestic abusers. Unfortunately, some gangsters decide that Lois should just abandon Clark mid-date, leading to a physical confrontation.
This quickly escalates into Lois meeting Superman for the first time, when he picks up the gangsters' car and smashes it into some rocks. So yeah, that iconic Action Comics 1 cover? It's Superman totalling some jerks' car for being creepers to Lois.

But yeah, notable things about this introduction? Lois is shown to be someone who makes Clark, a man established in previous pages as being, well, Superman, nervous. When confronted with much larger, intimidating men she's more than willing to talk on her own terms and take no crap from sexist jerks... which it being the 1930s, would have been probably most of the people she encountered in her daily life.

Additionally, it's established that Clark isn't as good a reporter as Lois, and she actually uses her investigative skills in later stories in the 40s to try and prove that Clark and Superman are the same person, something which is only foiled by Superman using his powers to foil her scheme. In 1944 she even had her own feature in Superman's comic (Lois Lane, Girl Reporter) which had her investigating stories and beating bad guys without Superman's help.

More about the series here.

So yeah, Lois. Strong female character based on an actual person who got up to a number of old timey antics that Lois wouldn't be out of place doing, what changed?

Well despite Lois continuing to grow in popularity in through the 1950s, enough to even garner her getting an actual proper solo series (Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend) the arguement being made is a sadly familiar one, especially in regards to geek culture today. Which is, the foreseen target audience of Superman at the time consisted of young boys, and with the start of the space race old stories of gangsters and mad scientists were phased out in exchange for ones about aliens, fantasy creatures, and the stereotypical Silver Age nonsense.

So while Lois was introduced as a superhero genre homage to Nellie Bly, her role quickly devolved into wanting to marry Superman, by any means necessary. This included trickery, an ongoing feud with Clark's childhood friend Lana Lang, etc. etc. Which when combined with the weird authoritarian behaviour of Silver Age Superman... things got weird really fast.


As comics moved from the Sixties into the Seventies and the perception of women changed, Lois began to slowly become more like her original Siegel and Schuster self, being less concerned with discovering Clark's secret identity and once again getting her own comic to investigate and capture bad guys (the Superman Family). By the 1980s and the John Byrne reboot in the form of his Superman: Man of Steel comic, we at least ended up with the form of Lois which is so familiar today.

Albeit considerably less... errr... "Eighties" as time progressed, naturally.


So yeah, what caused Lois to gain a reputation for being a kind of shallow woman with an obsession for Superman? Marketing and changing attitudes to women. Not really the political kind of stuff responsible for Catwoman's temporary disappearance from comics (short expanation: she by her nature defied the CCA by making crime look cool etc.), but still... interesting in its own right.

It is curious how Lois started out as being progressive for the time she was first created, much like how Superman was first created as a positive force for change by his creators (fighting slumlords, domestic abusers, gangsters, war profiteers etc.), but as time progressed different agendas came into play which detracted from the creator's original intent.

Date: 2016-05-25 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] scorntx
That first page. Superman's gonna be needing a whole lotta ice after that burn.

Date: 2016-05-25 10:03 pm (UTC)
reveen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] reveen
audience of Superman at the time consisted of young boys, and with the start of the space race old stories of gangsters and mad scientists were phased out in exchange for ones about aliens, fantasy creatures, and the stereotypical Silver Age nonsense.


I think you're forgetting the part where the comics industry put itself under a self-imposed censorship regime in order to prevent public backlash that made a lot of crime and horror centred stories non-kosher. That parts important.

But the CAA didn't really say anything about the depiction of female characters. So Lois Lane regressing into a stereotype probably has more to do with the 50's conservative pushback against the somewhat more progressive attitudes in parts of America in the 30's and 40's.

It makes me wonder whether in ten years today's reactionary pushback will end up stymieing progress and pop culture will turn against strong female characters again. I'd like to think feminism has enough momentum to prevent that at this point, but you never know.

Date: 2016-05-26 12:03 am (UTC)
reveen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] reveen
It seems pretty simple to me (well, not really simple, the wartime years opened up a ton of positions for women in the workforce, which led to them taking on the habits of men in the workforce (public leisure after hours prime among them) and becoming more visible in different levels of society, leading to writers being cooler with giving women stronger roles in their stories.

Then WW2 ended, the US armed forces flooded back into the workforce, and the post-war boom led to market forces pushing the suburban lifestyle, which put the patriarchal household on a higher pedestal.

What happened to Lois reflects what happened to women in general during that time. "Okay, lady, you had your fun writing stories and solving mysteries! Now it's time to go out and find a husband!".
Edited Date: 2016-05-26 12:03 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-05-25 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] locuatico
I love that scene of Man of Steel Lois. those look like pretty heavy weights. Lois comment? hers are heavier.

Date: 2016-05-25 10:49 pm (UTC)
alicemacher: Lisa Winklemeyer from the webcomic Penny and Aggie, c2004-2011 G. Lagacé, T Campbell (Default)
From: [personal profile] alicemacher
That panel reminds me of the Hark! A Vagrant strip, 1980s Businesswoman Comics.

Date: 2016-05-25 11:06 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] locuatico
Yellow Diamond?

Date: 2016-05-25 10:40 pm (UTC)
bradygirl_12: (wonder woman (batb--bullets 'n' bracelet)
From: [personal profile] bradygirl_12
They made Wonder Woman's book into a romance comic after Dr. Wertham and the new Comics Code went into effect, messing up the carefully-crafted Diana/Steve relationshop that Marston envisioned.

Though Lois got stuck with chasing after Superman in the '50s, she still was a crack reporter and still went after the story even in those days.

She was quite the role model for girls in the '30s/'40s, tackling front-page stories when most women were relegated to the fashion/society pages.

Date: 2016-05-26 01:19 am (UTC)
alschroeder3: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alschroeder3
Exactly; she was modelled after Nellie Bly, and far more outspoken and fearless than many men of the time. Or perhaps--reckless rather than fearless, but she wasn't a meek would-be bride. She definitely wanted Superman, but she definitely wanted the story and wouldn't let anything get in her way--even if it meant lying or tricking rivals like Clark.

Date: 2016-05-26 05:03 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lego_joker
Ahh, Golden Age Lois. Whole different level of sociopathic-yet-charming ruthlessness, in her earliest stages. If I recall, she once asked Clark on a date and straight-up mickeyed his drink so she could beat him to a scoop.

The Lois Lane 75 Years TPB contains quite a few of her solo backup strips from the late '40s, and no lie, I think those contain my favorite Lois portrayal of all time. Tough enough to slap around gangsters, but still insecure enough to wear smoked glasses into a bakery.

Date: 2016-05-26 06:13 am (UTC)
zapbiffpow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zapbiffpow
"So yeah, that iconic Action Comics 1 cover? It's Superman totalling some jerks' car for being creepers to Lois."

I did not know that. That image of Lois lifting weights is weird, though. And not because it's pushing the 'strong and yet beautiful message' too hard - it's just kinda impractical to work up a sweat while wearing an evening dress. Not exactly the time, right?

Anyway, I've always thought that Lois Lane, Girl Reporter as a revived series was a good idea: a hardboiled crime monthly with marginal references/connection to the bigger superhero picture. Like Gotham Central, but with a bigger pool to cover.

Date: 2016-05-26 03:17 pm (UTC)
supermanda: (Lois ✥ and then i'd have to hurt you)
From: [personal profile] supermanda
I did not know that. That image of Lois lifting weights is weird, though. And not because it's pushing the 'strong and yet beautiful message' too hard - it's just kinda impractical to work up a sweat while wearing an evening dress. Not exactly the time, right?

lmfao thank you for pointing that out. I wasn't feeling it either, and I couldn't figure out why (not that I dug much into it).

Date: 2016-05-26 05:30 pm (UTC)
bruinsfan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bruinsfan
I think the implication is that Clark's wussy dumbells wouldn't make her break a sweat.

Date: 2016-05-26 03:13 pm (UTC)
supermanda: (Lois ✥ and then i'd have to hurt you)
From: [personal profile] supermanda
I feel like all of this could easily be slightly rewritten to apply to Smallville's Lois Lane

Erica in the early seasons was Lois Lane to me. But then it all just...went downhill. It became a sad, boring, redundant love song on repeat. It's really too bad.

This was a great post!

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