Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On History: Lois Lane, Girl Reporter

Back in late 1943, newspapers debuted the rarely discussed comic strip, Lois Lane, Girl Reporter. It was a direct spin-off of the Superman strip running at the time.

Evidently, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who were working on the Superman strip in addition to their comic book work, were having difficulty keeping up with the ongoing syndicate deadlines. This was probably partially exasperated by them working through DC instead of with the syndicate itself. Regardless, the McClure Newspaper Syndicate started growing increasingly concerned that newspapers were going to cancel the popular character's strip if it couldn't appear regularly and on time. Since McClure had already, for all intents and purposes, farmed out the strip's editing to DC instead of keeping it in house as they normally would, they went back to DC to demand a way to get a more reliable source of content.

Where the exact idea came from seems to be unclear, but DC basically went behind Siegel's and Shuster's backs to create a "topper" comic strip spin-off. It was essentially filler material, not directly related to the main Superman storyline but still somewhat tied to the Superman universe. So when Siegel and Shuster were running behind, a topper strip could be dropped in to cut some of the slack. These were done at no additional cost to the newspapers, of course, but I'm certain they were a pain point for both McClure and DC.

The strips originally ran sporadically between October 24, 1943 to February 27, 1944. As far as I can tell, only twelve were produced and the only paper I've been able to confirm ran all of them was Cleveland's Plain Dealer. Despite the credits, the art appears to be (at least primarily) by Wayne Boring.

2 comments:

Matt K said...

Mostly filler material, certainly… but that "cellophane 8-ball" strip was a corker. A novel punchline, plus the visualizations of Lois's outrage leading up to it were rather amusing, themselves.

Brad Ricca said...

Great stuff! Love the "Mr. Ellsworth."