The Inspirations for Lois Lane

Two Cleveland women helped inspire Lois Lane, the tough reporter who swooned over Superman but disdained his secret alter ego, Clark Kent.

“As a high school student,” Siegel said in 1983, “I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn’t know I existed or didn’t care I existed.” One classmate he admired from afar, but never spoke to, was Lois Amster. Ricca has discovered two lovelorn poems Siegel appears to have written about Amster and published in the school paper under a pen name.

Hollywood also helped inspire Lois Lane’s personality. The spitfire character who holds her own with men was common in 1930s films.

To help create the image of their heroine, Siegel and Shuster answered a Plain Dealer classified ad that read “Artist Model: No Experience.” (Ricca is the first Superman historian to find the ad.) The model, teenager Jolan Kovacs, came to Shuster’s home,

where Siegel excitedly explained Superman’s story, and Shuster sketched her likeness. “To me,” Shuster once said, “she was Lois Lane.” Siegel and Shuster met Kovacs again a decade later in New York City, while she was working as an artist’s model. She and Siegel started dating, and they married in 1948.

Created, like Superman, out of fantasy, pop culture influences and real life, Lois Lane is Superman’s obsession, muse, professional colleague and rival. Smart, savvy and social, she’s an expert reporter who can beat Clark Kent to stories. “I think she’s the most positive female character in comics,” Ricca says. “She’s one of the main reasons Superman has lasted so long — because anyone can have a strong guy. She’s the girl you can’t get, but you try to endlessly impress.”

Lois Lane’s look has changed radically over the years, following women’s fashions. This figurine recreates Lois’ look in the 1950s, comics’ Silver Age, when she still resembled Shuster’s early version of her.

Beth Segal
Jolan Kovacs (shown here on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., around 1938), was an early model for Lois Lane. She later worked as an artist's model under the name Joanne Carter, and she took the name Joanne Siegel after she married Jerry Siegel in 1948.
Courtesy Fantagrahpics, Nemo: The Classic Comics Libaray
Siegel and Lois Amster both graduated from Glenville High in 1934. He’s the likely author of poems about her in the Glenville Torch: “She scarcely ever looks at me, I worship every glance, If only she would talk to me I’d do a jubilant dance.”
Courtesy Glenville High School Library
Lois Lane’s sharp, sultry eyes in this early pencil sketch recall 1930s film actresses. Shuster first published this sketch in a Canadian fanzine in 1972. Superman fans have often compared it to the photo of Jerry Siegel’s future wife (above left) and debated whether they see Kovacs in the early Lois.
Courtesy Fantagrahpics, Nemo: The Classic Comics Libaray
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