Before Jessica Jones. Before Batgirl and Black Widow. Heck, even before Wonder Woman, there was Lois Lane — a Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster prequel to female superheroes who followed. So as Kent State University and the Cleveland Public Library celebrate Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary with a symposium on comics, pop culture and feminism Sept. 22-24, we talked to Laura Siegel Larson, daughter of the Superman co-creator, about her mother Joanne’s influence on the character. Larson leads a discussion 2 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Cleveland library.
Q. How did your mother influence Lois Lane?
A. She was pretty fearless and independent. She wanted to do great things in the world. My dad was very inspired by that and decided to give Lois Lane some guts, to make her very adventurous and competitive with Clark Kent.
Q. How did Lois act as Superman’s counterpart?
A. Lois is similar in some ways to female superheroes who followed, because she had these qualities of strength. You could believe that someone who was as magnificent as Superman was drawn to her. Even though she didn’t have super strength, she was the Earth version of the qualities of goodness that kept Superman grounded and kept him remembering and realizing why he loved human beings.
Q. How have women’s roles evolved in the comic industry?
A. Characters like Wonder Woman and Supergirl were ahead of their time. That was kind of the dream of women who were aspiring to be powerful and to be able to hold their own against male villains, to have the strength and be able to handle them on their own. When you depict their normal everyday life, that’s where the change occurs, not the amazing super feats they’re accomplishing.