Exclusive Interview: Tim Hanley Author of "Investigating Lois Lane"

The History and Future of Lois Lane

Lois Lane is the longest running female character in comic books and has become the most beloved female reporter in comic book history. She's the woman that Superman fell in love with and millions of fans have fallen in love with her too. But what's happened to her over the years? She's appeared in every Superman movie and hundreds of comics, but how much do you really know about her? What will her future be like?

Recently the author of the critically-acclaimed book Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporteragreed to talk about Lois Lane, her turbulent history and the future of the intrepid female reporter.

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How Would You Describe Your Latest Book?

Photo of Tim Hanley and Lois Lane
Tim Hanley and Lois Lane. DC Comics\Tim Hanley

Investigating Lois Lane is a history of Lois from her debut in 1938 all the way to the present day. It covers her decades of comic book appearances, along with all of the television shows, cartoons, movies, radio shows, and other media she was featured in. The book traces the evolution of the character over time through her fictional adventures, but also offers a look behind the scenes at her various creators and how they approached the character, as well as the contemporary societal influences on each depiction of Lois.

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What Led You To Write About Lois Lane?

Still of Lois Lane from Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel (2013) - Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Warner Bros

I wrote about Lois sporadically throughout Wonder Woman Unbound, using her as a sort of "woman on the street" comparison to the superpowered Wonder Woman, so I got to sample some of her iconic stories from her first few decades in comics. I loved what I read; she was a fascinating character from the very start, relentlessly ambitious and brave in an era when very few women were written like that, but she was often limited by the cultural expectations of the time. I was intrigued by the tension of that dynamic, which carries on throughout her history.
Lois is also a fantastic window into the history of superheroes as a whole. She was there in Action Comics #1 when the superhero genre began, and has been a constant presence in the world of superheroes ever since, across all media. As both a female character in a male-dominated industry and a character who's been through all of the ups and downs of the comic book industry, examining her past offers a unique perspective on the genre.

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Do People Identify With Lois Lane From The Popular Show Of The Time?

Publicity still from "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (1995)
"Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (1995) Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher) and Superman (Dean Cain). Warner Bros. ABC

I don't know if I would say that people identify with the "most popular interpretation" of the time, but rather the one that they grew up with. In my mind, Lois Lane is a combination of Teri Hatcher on Lois & Clark and Dana Delany's take on Lois from Superman: The Animated Series. Those were the ones I watched when I was a kid, and it formed how I see the character. Plus I wasn't really reading Superman comics then (I was more into Archies at that age!), so television was my entry point to the character.

What you like as a kid can get cemented in your brain, and it's kind of a bummer that we may be in the middle of a generation without an accessible Lois. She's barely been in the comics as of late, plus kids don't read a lot of mainline superhero comics anyway. Smallville is over, there hasn't been a Superman cartoon for a while, and kids really shouldn't be seeing Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. If you're 7 or 8 years old, even if you like superheroes, chances are you don't know much about Lois Lane. It's a real shame.

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Will Lois Lane Ever Truly Be Seen As More Than "Superman's Girlfriend"?

Comic panel of Action Comics #1
Lois Lane in Action Comics #1. DC Comics

I think that Lois has become enough of an icon that she escapes the "Superman's girlfriend" label a bit. If you asked random people on the street what they know about Lois Lane, the first thing they'd probably say is that she's Superman's girlfriend, but the next thing would be that she's a reporter. She's THE definitive female journalist in pop culture, so that allows her to get away from her romantic association with Superman somewhat. Nonetheless, the romance is a defining trait, for sure. Even with Superman's Wonder Woman relationship, everyone was waiting for it to wrap up so he could go back to Lois. Few people seemed to take it seriously. Lois and Superman are too iconic a pairing.

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What Is Lois Lane's Most Endearing Trait?

Comic book panel from "Man of Steel" by John Byrne
Clark Kent and Lois Lane on a date. DC Comics

I think it's her relentlessness. It's a trait that's defined nearly every incarnation of the character. Even against the greatest odds, Lois is always going full tilt after what she wants, whether it's moving up from the lovelorn column to the front page in the Golden Age, trying to land Superman during her marriage-obsessed years in the Silver Age, or taking down Lex Luthor via investigative reporting in the Modern Age. She goes non-stop after what she wants and what she believes in, never reticent or hesitant, and you can't help but cheer for her.

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Did You Intend To Make People Angry With the Mistreatment of Lois' Character?

Cover of Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #63 (1966)
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #63 (1966) by Kurt Schaffenberger. DC Comics

That wasn't my intention, no. My intention was to tell Lois's history in a compelling way that does justice to what a great and fascinating character she's been throughout the decades. But that history does come with some cringeworthy moments and unpleasant writing, art, and editorial decisions, and I think anger and frustration is certainly justified. Especially since the comic book industry has such a bad track record with female characters; seeing all of the trends therein laid out via Lois's history, with past poor treatment repeated again and again, can make you mad. Even more so when you realize that the comics are still doing a lot of the same today.

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So, What's Coming Up Next For You?

Cover of Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporter
Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporter. Chicago Review Press

A lot of things that I can't announce yet, so I'll have to be vague! I've got another book in the works, focusing on a villain this time, so keeps your eyes peeled for news on that. Along with that, I've got several different research projects on the go, one for a potential fourth book and a couple for pieces that may appear in some book collections; one is Wonder Woman adjacent, another is about female readership of superhero comic books throughout history. So yeah, a lot of fun things, none of which I can be specific about yet!

Pick up "Investigating Lois Lane"

Make sure you pick up a copy of his book Investigating Lois Lane today!