Posts Tagged ‘Joye Murchison’

Joye Murchison Kelly and Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk to be Honoured with Bill Finger Award

June 14, 2018


This is very, very cool. Two of the most important women in the early history of Wonder Woman are going to receive the Bill Finger Award at San Diego Comic-Con this summer. Joye Murchison Kelly was a ghost writer for William Moulton Marston in the early 1940s, while Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk was an assistant editor on the original Wonder Woman comics and later returned to DC for a fascinating run editing Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane. Heidi MacDonald has a full report at The Beat, and you can read more on the official Comic-Con page.

The Bill Finger Awards honour comic book creators who have not received proper credit for their work and contributions to the industry. Bill Finger was famously screwed over by Bob Kane and DC. He did most of the work creating Batman, but Kane took all the credit. The awards were created by Finger’s friend Jerry Robinson in 2005, and 28 creators have won it since. Kelly and Woolfolk are the first women to do so.

I’ve written about both of these women in my books Wonder Woman Unbound and Investigating Lois Lane, and I’m absolutely delighted that they’re sharing this award. Both women are compelling and important figures in the history of the genre, and their work has been overlooked for decades.

In Kelly’s case, it’s because she was never credited. Marston hired her as a writing assistant in 1944, and she was soon writing full issues by herself as Marston’s health began to fail. Everything was still credited to “Charles Moulton,” Marston’s penname, in the comics, and Kelly’s contributions were long forgotten until DC’s Wonder Woman Archives line gave her due credit many decades later.

Kelly wrote several classic Wonder Woman stories featuring some of her most well known villains, including Dr. Psycho, the Cheetah, Dr. Poison, and more. She also continued Marston’s themes of female strength and power extremely faithfully, including Marston’s preoccupation with bondage imagery (it was a metaphor, but it had its limits). Perhaps most notably, Kelly coined Wonder Woman’s famous catchphrase “Suffering Sappho!” It had ancient Greek roots, of course, but was also a subtle nod to what the Amazons were actually getting up to on Paradise Island.

Woolfolk was an assistant editor on Kelly’s comics back when she was just Dorothy Roubicek. She worked for All-American publisher Max Gaines and was the first female editor at DC Comics, making sure that all the books came out on time. And when critics objected to Marston’s bondage fixation, Woolfolk was tasked with coming up with ways to tone things down. Marston didn’t listen to any of them, but it speaks to Gaines’ high opinion of her that she was his go-to gal on matters concerning his bestselling comic.

(Some sources suggest that Woolfolk wrote a few early Wonder Woman stories, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. She’s not credited as a writer in any of the Archives collections, which are painstakingly thorough).

Woolfolk worked for other publishers for a while, then married writer Bill Woolfolk and took a break from publishing when she had her kids. She returned to DC in the early 1970s as a full editor and revitalized the publisher’s romance line with fresh, relevant stories. Because of her success there, she was given control over Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, and she brought the same modern, feminist sensibility to everyone’s favourite reporter. In her first issue, Lois dumped Superman and quit her job at the Daily Planet because she was sick of men telling her what to do. This feminist revolution was short-lived, though. The men in DC’s offices didn’t take kindly to having a woman around, and Woolfolk was unceremoniously ousted a few months later. You can read more about that in an excerpt from Investigating Lois Lane over at The Atlantic.

Both women are absolutely fascinating figures in comic book history, and this award is very much deserved. Kelly is 90 years old now, and will be in San Diego to accept the award. Woolfolk passed away in 2000, but her daughter will be there to accept the award on her behalf. This recognition is long overdue, but I’m so happy it’s here. Wonder Woman wouldn’t be the same without Kelly or Woolfolk, and I hope the award encourages fans and comic book historians alike to dig into their great work.


Go Vote For The Top 50 Female Comic Writers And Artists Of All Time At Comic Book Resources!

March 3, 2015


On Sunday, Kelly Thompson’s latest “She Has No Head!” article on Comic Book Resources launched a massive new project. She is compiling “the most complete and exhaustive list of women creators possible”, and currently has 1,100 female writers and artists on an ever-growing list. It is impressively thorough.

Thompson has created the list for two reasons. First, to serve as a comprehensive, constantly evolving document that will keep track of the many female creators who have, do, and will work in comics. Second, Thompson is teaming up with Brian Cronin to hold a massive poll to find the Top 50 female comic writer and artists of all time, and the list will serve as a handy resource for putting together a ballot.

A while back, Comic Book Resources did a poll to determine the Top 50 comic writers and artists of all time generally, and only two women made the list: Fiona Staples and Gail Simone. Thus women accounted for only 2% of the entire list. This new poll is way to highlight and celebrate the many female creators who work in comics currently, and who have worked in comics over the decades.

You should absolutely go vote for your Top 10 female writers and artists, and follow the instructions in the link. You get to pick 10 of each, and you need to rank them from one to ten; your top pick will get ten points, your bottom pick will get one, and then all the points will be tabulated and we’ll have a giant list of awesome female creators.

There are all kinds of great modern female creators to choose from, but if you’re looking to be historically representative, let me recommend voting for Joye Murchison in the writing category. Murchison wrote many Golden Age Wonder Woman stories when William Moulton Marston’s illnesses slowed down his writing output, though she went uncredited at the time. Her influence on the early years of Wonder Woman is substantial, and it would be great to see her recognized on a list like this. Another fun choice is Alice Marble, who wrote the “Wonder Women of History” feature for the first 16 issues of Wonder Woman, spotlighting a different famous woman in a four page story in each issue.

You have until March 16 to vote, so that gives you a bit of time to decide your ballot. I keep going back and forth on mine. There are so many great creators to choose from! Kelly Sue DeConnick is a lock. Marjane Satrapi for sure. Murchison and Marble, obviously. I might vote for Kate Beaton in both categories because she’s just that epic. Plus how do I weigh new creators against older, established creators with a bigger body of work? It’s not just who I love now, but I who I love ALL TIME. It’s a lot to think about! But so much fun.

My Guest Post On DC Women Kicking Ass: The Women Behind Wonder Woman

June 20, 2012

Sue of DC Women Kicking Ass is on vacation this week, and I got to write a guest post!!  It was a HUGE honour because it’s one of my favourite sites, and I had a fun time writing about the women behind Wonder Woman in the 1940s.  I talk about Elizabeth Marston, Olive Byrne, Alice Marble, Dorothy Roubicek, Joye Murchison, Helen Schpens, AND Louise Marston.  They all played varied and interesting roles behind the scenes of Wonder Woman and Sensation Comics.  So go check it out, along with all of the other great guest posts that have gone up this week!!

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