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.”