By Stefania Rudd. In the nearly eighty years since her inception, Lois Lane has leapt out of the comics page and appeared in radio, film, video games and novels with the same brio as her caped would-be paramour — but never quite like this.
Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane series (from publisher Switch Press) has explored the character in a way that has sadly been overlooked for 78 years. With her most recent book, Fallout, Bond explores Lois Lane’s formative years acclimating to the fast-paced nature of Metropolis, but what’s more, she takes time to ask the more pertinent questions about the character we only thought we knew. What makes Lois Lane tick? What gives her that trademark tenacity? How did she win that darn Pulitzer anyway?
Bond wants to know these things too. “It’s odd, isn’t it?” the self-identified comics nerd asks. “To me, Lois is a superhero in her own right, but we almost always meet her fully formed, Pulitzer in hand. She’s never had a truly filled-in origin story.” With her Lois Lane novels, all of that is changing. And there’s nary a Man of Steel to be found.
DoomRocket’s Stefania Rudd had a chance to speak with Gwenda Bond about Lois Lane, her station in the bigger scheme of the Superman mythos, and what, exactly, are the prospects of Lois Lane 3.
DoomRocket: Both ‘Fallout’ and ‘Double Down’ are very accessible books for teens and adults who may only know the basics of the Superman story. What attracted you most about this project and getting it to a wider audience?
Gwenda Bond: I’ve always loved Lois Lane and Superman/Clark Kent — their characters and their relationship, the ensemble nature of the comics, and this mythos’ sensibility of ultimately being optimistic about humanity. And, of course, Lois Lane has been around just as long as Superman, but we’ve never really gotten to see her solo origin story. So it’s a tremendous honor to get to do that, give her that showcase, and also just to get to write these characters I love so much. My goal has always been to make the books feel like a gift to existing fans and welcoming to new ones.
DR: One thing I love about having a comic book universe come to a format like the YA novel is that we get to have so much of the world and the characters flushed out and expanded. How much of the original canon did you feel you needed to use and how did you make it your own? What makes this version of Lois Lane stand out?
GB: To me, the one thing that novels can do that no other form does in quite the same way is show us the interior of a character. We get to be inside Lois’s head in a way that we never have been before. As far as canon, I tried to keep the elements that are present when the characters are at their best, and let go of the ones that pop up in lesser incarnations. As a writer, Lois is tremendous fun — she creates story. I always joke that you could put Lois in a room with nothing, bored, and she’d create a story. I’m a comics nerd and I’m also married to a comics nerd (he’s way more hardcore about it than I!), so I definitely do try to put in small touches for those of us who will notice them. But I’m always balancing that with not making any reader feel they have to get those references or be left out. Something like the calf named after Nellie Bly, for example, is obviously referring back to Lois’s character creation story, but I hope is also just fun as well. And I want Metropolis to feel like a character, because setting is very important to me, so I have a little role-playing game guide to the city from many years ago that I use for my reference maps.
DR: In the world of Superman, audiences mainly know Lois as an adult. How did you even begin to develop her younger self? Who is she to you before we meet her as Clark Kent’s colleague and rival?
GB: It’s odd, isn’t it? To me, Lois is a superhero in her own right, but we almost always meet her fully formed, Pulitzer in hand. She’s never had a truly filled-in origin story. Honestly, this was freeing in many ways for me. I had a wide canvas to work with. But I knew I wanted to keep her Army brat background and all of her major character traits. I also wanted her to be figuring out who she is, more vulnerable than the Lois we know as an adult. And I wanted her in Metropolis, and to be one of the first people beginning to figure out there are unusual things beginning to happen in the world as young Clark Kent is out there starting to test his powers.
DR: You’ve done a great job of making the elusive SmallvilleGuy a part of Lois’ life, but not allowing him to completely dominate her time, which could be easy to do. How do you find the right balance between her main storyline (the case she is trying to solve) and then the secondary storyline with SmallvilleGuy?
GB: I think a lot about this when I’m outlining up front. I’ve come to feel, though, that there’s a reason we all feel we already like Lois Lane so well. And that’s because she’s never had trouble commanding attention when she’s opposite Clark/Superman or, in this case, SmallvilleGuy. Ideally, they can explore things in their scenes together that they can’t with any other person on earth. But Lois isn’t the kind to just sit around chatting all day (and neither is SG!), so that tends to keep the action moving. If someone’s in trouble, Lois is always going to try to help them.
DR: One aspect I’ve really enjoyed is the family life at the Lane home. It feels very real and relatable. How much of her family, especially the ones we are familiar with (like her sister, Lucy, and father, Sam), did you feel you needed to bring into the stories?
GB: I love writing family dynamics, so it wasn’t so much a question of feeling I had to as wanting to write them. I love writing Lucy, General Lane and Ella. I feel like I’m lucky in that I get to show a side we don’t often see of the General, him before he becomes the somewhat twisted character we usually see him as. I feel like this is partly an origin story for how he gets there too — what he and Lois saw that night in Kansas changed the way both of them see the world, and their reactions to that are ultimately vastly different.
DR: The original characters make up a fantastic supporting cast for Lois. Are any of them based off of yourself or people in your life?
GB: Thank you so much! I’m so glad you like them. Not really — I knew I wanted Lois to have her own ensemble, a Scooby gang of her own, so to speak. Maddy is definitely someone I’d have loved to be friends with (as are Devin and James) when I was a teen. Of the characters in the book, Lois is probably the one I have the most similarities with. Some of the colorful “permanent record” stories of hers are based off my own childhood and teen years.
DR: Of all the made up bands Maddy has created, which one would you like to see perform? (For me, it’s Nervous Takedown.)
GB: Ha! You don’t even know how much fun I have coming up with those. I think I have a file somewhere of just rejected pun band names. I’m going with Dangerous Ladies, which my editor actually suggested putting in because it was the name of an author tour I did with four of my favorite, well, dangerous ladies.
DR: I appreciate that you’ve given us a new way of viewing Lois Lane with this window into her formative years. Are there any other comic book-based characters you’d like to explore through their younger years?
GB: Oh, definitely! I’d love to write Batgirl or a story in the Batverse at some point, and I would LOVE to do a young Zatanna comic.
DR: What’s next for you? Will Lois be getting a third book in this series (fingers crossed)?
GB: The very next thing for me is the second novel set in my Cirque American world, which comes out in July — it’s called Girl in the Shadows and is about an 18-year-old girl who desperately wants to be a famous escape artist, but then learns she can do real magic. And, simultaneous with that, there’s a comic miniseries called Girl Over Paris that will start coming out (four issues, then collected this fall), which is a standalone Cirque American story featuring the characters from the first book, and which I got to work with Kate Leth and Ming Doyle — it’s just been a dream. As for Lois 3, I could tell you, but then someone might kill me — I will share news as soon as I am able to.
DR: Thank you, Gwenda, so much!
GB: Thanks so much for the interview!
‘Lois Lane: Fallout’ is available on Amazon and bookstores everywhere.