Lois Lane’s Feminist Revolution


By the autumn of 1972, Woolfolk was gone not only from that book but from the entire romance line as well. Robert Kanigher, a regular writer on Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane with editorial experience on a variety of DC books stepped in to take over the series. Woolfolk had also been set to helm the upcoming relaunch of Wonder Woman, which would restore the heroine’s superpowers and Amazon heritage: In the spring of 1972, Ms. magazine’s celebration of Wonder Woman in their debut issue mentioned Woolfolk by name, cheering her appointment as the book’s “first woman editor” and praising her “plans to decrease violence in the plots and return our heroine to the feminism of her birth.” But when the Amazonian Wonder Woman returned in January 1973, Kanigher was editing that series too.

According to DC Comics’ editor in chief, Carmine Infantino, he fired Woolfolk. He said of her time editing the romance line, “That was a bomb. She was awful. She was always late. She did a lot of talking but no work. After a point, I had to get rid of her.” He specifically recalled, “I tried her, and every couple of months, no books, no books, no books.” But the facts don’t support his claims. All of Woolfolk’s romance books came out each month, on schedule, and she also successfully transitioned several titles from six or eight issues a year to monthly series when she took over the line.

In a letter to Gloria Steinem written soon after her dismissal from DC, Woolfolk jokingly described herself as “a woman in her 50s victimized by male chauvinism and making it on her own.” Many of her peers had little respect for her; according to Alan Kupperberg, who worked with Woolfolk, the other editors “always snickered at her behind her back” and called her names like “Ding-a-ling,” “Wolfgang,” “Dotty Dorothy,” and much worse. Kupperberg specifically singled out Infantino as one of the men who thought poorly of her.

They also looked down on Woolfolk because she edited the romance line, which was considered to be at the very bottom of the barrel in the company’s publishing hierarchy. Moreover, her approach to editing was unconventional. Instead of hiring the same old creators, Woolfolk actively sought out new, young writers and artists for her books who didn’t mesh well with many of the older men writing, drawing, and editing most of DC’s titles. Infantino and his crew were certainly more modern than the series’s former editor Mort Weisinger, but they were in no way young and hip. Woolfolk’s supposed lateness was clearly a pretense for her firing, and the real reason she was let go probably had more to do with her take-charge, staunchly feminist attitude not sitting well with the old boys’ club that ran DC.

Her departure was entirely unceremonious. When a letter in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane complained about a recent story, new editor Robert Kanigher brusquely replied, “Both the writer of, and the editor who bought ‘Serpent in Paradise’ are no longer in Eden.” Kanigher gave Woolfolk an even crueler sendoff in Wonder Woman: The first issue of the rebranded series began with a sniper killing “Dottie Cottonman, woman’s magazine editor.”

DC swiftly excised all of Woolfolk’s feminist additions. The book’s writers and artists remained the same after her departure, but their stories reverted to the series’ previous status quo, and any mention of the women’s liberation movement disappeared. The assistant editor Deborah Anderson was gone from the book’s masthead just a few months after Woolfolk left, and she departed the romance titles she worked on as well. It was almost as if Woolfolk had never been there.

From: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/03/lois-lane-dorothy-woolfolk/472959/

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