Joye Hummel, the first woman writer hired to write Wonder Woman comics, has died at the age of 97.
Wonder Woman’s creator, psychologist William Moulton Marston, approached Hummel in the mid-1940s, in search of a young writer who could help shape his vision for the character in a series of comic books and a syndicated strip with an audience of millions, The Washington Post reports. Hummel, who was in secretarial school at the time, accepted and would go on to work as an uncredited ghostwriter for the series for three years.
Hummel, along with Marston’s wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and partner Olive Byrne, helped hone the feminist legacy of Wonder Woman. After Hummel was hired, Byrne gave her a copy of Planned Parenthood founder (and Byrne’s own aunt) Margaret Sanger’s book Woman and the New Race. “He wanted those who read ‘Wonder Woman’ to be inspired, that the young women who read the stories would be inspired to study and enter the world and have confidence they could accomplish things,” she said in 2018.
Hummel wrote more than 70 scripts for the Wonder Woman series; in 2018 she received the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing at Comic-Con’s Eisner Awards, after decades without proper recognition for her role in the series. “I called her up and said, ‘Are you the Joye Hummel who wrote Wonder Woman in the 1940s?’” historian Jill Lepore, who interviewed Hummel for her 2014 book on the history of Wonder Woman, told the Post. “She nearly dropped the receiver — she was delighted but surprised. It was a story she had told her grandchildren, but they didn’t believe her.”