The Mystery of the Atom World (Wonder Woman #21), art by H.G. Peter

Joye Hummel (Joye Murchison Kelly after being married) was an American female comics writer, who ghost-wrote several 'Wonder Woman' stories between 1944 and 1947, when the original creator, William Moulton Marston, became terminally ill. She is historically important for being the first woman to pen stories for 'Wonder Woman', even though she didn't receive credit at the time. Hummel also wrote history by being the first woman in general to write scripts for a superhero comic.

Joye Hummel was born in 1924. She was a student in psychology at Katherine Gibbs School in Manhattan in 1943, when she first met professor William Moulton Marston. Marston enjoyed success as the creator of the superhero comic 'Wonder Woman' (1941), which was illustrated by Harry G. Peter. Only three years after her debut the character had become an overwhelming success. Apart from a comic book series she also appeared in a newspaper comic. Facing two deadlines at once Marston asked the 19-year old Joye to help him with the scripts. The only condition was that she would have to ghost-write them under his name. She accepted and their first stories appeared in 'Wonder Woman' issue #12 (Spring 1945). Apart from the comic books she also penned narratives for the newspaper spin-off.


The Rage of Redbeard (Wonder Woman #20), art by H.G. Peter

How far Hummel's creative involvement went is still an open question. Many of her early narratives appear to have been dictated by Marston, who treated her as his secretary. She seems to have merely written down his suggestions and then shape them into coherent scripts. Marston liked her work because her stories "were more innocent" than his, making them pass the censors more easily. This was particularly handy since the newspaper version had to tone down some of the zany imagery and frequent sexual innuendo of the original comic books. Yet in August 1944, only six months after she debuted, Marston was diagnosed with polio. The bed-ridden man still read through all her work personally and held final creative control. But as his health worsened Hummel relied more on her own creativity. By the time Marston passed away from skin cancer in 1947 Joye was de facto the franchise's main scriptwriter.

Wonder Woman, written by Joye Hummel
Villainy Incorporated (Wonder Woman #28), art by H.G. Peter.

Yet after his death she seemingly went into early retirement. From 'Wonder Woman' issue #29 on Robert Kanigher took over her job. She later married Robert Prosper Murchison, then remarried with Joyce B. Kelly, which explains why she is nowadays identified as Joye Hummel Murchison Kelly. For decades her contributions were unknown to the outside world. It wasn't until Jerry Bails launched his 'Who's Who of American Comic Books?' project (1973-1976) and DC Comics opened up its archives that her name was revealed. In 2014 Hummel donated her personal archives regarding 'Wonder Woman' to the Smithsonian Institution, where it is stored away in the Dibner Library. Today she lives in Winter Haven, Florida.

While Hummel's comics career may have been brief and in the shadow of another writer, she is still historically important. She was the first female scripwriter of 'Wonder Woman', more than 40 years before Dann Thomas and Mindy Newell officially and erroneously received credit for this historical feat. Other female writers of Wonder Woman who've come along since have been Trina Robbins, Coleen Doran, Gail Simone, Jodi Picoult and Meredith Finch.


Olive Byrne, Joye Hummel Murchison, Elizabeth Marston, William Marston

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