'The Mystery of the Atom World' (Wonder Woman #21, January 1947), art by Harry G. Peter.

Joye Hummel (Joye Murchison Kelly after being married) was an American female comic 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. Joye Hummel appears to be the first woman ever commissioned to write scripts for a superhero comic.

Early life and comics writing
Joye Hummel was born in 1924 on Long Island, near New York City. In 1943, she was a student in psychology at Katherine Gibbs School in Manhattan, when she first met professor William Moulton Marston. Marston enjoyed success as the creator of the superhero comic 'Wonder Woman' (1941), 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, scripted by Marston and drawn by Peter. 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, November 1946), art by H.G. Peter.

Main scriptwriter
How far Hummel's creative involvement went is still an open question. Many of her early narratives appear to have been dictated by William Moulton Marston, who treated her as his secretary. She seems to have merely written down his suggestions and then shaped 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 started working for Marston, he 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, she was de facto the franchise's main scriptwriter.

Wonder Woman, written by Joye Hummel
'Villainy Incorporated' (Wonder Woman #28, April 1948), art by H.G. Peter.

Later years and death
After Marston's death in 1947, Hummel seemingly went into early retirement. From 'Wonder Woman' issue #29 on, Robert Kanigher took over her job. She later married David W. Murchison, then remarried with Jack Kelly, which explains why she is nowadays identified as Joye Hummel Murchison Kelly. For decades, her contributions to 'Wonder Woman' 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 and contributions became publicized. In her final years, she enjoyed some moderate media attention and recognition among comic book fans, which increased once the 'Wonder Woman' film (2017) became a global blockbuster. In 2014, Hummel donated her personal archives regarding 'Wonder Woman' to the Smithsonian Institution, now housed in the Dibner Library. In 2021, shortly after her 97th birthday, Joye Hummel passed away.

While Joye 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 scriptwriter 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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