Women Hired to Write at DC Comics: A History

Here’s a timeline I’ve wanted to put together for a long time, so I’m finally taking the time to do it while I recover from oral surgery (and as my column, “ASK… THE QUESTION,” takes a one week hiatus). This is as complete of an accounting as I can manage of every time a woman has been hired for their first job at DC Comics. Many of these writers have gone on to do much more work at DC, and others have not; but that first assignment is an all important step at establishing a working relationship and reaching out to women in the industry. This also demonstrates, year by year, just how many female writers get their first shots at writing for DC. Inevitably, there must be a few names I missed going through 85 years of history, so if you see anyone I’ve left out, please let me know. Links provided where possible.

1935:
Emma C. McKean (NEW COMICS, “Sister and Brother”; “Sara Lou Sunshine”)
Rosemary Volk (NEW COMICS, “It’s a Dern Lie”)

1936:
Merna Gamble (NEW COMICS, “A Tale of Two Cities”)

1937:
None

1938:
None

1939:
None

1940:
Evelyn Gaines (ALL-STAR COMICS #3-5, “Johnny Thunder”)

1941:
None

1942:
Alice Marble (WONDER WOMAN #1-19, “Wonder Women of History”)

1943:
Ruth Lyons Kaufman (ADVENTURE COMICS #84, “Shining Knight”)

1944:
None

1945:
Joye Hummel (WONDER WOMAN #12-20)

1946:
None

1947:
None

1948:
None

1949:
None

1950:
None

1951:
Natalie Krigstein (GIRLS’ ROMANCES)

1952:
None

1953:
Leigh Brackett (DETECTIVE COMICS #198)

1954:
None

1955:
None

1956:
None

1957:
None

1958:
None

1959:
None

1960:
None

1961:
None

1962:
None

1963:
None

1964:
None

1965:
None

1966:
Barbara Friedlander (SWING WITH SCOOTER)

1967:
None

1968:
None

1969:
None

1970:
None

1971:
Maxene Fabe (THE DARK MANSION OF FORBIDDEN LOVE #2)
Mary Skrenes (HOUSE OF SECRETS #92, “It’s Better to Give”)

1972:
Mary DeZuniga (THE SINISTER HOUSE OF SECRET LOVE #4)
Dorothy Manning (THE DARK MANSION OF FORBIDDEN LOVE #4)
Irene Vartanoff (SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE #120)

1973:
None

1974:
Vin Amendola (DETECTIVE COMICS #439)

1975:
None

1976:
Laurie Rozakis (DETECTIVE COMICS #464, “Black Canary”)

1977:
Elizabeth Smith (ACTION COMICS #475, “The Weak Link”)

1978:
Catherine B. Andrews (DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE #4)
Carla Conway (CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE #2, “Vixen”)
Joyce Katz (DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE #3)

1979:
None

1980:
Laurie S. Sutton (SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #24, “Nightfeast”)

1981:
Tamsyn O’Flynn (GHOSTS #102, “The Truth According to Nina”)
Sharon Wright (WARLORD #52-71)

1982:
Sarah Gregory (THE UNEXPECTED #220, “Santa Claus is a Killer”)
Barbara Randall Kesel (DETECTIVE COMICS #518-519, “Batgirl”)
Dann Thomas (ARAK: SON OF THUNDER)

1983:
Leslie Newman (SUPERMAN III MOVIE SPECIAL)

1984:
Jan Duursema (ARION, LORD OF ATLANTIS #22)
Randy Lofficier (FIRESTORM #32)
Mindy Newell (NEW TALENT SHOWCASE #8, “Jenesis: Starting Over”)

1985:
Carol Lay (CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW: THE OZ-WONDERLAND WAR)

1986:
Mary Bierbaum (ELVIRA’S HOUSE OF MYSTERY #6)
Diane Duane (STAR TREK)
Trina Robbins (THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN)
Barbara Slade (ANGEL LOVE)

1987:
Jo Duffy (BATMAN #413)

1988:
Cherie Wilkerson (ACTION COMICS #627-634, “Nightwing & Speedy”)
Kim Yale (MANHUNTER)

1989:
Sarah Byam (GREEN ARROW ANNUAL #2, “Do Black Canaries Sing?”)

1990:
None

1991:
Maddie Blaustein (DRAGONLANCE #30-32)
Nancy A. Collins (SWAMP THING ANNUAL #6)
Louise Simonson (DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #4)

1992:
None

1993:
Kim Fryer (JUSTICE LEAGUE QUARTERLY #12, “On the Road”)
Elaine Lee (RAGMAN: CRY OF THE DEAD)
Ann Nocenti (KID ETERNITY)
Marifran O’Neil (SUPERMAN & BATMAN MAGAZINE)
Rachel Pollack (DOOM PATROL #64-87)
Judith Reeves-Stevens (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION #51)

1994:
Jacqueline Ching (ICON #12)

1995:
Dana Kurtin (ANIMANIACS)
Deborah Pomerantz (SHOWCASE '95 #4, “Catwoman: Fear No Man”)
Bronwyn Carlton Taggart (THE BIG BOOK OF DEATH)

1996:
Devin Grayson (BATMAN PLUS ARSENAL)
Jennifer Moore (ANIMANIACS)

1997:
Hilary J. Bader (THE BATMAN AND ROBIN ADVENTURES ANNUAL #2)
Caitlín R. Kiernan (THE DREAMING #17-60)
Ruth Morrison (WONDER WOMAN #120, “Gateway to Boston”)

1998:
Sarah Dyer (SUPERMAN ADVENTURES)
Lisa Klink (THE BATMAN CHRONICLES #14)
Joanna Sandsmark (WONDER WOMAN: SECRET FILES AND ORIGINS #1)
Hilarie Staton (SCOOBY-DOO #16)

1999:
Janet Harvey (BATMAN #569)
Marguerite Van Cook (HEARTTHROBS #3, “Sleeping Beauty”)

2000:
Jen Van Meter (BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #12)

2001:
Abby Denson (POWERPUFF GIRLS)
Amy Keating Rogers (POWERPUFF GIRLS)
Jill Thompson (THE LITTLE ENDLESS STORYBOOK)

2002:
Leah Moore (TOM STRONG’S TERRIFIC TALES #5, “King Solomon Pines”)

2003:
Fiona Kai (THUNDERCATS: HAMMERHAND’S REVENGE)
Gail Simone (BIRDS OF PREY #56-108)

2004:
Diana Schultz (SOLO #1, “Young Love”)

2005:
Laura Allred (SOLO #7, “An Hour with Hourman”)
Christine Boylan (SUPERMAN: SERCRET FILES AND ORIGINS 2005, “Bizarro: Birthwrong”)
Christina Weir (TEEN TITANS/OUTSIDERS SECRET FILES 2005, “Secrets”)
Christina Z (POWERPUFF GIRLS #63)

2006:
Denise Mina (HELLBLAZER #216-228)
Lilah Sturges (JACK OF FABLES)
Amy Wolfram (TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE)

2007:
Cecil Castellucci (THE PLAIN JANES)
Jodi Picoult (WONDER WOMAN #6-10)
Kristy Quinn (FREDDY VS. JASON VS. ASH #3)
G. Willow Wilson (OUTSIDERS: FIVE OF A KIND - AQUAMAN/METAMORPHO)

2008:
Rebecca Dessertine (SUPERNATURAL: RISING SON)
Ivory Madison (HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE)
Mandy McMurray (DC UNIVERSE HOLIDAY SPECIAL, “An Angel Told Me”)
Grace Randolph (JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #41)
Mariko Tamaki (EMIKO SUPERSTAR)

2009:
Angela Robinson (THE WEB)
Ariel Thomas (DC UNIVERSE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL '09, “Our Father’s Sins”)

2010:
Amanda Conner (WONDER WOMAN #600, “Fuzzy Logic”)
Sean Catherine Derek (HERO FACTORY)

2011:
Lauren Beukes (STRANGE ADVENTURES, “All the Pretty Ponies”)
Holly Black (A FLIGHT OF ANGELS)
Ross Campbell (STRANGE ADVENTURES, “The Life and Death of Ace Arn Refuse”)
Kelly Sue DeConnick (SUPERGIRL #65-67)
Mary Halpern-Graser (BATMAN: ARKHAM UNHINGED)
Talia Hershewe (STRANGE ADVENTURES, “The White Room”)
Inverna Lockpez (CUBA: MY REVOLUTION)
Jennifer Skelly (BATMAN 80-PAGE GIANT 2011, “Unspoken”)
Karen Traviss (GEARS OF WAR #17-24)

2012:
Ming Doyle (MYSTERY IN SPACE, “Asleep to See You”)
Christy Marx (SWORD OF SORCERY)
Nnedi Okorafor (MYSTERY IN SPACE, “The Elgort”)
Beth Schwartz (ARROW)

2013:
Marguerite Bennett (BATMAN ANNUAL #2)
Lana Cho (ARROW)
Nicole Dubuc (THE FLASH ANNUAL #2, “Details”)
Mariah Huehner (THE WITCHING HOUR, “Rise”)
Moira Kirkland (ARROW)
Caitlin Kittredge (COFFIN HILL)
Wendy Mericle (ARROW)
Annie Mok (THE WITCHING HOUR, “This Witch’s Work”)
Katherine Walczak (ARROW)
Maris Wicks (BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE #1, “Justice is Served”)

2014:
Georgia Ball (SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU?)
Corinna Bechko (SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #16-17)
Lauren Certo & Kai Yu Wu (THE FLASH: SEASON ZERO)
Bobbie Chase (THE VAMPIRE DIARIES)
Colleen Doran (THE VAMPIRE DIARIES)
Meredith Finch (WONDER WOMAN #36-52)
Jody Houser (VERTIGO QUARTERLY: MAGENTA, “Adrift”)
Ana Koehler & Cris Peter (VERTIGO QUARTERLY: CYAN, “Rebolt”)
Heather Nuhfer (THE VAMPIRE DIARIES)
Kate Perkins (SUPERGIRL #36-40)
Genevieve Valentine (CATWOMAN)

2015:
Joy Ang, Vera Brosgol (GOTHAM ACADEMY: ENDGAME)
Becky Cloonan (GOTHAM ACADEMY)
Renae De Liz (THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN)
Brooke Eikmeier (THE FLASH: SEASON ZERO)
Joëlle Jones (NEW TALENT SHOWCASE #1, “Harley Quinn”)
Hope Larson (VERTIGO QUARTERLY: SFX #1, “Ray’s Bachelor Party”)
Carla Speed McNeil (SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #39)
Chrissie Zullo (FABLES #149, “The Last Story of Briar Rose”)

2016:
Jordie Bellaire (VERTIGO QUARTERLY: SFX #4, “Mary”)
Julie & Shawna Benson (BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY)
Mingjue Helen Chen (GOTHAM ACADEMY #15, “Hammin’ Around”)
Chynna Clugston (LUMBERJANES/GOTHAM ACADEMY)
Shea Fontana (DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: FINALS CRISIS)
Emma Needell (VERTIGO QUARTERLY: SFX #4, “Bang For Your Buck”)
Samantha Shannon (VERTIGO QUARTERLY: SFX #4, “Message From Yonder”)
Sarah Vaughn (DEADMAN: DARK MANSION OF FORBIDDEN LOVE)

2017:
Magdalene Visaggio (SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL#4, “Real Life”)

2018:
Sanya Anwar (NEW TALENT SHOWCASE 2018, “Constantine: Neon Demons”)
Cheryl Lynn Eaton (BATMAN SECRET FILES #1, “One”)
Nalo Hopkinson (HOUSE OF WHISPERS)
Kat Howard (BOOKS OF MAGIC)
Zoë Quinn (GODDESS MODE)
Mairghread Scott (YOUNG MONSTERS IN LOVE, “Buried on Sunday”)

2019:
Kami Garcia (TEEN TITANS: RAVEN)
N.K. Jemisin (FAR SECTOR)
Lauren Myracle (UNDER THE MOON: A CATWOMAN TALE)
Danielle Paige (MERA: TIDEBREAKER)
Andrea Shea (MYSTERIES OF LOVE IN SPACE, “Crushed”)
Carmen Maria Machado (THE LOW, LOW WOODS)

2020:
Dani (HARLEY QUINN: BLACK + WHITE + RED #10)
Liz Erickson (DC’S CRIMES OF PASSION, “Catwoman: Can’t Buy Me Love”)
Laura Marks (DAPHNE BYRNE)
Blake Northcott (CATWOMAN #23-24)
Stephanie Phillips (DC’S CRIMES OF PASSION, “Wildcat: Pulling Punches”)
Amy Reeder (AMETHYST)
Paula Sevenbergen (CATWOMAN #22)

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It’s worth noting that many of these women, especially between the '40s and '90s, were either uncredited ghostwriters or co-wrote with a male writer, usually their husband. Getting into writing comics is tough business, and if you’re a woman, it’s historically been twenty times harder. I hope we’re moving that needle.

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The Leigh Brackett, she who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back? “Impressive, most impressive.”

Hope you’re recovering well, @HubCityQuestion! :+1:t2:

leaves a Baskin Robbins (the home of 32 flavors) gift card out, for when the time comes

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The Baskin Robbins that was around the corner from me for 25 years closed down this year :frowning:

Damn you, COVID!

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In other times, I’d say “Blame the aglets.” but, yeah…

throws a chair through COVID’s window

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Leigh Brackett is only credited for one story for DC, “The Lord of Batmanor!” It first appeared in Detective #198, but was reprinted in 1961’s Batman Annual #2. Like many of DC’s early female writers, she is co-credited with her husband, in this case Edmond Hamilton – writer of hundreds of Silver Age stories. Though she’s credited on “Lord of Batmanor,” who can say for sure how many other Edmond Hamilton comics she had a hand in?

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@Vroom
It is worth noting that that Leigh Brackett was an established sci-fi writer by the time she wrote that draft of Empire. An interesting fact nonetheless, though.

@HubCityQuestion
Great list! Nothing else just wanted to say that this is really cool!

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Indeed she was, @Batwing52. Empire’s always what comes to mind first, since that’s where I discovered her.

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HCQ’s version of a “break” :rofl: :wink:
Would you consider adding someone like Karen Berger to this, or strictly writers?

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All writers, for the purpose of this exercise! Getting work as a writer and getting work as an editor, I’ve learned, are two VERY different career pathways. (Though once you’ve made it into one, it’s an easier transition to do the other.)

And yeah… you knew I was this way when you met me. Intense DC research is just my default mode. :stuck_out_tongue:

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How many of these started off at Marvel?

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Carol Lay started writing at Marvel in 1977, 8 years before DC.
Trina Robbins started writing at Marvel in 1981, 5 years before DC.
Jo Duffy started writing at Marvel in 1978, 9 years before DC.
Maddie Blaustein started writing at Marvel in 1985, 6 years before DC.
Louise Simonson started writing at Marvel in 1980, 11 years before DC.
Elaine Lee started writing at Marvel in 1984, 9 years before DC.
Ann Nocenti started writing at Marvel in 1981, 12 years before DC.
Judith Reeves-Stevens started writing at Marvel in 1990, 3 years before DC.
Jen Van Meter started writing at Marvel in 1993, 7 years before DC.
Gail Simone started writing at Marvel in 2001, 2 years before DC.
Christina Weir started writing at Marvel in 2003, 2 years before DC.
Christina Z started writing at Marvel in 1997, 8 years before DC.
Amanda Conner started writing at Marvel in 2001, 9 years before DC.
Kelly Sue DeConnick started writing at Marvel in 2010, 1 year before DC.
Ming Doyle started writing at Marvel in 2010, 1 year before DC.
Christy Marx started writing at Marvel in 1979, 33 years before DC.
Corinna Bechko started writing at Marvel in 2011, 3 years before DC.
Bobbie Chase started writing at Marvel in 1987, 27 years before DC.
Cris Peter started writing at Marvel in 2010, 4 years before DC.
Becky Cloonan started writing at Marvel in 2010, 5 years before DC.
Carla Speed McNeil started writing at Marvel in 2010, 5 years before DC.
Mairghread Scott started writing at Marvel in 2015, 3 years before DC
Amy Reeder started writing at Marvel in 2015, 5 years before DC.

That’s 23 out of 165, or just under 14%. Honestly, lower than I expected!

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Thanks

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Is this the same Ruth Lyons that worked for WLW? o.O Just curious.

Nope, different Ruth Lyons. The radio broadcaster was never a Kaufman.

While almost certainly true, Roz was never specifically hired by DC to be a writer. That’s an important official step here.