Thursday, March 10, 2011

Super Supporting Characters

For about a decade and a half spanning the early 70s to the mid 80s, Clark Kent worked not as a newspaper reporter, but as anchorman for WGBS-TV. WGBS was located in the same office tower as the Daily Planet, allowing Clark to stay in contact with his regular supporting cast, folks like Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White...and of course, Connie Hatch, "the Planet's PUZZLE EDITOR!"

Who knew the Daily Planet had a puzzle editor? I suppose it makes sense that a major metropolitan newspaper would have one, but it's still a little strange to see one playing a role in a comic book story. And yet, odd little details like this enhance the verisimilitude of even the most outlandish stories.

As seen here, Connie inadvertently manages to provide the insight Clark needs to solve Superman's current problem. I wonder if DC or Warner Brothers ever thought of partnering with Ideal to create an S-shield variant of the Rubik's Cube?

In the story excerpt above, Clark references his nominal boss, news director Josh Coyle. Coyle made many appearances in the 70s and 80s, but vanished after Superman's character - and the world he inhabits - was rebooted by John Byrne in 1986.

It's a shame, because I've always had a soft spot for the antacid-popping Coyle. Imagine trying to produce a nightly news show with an anchorman who always showed up at the last second, or who vanished during commercial breaks.

Of course, Coyle needn't have worried, since with Superman's speed, Clark Kent could always handle emergencies and anchor the news, virtually at the same time - but Coyle wasn't privy to Kent's dual identity. Poor Josh, needlessly plagued with ulcers, all thanks to Superman!

To my knowledge, neither Connie nor Josh were ever transformed into werewolves, kidnapped by Metallo, mind-controlled to do a villain's bidding or suffered any other of the various twists and turns of fates suffered by Superman's more famous supporting characters. They were just ordinary folks in an extraordinary world, grounding some pretty crazy stories with just a touch of reality. Comic books wouldn't be the same without them.


AllanX said...

I believe I was a supporting character in one of your comics.

Earl J. Woods said...

That's right! And a couple of short stories.