By Richard Degenais
The same polygamist psychologist who invented the polygraph, or lie detector, created Wonder Woman. Perhaps Dr. Moulton Marston had been inspired to create the superhero by one, or more, of the women in his life.
In his Stamp Talks this April, Royal Philatelic Society of Canada (RPSC) member Derwin Mak speculates at length that Marston was influenced by the women in his life.
Mak explains that the mother of a student who Marston married, Ethel Byrne, was a suffragette and co-founder of the first birth control clinic in the United States. Not only that, the same student’s aunt, Margaret Sanger, was a nurse, suffragette, feminist, and founder of Planned Parenthood.
While stamps were issued to commemorate the 19th Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote, a 1972 stamp originally meant to honor Margaret Sanger was eventually released as a generic stamp commemorating Family Planning after encountering resistance from the Roman Catholic church.
After noticing the emergence of comic books, Marston enlisted the talents of Harry G. Peter to help design his superhero. From 1941 until his death in 1947, Marston wrote Wonder Woman stories under the pen name, Charles Moulton.
Wonder Woman first appeared in comics as part of a group of super heroes and was then featured on the cover of her own story for Sensation Comics, released by DC Comics in 1941.
Today, as Mak points out, Wonder Woman makes up a third of DC’s big three, along with Batman and Superman.
When comic books began losing readers in the ‘60s, writers and artists stripped Wonder Woman of her superpowers and made her into a super spy, along the lines of James Bond, The Avengers, and other popular sleuths of the time.
Feminist Gloria Steinem wrote an editorial for Ms. Magazine, lamenting the loss of Wonder Woman’s powers and, by 1973, the superhero had regained her super strengths.