It’s easy to see how Cat Staggs and Amanda Deibert fell for each other, because we ended up nerd-crushing hard on the adorkable couple the minute we sat down to talk about their work as one of the creative teams behind DC’s new Wonder Woman series — Wonder Woman ’77.
As self-proclaimed super fans of the 1970s Wonder Woman television series starring Lynda Carter, Staggs and Deibert jumped at the chance to work with Marc Andreyko on the new print and digital series based on the iconic show.“It helps that my wife knew every scene and every episode,” jokes Staggs, a longtime illustrator for DC. “When they first announced the Batman ’66 [series], I remember telling my editors at DC, if you guys ever touch WonderWoman ’77, I want to be a part of that process, I don’t care what I have to do!”
Staggs’s enthusiasm for the project shows in her amazing imagery that really captures the mood of the old TV series, yet in a fresh, modern, female-empowering way (and the likeness of their Wonder Woman to Lynda Carter is uncanny). Deibert, a successful comedy writer for TV and web, who had recently also begun writing for DC, admits she was equally excited when asked to write some stories for Wonder Woman ‘77. “Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman from the ’70s? Uh, absolutely!” she says. “But the writer acknowledges feeling a little intimated too. “It’s like, oh yeah, the most iconic female superhero of all time, sure, no pressure.” But she says her attitude when sitting down to write was, “Let’s just do it and try to make a cool story and not think about the fact that everyone’s going to hate me if I ruin their childhood. I’m just basically writing episodes of the show that I would want to see.”
Deibert says another challenge was writing stories about a strong female character set in the 1970s. “With female empowerment being where it was at the time ... I wanted to acknowledge that things were progressing, but weren’t exactly great.”
But pulling Wonder Woman from the real constraints facing the ’70s TV show freed up Deibert in other areas. “I get to make choices like, the alien — the monster — can also be female, and that when she gets teamed up with a double agent, that can also be a female character, which probably wouldn’t have happened in the actual show.”
Though it seems natural that these two amazing talents would work together, Staggs and Deibert say they were a couple before they started collaborating professionally. The first thing they worked on together was the hilariously true-to-life web comic strip Hot Mess, for the women-centric comedy site Comediva. Deibert admits Hot Mess was “just embarrassing stories from my life. I was writing other stuff for them and I kind of pitched the collaboration. I was like, well, hey, I write funny stuff, and my wife is this extremely talented illustrator — we could probably put that together!”
Since then, the pair has worked on numerous projects together, including a story titled “Brave” in the Love Is Love book — a huge collaborative comic book project from which all proceeds go to survivors and the families of those who died in last year’s devastating mass shooting in Orlando. “It’s over 300 creators between writers and artists. Everything was donated — the paper, the artwork, the writing, the printing, so all proceeds go to the families and the victims,” says Staggs. Edited by two other gay comic icons — Marc Andreyko and Phil Jimenez — Love Is Love not only topped The New York Times’ Graphic Books Best Sellers list earlier this year, it is now in its fourth printing.
“We immediately wanted to be a part of it, both as a lesbian couple that both work in comics, and because I grew up just outside of Orlando, so for me, it felt a little extra personal,” says Deibert. “For us, it was never a question of would we want to be involved.”
Deibert and Staggs have several exciting collaborations lined up. “We’re doing some more comic stuff, like John Carpenter’s Tales for Halloween Night,” says Deibert. “I’m also doing a story that Cat’s illustrating, in the anthology, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls [Volume Two]. That’s a cool one because it’s all love and sex and romance, but it’s all true, they’re all autobiographical.”
“A very deeply nerdy child who read books all the time,” Deibert feels a special connection to geek culture. The story she is writing for Geek Girls “is about my coming-out process and how it ended up getting entwined with me being a fan of Harry Potter in kind of a weird way.”
These days Staggs and Deibert truly seem to be living their dreams, and their successes in their respective fields serve as wonderful inspiration for their latest collaboration, motherhood. Deibert says that she is more determined than ever “ to make sure that we’re creating more gay content, so that [our daughter] can see representations of her own family as she grows up. Because I still think that we are so underrepresented.”