Wonder Woman has left an indelible mark on many of us. Whether we read her comics as kids, saw that infamous Ms. cover, or grew up watching Lynda Carter become Diana Prince on television, Wonder Woman's strength, independence, and optimism has made her a iconic superheroine for over 70 years.
Now imagine being a Wonder Woman fan who gets to actually write her story. Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs are two lucky comics fans. The pair have teamed up to create a one-off story for new DC Comics series Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, which launched this month. Deibert is a usually TV comedy writer who also dove into the comic world with her work for an all-women comics anthology called Womanthology. Staggs, meanwhile, is an artist for DC Comics where she illustrates covers and interiors for comics like Smallville, The Vampire Diaries, and Phantom Lady. They have worked together before on a web comic, Hot Mess, which was based on crazy stories from Deibert’s life which Staggs illustrated.
Their Wonder Woman chapter will be in the digital edition of Issue One of the new series, alongside a chapter written by Gail Simone, a writer well known in the comic world for her work on Wonder Woman. The issue hits comic stores on August 20th and Deibert and Staggs’ digital chapter will be released on August 27th.
I sat down with Deibert and Staggs at the DC Comics office to discuss working on their Wonder Woman issue and the lasting appeal of everyone’s favorite superheroine.
Listen to this interview or read it below:
KERENSA CADENAS: How did you guys get attached with this project?
AMANDA DEIBERT: Cat got contacted first. She’s been working with DC on several different things and her editor contacted her and asked if she’d love to be involved.
CAT STAGGS: I was like, wait what?! Really? Wonder Woman? Sweet! She asked if I thought that Amanda might be down for writing one. And I was like “Hm, gee, Amanda would you feel like writing a Wonder Woman story?”
DEIBERT: And I was like “Ah no that sounds terrible.” [laughs] And I was like yes, I would like to write the most iconic superheroine of all time, sure! There’s some room in my schedule to absolutely do that.” It’s a dream come true scenario. Everybody who is remotely interested in comic books, I would say wants to work on a Wonder Woman story. It’s an amazing thing to be able to do.
From what I’ve read, the issues are going to be standalone stories, what is your issue focusing on?
DEIBERT: You’re right! The cool thing about it is that each creative team gets to do whatever their dream story of Wonder Woman is—so it doesn’t have a specific continuity, it can be from any time period, it can be any villains, any world—any way that you want to present your vision of Wonder Woman, which makes it super exciting. Ours is set in modern day but not necessarily within the current The New 52 version. It’s not in it but it’s its own standalone story. The cool thing with our story, without giving too much away, is that we have Wonder Woman coming up against one of her more iconic adversaries who is also a female villain, so it’s fun thing where you’ve got these two powerful women colliding which is a super fun thing to write.
STAGGS: Super fun to draw, too.
DEIBERT: There’s a lot of cool action sequences with that. We’ve got some magic going on. Then there is ultimately a surprise twist. The story is really about being true to yourself and standing up for yourself and being ok with who you are no matter what society or other people tell you, which to me is such a big part of what Wonder Woman represents. Wonder Woman is who she is and she’s very comfortable with that.
As you mentioned, Wonder Woman is such an icon and especially for young women and girls growing up. Do both of you have personal connections to Wonder Woman?
STAGGS: I got into it through the Lynda Carter television show and Saturday morning Super Friends and then comics came in after that. My mother was the comic influence in my household, she grew up reading Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman when she was a kid, so they were shoved under my face from a very early age.
DEIBERT: For me growing up, pop culture characters were used to help train me. There were princesses and Wonder Woman to learn my table manners or anything else my family wanted to instill in me. It was always those kinds of things that were used as role models and examples. While the princesses were fine, it was more interesting to me to want to be more like Wonder Woman because she’s strong and she’s powerful and empowered. Not that there’s anything wrong with a princess and in a way Wonder Woman is a princess. She was always a part of being a role model to look up to growing up, which was really cool. I felt like because I had dark hair and blue eyes that she looked like me, so I was like Wonder Woman, in my little kid logic.
You mentioned watching Lynda Carter on television—how does the issue that you created together show the evolution of Wonder Woman from its origins to present day. How do you think Wonder Woman has evolved and how does your work fit into that canon?
DEIBERT: I think what’s amazing about Wonder Woman is that she’s been around since the ‘40s and is still really current and totally relevant in pop culture and has always been through her many incarnations. I think that speaks so much to what an amazing character she is because each generation has adapted her into representing womankind for that generation. And that’s always worked since she’s such an amazing character and has been so true to her ideals. I think in our story, it’s a modern day Wonder Woman and then it plays into Wonder Woman as an icon, as a role model. It’s very much Wonder Woman fighting and defending the community but also defending the ideal of what she means to each generation of kids coming along which I think is really amazing. All the different incarnations, of course there are different ones that you might connect with more, but there’s enough that there’s something for everybody with her.
Wonder Woman’s identity is so tied up in feminist politics. Looking back to the iconic Ms. cover, does feminism and having a feminist identity play into your issue and work on Wonder Woman?
DEIBERT I would say yes. The message in our particular story is definitely one about equality. It’s definitely about being true to yourself and not worrying about what other people or society thinks about you which I think has an underlying message that certainly applies to women and an inequality that still exists today. She is an iconic character for a reason and I think that anyone who works with her or around her is going to be influenced by that. Always.
Cat, could you talk a bit in terms of the artwork side of doing this issue. What angle did you come at it from?
STAGGS: When drawing superheroes, I imagine them as athletes, so I usually try to focus on the athletic body type that coincides with said superhero for example The Flash is a runner, so I imagine him as a long, lean guy with broad shoulders. But for Wonder Woman, she’s essentially Superman while she’s not a linebacker like Batman would be she’s going to be powerful, strong and a little bit on the lean side too. I always try and make sure I give her the kind of power and for lack of a better word, weight, in a panel to express the kind of hero she actually is. That’s my biggest challenge to myself is that each time I draw her I want to make sure I’m getting all the points I want to get across in the artwork.
Both of you have a lot of previous experience in comics, how is it working as women in a field that is pretty male dominated?
DEIBERT: I’m kind of accustomed to it because my day job is working for comedy writing in television which is almost totally dudes. It’s very rare to work in another scenario where there’s another female writer even one other female writer. I’m very accustomed to that. In the comics world, well this book in particular, there was my artist Cat, my editor Kristy, and we’re coming out in issue number one where the other writer is Gail Simone, not only a woman but one of the most known Wonder Woman writers of all time and she’s amazing. This experience was particularly full of women. Our letterer was also a woman. I think on our particular chapter the only male was our colorist who did beautiful work as well. This was a lot of women which was great.
STAGGS: I almost feel bad saying that I haven’t experienced anything bad. I haven’t. And I always feel bad when I’m on a Women in Comics panel and everyone is going to start telling their horror stories and I don’t have any.
DEIBERT: You’ve had a couple fans come up to your table at conventions who were surprised that you were a woman.
STAGGS: I’ve had people come up and ask when the artist would be back while I’m drawing a picture at a convention in front of my own banner. I’ve had that but that’s about it.
Amanda, you mentioned that you picked your favorite villain for the issue. Do either of you have a favorite Wonder Woman moment, an episode of the show or a comic that’s one of your favorites?
DEIBERT: I’m a big fan of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run. It’s amazing to me to be working on this character that I love and then being in a book with the writer who created the version of the character that I most love. That’s been a pinch me, awesome situation.
STAGGS: I am obsessed with the Wonder Woman series. It’s a regular rotation in my studio because unlike a writer I don’t have to concentrate on words so I put on shows and stuff that I’ve seen. I know the series by heart. That for me is my big thing. Although I’m waiting patiently for Warner Bros. to put out the Super Friends collection all in one big set. The Lynda Carter series is probably one of my favorite things ever.
Related Listening: Our podcast episode on the evolution of Wonder Woman explores her history and origin story.
Kerensa Cadenas is a writer and feminist living in Los Angeles.