Cat and Amanda Deibert Staggs are a married couple working in comic books. Nearing on their 10-year anniversary, the Staggss say their recent collaboration in Love is Love is their most important ever - aside from their daughter, of course.
Fans will know Cat Staggs from her extensive cover and interior work at DC Comics on Smallville, Adventures of Supergirl, and Wonder Woman '77. In addition to that, she's also been a regular artist used by Lucasfilm for Star Wars merchandise since 2004.
Amanda Deibert Staggs is a comedy and late night writer, having done work on Take Part Live, OWN Tonight for the Oprah Winfrey Network, and with former Vice President Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project's 24 Hours of Reality. In addition to that, Amanda has written several stories Cat has drawn for anthologies such as John Carpenter's Tales for a HalloweeNight, and Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman.
Newsarama caught up with the duo last month at Orlando's MegaCon, and talked about their Love is Love story, working together with your spouse, their past projects, and their hopes for future collaborations.
Newsarama: Cat, Amanda, for those unfamiliar you are a married couple working in comic books. I'm curious on how did you meet and come together?
Cat Staggs: We actually met online, but not on a dating site, it was a pop culture site and Amanda was in a web series on there and we just met through that.
Amanda Deibert Staggs: Yeah, then we started talking casually and then we became friends, then we Myspace friended each other because it was that long ago. Then eventually Facebook friended each other and then we just kept talking. That moved to talking on the phone and that led to talking in person and then dating, and then getting married and having a kid.
Cat: Having that one over there. [Points to their daughter, Viv]
Nrama: Yeah you guys were even featured in a Target commercial a while back. How did that happen?
Amanda: We knew the casting director who was looking for expecting families and I was expecting at the time. So they had us do a little audition and selected us and it was really cool. We got to talk about how we wanted to design a nursery and we didn't even know if it was going to be a boy or girl, so we got to talk about our hopes and dreams and it was really cool.
Cat: That was a lot of fun. I'm not used to being on that side of the camera so it was a little nerve-wracking but it was a lot of fun. I'm glad we did it.
Nrama: You have a story in the Love Is Love anthology. Can you talk about the collaboration process this time around because this isn't your first time working together, right?
Cat: Right, we did a web comic for a couple of years called Hot Mess which was mostly Amanda’s stories of her day-to-day life. So we did that and then we did Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman.
Amanda: Then we did John Carpenter's Tales For A HalloweeNight Volume 2 and 3 together and then this little collaboration [nods at Viv, who was playing in her lap].
Nrama: Yeah, that’s the most important one. So, let’s talk about the importance of Love Is Love for you, not just as out creators, but also as a married couple and what the comics medium can do when it comes together like this.
Amanda: For me personally, I grew up in Mount Dora which is about 45 minutes away from here which is hilariously named since there are no mountains in Florida. As a gay teen, I was definitely coming to Orlando trying to sneak into gay clubs and it was very much a part of my coming out. I had friends who used to work at Pulse. So for me, it was a scary time for me and my loved ones. They were some of the lucky ones, but it still hit very close to home for me personally. Not just as a lesbian, but as a lesbian who grew up here. It was extra impactful. It was very lovely to do a story with my wife as we're both out and we're both comic creators we made something together as two people who love each other and understand each other. It's why I chose to do a story that deals with the children of victims and families involved because we’re lesbian parents and there’s kinship in that.
Cat: I always enjoy working with Amanda because we have this shorthand that's really fun to work with. This project had an incredible…[pauses] I actually had a hard time drawing it. I weld up several times and had to stop just because of the content. It's overwhelming.
Amanda: It's the first time I cried writing something as well.
Cat: I felt proud of doing it. I would do it again, but I don't want to do it again. It's something we both really believed in. I was also very honored when they asked me to do the cover for the show. I struggled to come up with the concept, but the vigil seemed appropriate.
Nrama: What is it like working creatively together as a family? What is your dynamic really like?
Amanda: It's actually so much easier. I mean you probably want to hear how we're at each other's throats [laughs].
Nrama: No, not at all! You just don't have a lot of couples working together in mainstream comics. So I'm curious on how you give each other feedback.
Amanda: It's kind of great actually because with Cat I don't have to be as detailed. I know at this point we've almost been together for nine years and I know she knows what I mean when I write something. I also trust her interpretation of what I'm trying to write and how it's going to make me look better, which is a great position to be in as a writer.
I always let her read over everything before I submit it because if you’ve got notes, now we can send them over before we even send it to the editor. She can also show me pages and I can be obnoxious and nitpicky if I need to.
Cat: Yeah, it's really simple. I love it.
Nrama: Cat, you have a book coming out called Crosswind with Gail Simone from Image Comics. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Also, when you working with somebody like Gail. How does that differ from working with Amanda?
Cat: Well, it’s different because, as Amanda said, we have the shorthand that we work with because we’re in a relationship. So there's not that much questioning or trying to interpret what she means. Not to say that I question Gail with this, but this is our first project together. She is incredible though. She's like Amanda where she trusts me to get her interpretation of things. She just gives me a general description of stuff and then I'm a little more free to do whatever I want. Part of that I'm sure is because it’s an Image book and we're both in charge of what we're doing but yeah it's great. I'm lucky I get to work with both of them because they're both incredible in their own right. It’s treat for me as an artist to work with fantastic writers.
Nrama: Very little detail has been given about Crosswind, as it’s sort of a Freaky Friday sort of story. Is this like anything you’ve been done before?
Cat: No, nothing like I’ve done before and that's why I'm excited about it. I'm a huge fan of the crime genre so getting to do a story that’s a little bit like X-Files in that it's a crime story with a little bit of sci-fi twist and this huge exploration of the human condition. I don't get to do a lot of gory violent type stuff, so this was fun for me.
Nrama: Amanda, you’ve worked in TV and movies, and I think we’ve talked about you working on the set of Walk Hard as well. Do you have any other non-comic projects in the work now?
Amanda: I used to be an actress, I mean I do that sometimes still, but mostly right now I'm a TV writer. Mostly live, late night stuff when I'm not doing comic books and it's really fun. I love it.
Nrama: Do you prefer one medium over the other?
Amanda: I really love doing both.There's something satisfying about doing both. I think writing comic books is a little bit more fun. You don't have to worry about TV or movie budgets and there's something about writing something and then seeing beautiful art going along with it. Anytime I get to see pencils of something I'm working on I get giddy like it's Christmas. Obviously, I like artist a little bit...just enough to marry one.
Nrama: Lastly down the road do you see yourself working on something creator-owned for the two of you?
Amanda: I would love to! We have a few ideas so I think that's something definitely in the future for us. It just has to involve neither of us being so busy.
Cat: Same problem I had with Gail. We’ve been trying to work together for years, but our schedules never lined up, but at least Amanda and I live in the same house.