Cat Staggs is an up-and-coming artist to keep your eye on. She’s worked on projects for Lucasfilm in the past few years, and you’ve seen her breathtaking covers for Smallville Season 11.
We had the chance to chat with Staggs about her earliest memories of comics, her favorite part about working in comics, and how she came to work on her newest project — the four-issue Phantom Lady miniseries.
TFAW.com: What are your earliest memories of comics? What was the first comic you read?
Cat Staggs: My earliest memory of comics were actually storytelling records that I got when I was five . . . Batman and Superman records that came with the comic for you to read along. I absolutely wore them out listening to them over and over and obsessing over the art. I still have them, actually.
TFAW.com: What inspired you to become an artist, and when did you first begin to explore that creative outlet?
Staggs: I don’t remember ever not drawing. I think I may have been born with a pencil in my hand and luckily for me, my parents were always very encouraging. (And my mom survived birthing a pencil-wielding infant unscathed.)
TFAW.com: How did you break into the comics industry?
Staggs: I started going to conventions with my little portfolio and passed it around, and I was fortunate enough to get an email asking if I wanted to work on sketch cards for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. That led to me doing more work for Lucasfilm, which then led to other work with other companies.
My real “pinch me” moment where I thought, “Oh my god, this is really happening,” was very recently, the press release for my first Smallville cover for DC. Even though I had done the cover four months earlier, seeing the press release online finally made it feel real. It was overwhelming.
TFAW.com: How has your experience been as a female in the industry?
Staggs: I really haven’t had any problems with it. I’ve never lost any jobs for having boobs. The only thing that has ever happened that made me feel any different as a “female creator” have been the few times that someone has told me, “You don’t draw like a woman,” and meant it as a compliment. I still don’t understand what that means.
TFAW.com: What’s your favorite part of telling stories in the sequential arts?
Staggs: I love getting to depict more than just a standard pin-up shot. It’s so much fun to get to play with an entire spectrum of emotions and actions in order to tell a story. Getting to be part of the storytelling process is so much fun. It’s great to be able to even show the “mundane” things that as an artist you normally wouldn’t draw, but then to be able to go through the entire spectrum, from shots of cityscapes to action-packed sequences, is thrilling.
TFAW.com: What do you think comic book publishers should be doing or have been doing to attract female readers?
Staggs: Well, there is always, tell good stories . . . which is true for attracting any readers. I actually think that a lot of female readers are already there and they need to remember to acknowledge that they exist. I don’t mean by special catering, we don’t necessarily need more flowers and rainbows and unicorns, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but a lot of women like superhero books and action books.
TFAW.com: What aspect of comics have you struggled with, as a creator?
Staggs: I think that the hardest part is getting in the door, convincing someone to give you a shot is always difficult.
TFAW.com: What advice can you give aspiring comic book creators?
Staggs: If you are an illustrator, my advice is: anatomy, anatomy, anatomy. And for everyone else, just keep plugging away. A bit of rejection shouldn’t be enough to stop you. You will only get better with hard work.
TFAW.com: Who’s work has had an influence in your art?
Staggs: Norman Rockwell, Drew Struzen, Neil Adams, Alex Ross, Sean Phillips, Bernie Wrightson, oh God I could go on forever, there are a zillion people . . . even Keith Herring and Michelangelo . . . I’d better just stop now.
TFAW.com: Who’s one woman in comics that you admire?
TFAW.com: What was the last comic you read?
TFAW.com: Can you tell us about your creative process for this book?
Staggs: Well, Cully Hammer designed the costumes and did an amazing job. There were a lot of emails back and forth about the look and the costumes, and then came the fun part, which was me getting to take all of that and incorporate it into the storytelling.
TFAW.com: What projects do you have coming up soon?
Staggs: For now, Smallville covers and Phantom Lady issues are the main things I am working on. I also have artwork in the new, Star Trek Federation: The first 150 Years that comes out in November and I am doing a print for Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando at the end of August.
Our thanks to Cat for taking the time out of her busy schedule to chat with us about her experience in the comic book industry. Be sure to keep your eye out for her artwork on the covers of Smallville Season 11 and in the interiors of Phantom Lady.
Looking forward to Phantom Lady #1? Good news — the first issue hits on August 29th. Post your comments below!