Last October, Supergirl flew onto the small screen as joyous young hero headlined her own, self-titled CBS television series. Now, DC Comics‘ digital first “Adventures of Supergirl” comic brings readers additional tales set in the world of TV’s Kara Danvers.
Joining veteran “Supergirl” writer Sterling Gates on the series is artist Cat Staggs, a DC veteran who designed and illustrated the Supergirl character for “Smallville Season 11,” another DC Digital release that told stories set in that show’s continuity.
Staggs is not only illustrating covers for “Adventures of Supergirl,” she’s also drawing a chapter, joining artists Bengal, Jonboy Meyers, Emanuela Lupacchino, and Emma Viecelli on the series. And while she’s happy to be drawing the young hero once again, Staggs tells CBR News, this time, it’s a different character, and different experience.
You obviously have some history with Supergirl, but that was a very different take on the character.
Cat Staggs: I worked on “Smallville Season 11” with Bryan Q. Miller when he did the Legion [of Super-Heroes] storyline. I got to design the costume for Supergirl. which was a very pinch-me moment. And I did all the covers for “Smallville.” That was really cool.
How did drawing Supergirl for the “Smallville” comic differ from how you’re drawing her now?
Besides different actors and different costumes, I think the Supergirl now is much more fun, more lighthearted. “Smallville” was more serious. I enjoy a little humor and stuff. It’s a fun challenge for me drawing, trying to convey emotions that way.
She’s still got her serious action-adventures, and there’s some really touching stuff that Sterling has written. He’s really captured the essence of the show and bringing in what he brought to Supergirl before. [He’s] got a lot of heart in his writing.
Is there anything that carried over from your prior experience that’s been useful to you here?
Not really. It’s a different animal.
Are there any unique challenges in illustrating from a likeness as opposed to illustrating a character on your own? Is that extra work for you?
It’s not really anything extra for me — it’s something I’ve always done. Ever since I was a kid, I was drawing people I saw in magazines and on TV. It’s not an extra challenge. I’ve always been very good at drawing people, anyway. The challenge, for me, is more in conveying emotions.
Supergirl’s a fairly emotional character, though generally a happy one. What emotions will we see her display in your story?
Well, the first one was just an act of utter joy, like the character has on the show. She genuinely enjoys being a superhero. The second one, that one was more of frustration. I didn’t have all of the details of the chapter to work from, but it seemed like a frustrating situation that she was put in. I’m working on one now that’s coming across as more scared or nervous, but still trying to be strong. The subtler, the harder.
Supergirl’s been around for decades, with a lot of stories, media and artwork featuring her available to fans. Is there anything from the character’s history that you’ve found particularly useful or inspiring in how you’re portraying the character?
Not so much with the history. I read her stuff when I was a child, and I only recently, in the last six or seven years, started reading her again, off and on. So there isn’t a lot of her history I’m familiar with. I mean, if I can pull of an homage on one of these things, that would be fun, but it’s not something I’m striving to do. I think this particular version of the character has her own unique quality that I get to play with.
While you’re handling some story pages, you’re known mainly for your covers — are there any cover artists that you’ve found particularly inspiring?
Yeah. How long do we have? I’m a huge Alex Toth fan.
Cover design is a particular and specialized task in comics. What goes into making a good cover, in general?
Besides the basics of composition, and the instant grab, I like story-driven covers better than pinups. If you can give people a great story in one image, you’ve done your job.