For legions of Wonder Woman fans, there will always be one woman who embodies the character: Lynda Carter. So it makes perfect sense that DC chose to let comic book art imitate TV life by pseudo-revamping the popular show Carter helmed via the digital-first series Wonder Woman '77.
The 70s saw a controversial run in Wonder Woman's publication, with many considering it her "lost decade." But Wonder Woman '77 has, in a sense, rewritten history, providing the type of gripping storylines befitting one of the most famous superheroes in the world. We spoke with writer Amanda Deibert about Seeing Stars, her latest chapter for Wonder Woman '77, and what it takes to write for a feminist icon.
You've written two other chapters for Wonder Woman '77. How is going back in time to the '70s different from when you wrote Wonder Woman for Sensation? What goes into writing the same character in different incarnations?
Amanda: Well, writing for Wonder Woman '77 is extremely fun because of that. There's something kind of cool having the parameters of doing a period piece, getting to write something that’s in the '70s and Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, which most of us are familiar with. And I loved the show … so it’s almost like to get to rewrite or write episodes for that show, only with a limitless budget and do things I would have liked to see on the show. I think the cool aspect to writing something that’s '70s-oriented is you have to do a lot of research and think about things that tie into the era that are specifically '70s storylines and something that you can do with that that maybe you can’t really do in the modern era.
You’re writing this period piece, and telling a story that mirrors being a woman working with NASA in the '70s and involved in the space program. Did any of what that was actually like for women in the '70s play a part in how you approached or wrote these chapters?
Amanda: I think it always does. My previous chapters in Wonder Woman '77, there was some more pointed, tongue-in-cheek sexist dialogue and Wonder Woman responding to it. It’s something you have to be aware of. But with this one, with the space race and the Cold War, I thought it would be fun to make a Cold War story set in the '70s but all the main characters are women. Diana Prince, the Russian double agent, and the alien antagonist are all female. Because we don’t get stories like that from that time period very often. We may have a lot of Cold War-era stories, but we don’t have a lot of stories that, say, my daughter can look at and identify with. So that was something that I thought would be fun.
The timing of these chapters are perfect especially since in the last few months we’ve had the Hidden Figures trailer drop , which is the story about the African-American women that were part of the space race and the book Rise of the Rocket Girls that also tells the stories of the women in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 50s. Plus there’s almost this feminist uprising that’s happening culturally, between women really speaking up about representation in media both as creators and characters, equal pay, and we have a woman Presidential nominee. So here you are writing for hands down one of the most famous feminist icons in pop culture. How do you approach that, especially with the knowledge that she is such an important character whose reach goes far beyond comic books?
Amanda: Well, first you have to stave off the inevitable panic that comes along with knowing how iconic a character she is. I mean, she’s been around for 75 years and -- no pressure! She is one of, if not the most, iconic female fictional characters of all time, possibly on the planet, but definitely in our country. So there is that moment where you think “Oh my god, this is Wonder Woman we’re talking about”. This is something that I grew up with, that my grandparents grew up with, and that my daughter- who’s one and a half and calls her her WohWoh - is growing up with. So I think the there’s so much history and so much you want to honor and pay homage to, and I always want to make sure that I’m being true to the things that I love about her as a character, from her strength to her honesty and integrity, which I think integrity plays such a big part in her character and who she is. So there’s a lot of self-imposed pressures, but it’s also so fun and so cool because it is a character we know so well, so you can kind of just dive in because everyone pretty much already knows her and who she is. It’s really fun to just write stories about a role model.
Considering how great of a character she is and one of DC's big three, through her publication history she’s had some pretty weak storylines or arcs. Some of them have been a bit hard for people to get into unless they were die-hard comic book fans. But it seems like now, the creative approach to her has been different and with the creation of Wonder Woman 77, it’s almost as if you get to go back in the history and give her a do-over. In doing that, especially with this series, do you get to say “hey here’s what I want to write about her doing?” or is that something that was already decided?
Amanda: I got to come up with the ideas. The great thing about Wonder Woman '77 is they’re all stand-alone episodes, just like a TV show. The world was pretty much our oyster as long as that oyster was set in the 70s and based on Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. Initially, I had come up with three pitches, one of them was Oceans and this was another one. My editor, Kristy Quinn, approached me when it was time for the next chapters and asked if I wanted to write my Wonder Woman space story, so of course I said yes. My wife ( artist Cat Staggs) and I are very nerdy, so anything that’s space or NASA is stuff that we’re very into. And Wonder Woman is something that I’m very into and love, so the fact that I got to combine them was just amazing. It was really a dream scenario for me.
This series has a lot of women creators attached to it, which is something I love seeing especially since there’s been a lot of concern about how comic books in general are not as inclusive to women and too often we have female characters that aren’t being written or illustrated by women. How did you get involved with writing for DC?
Amanda: Well, I’m mostly a television writer but Cat and I had a webcomic on a female comedy site called Hot Mess that I wrote and she illustrated that was basically embarrassing stories about my life, often times alcohol induced and before I was a mother. We did that and then I did a story for IDW’s Womanthology, and Kristy Quinn had known about me and had seen the web comic and the IDW story and had worked with Cat many times. But she also saw this funny video that I had put on YouTube of me doing a Batman joke and guess was amused by it, so she approached me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a Wonder Woman story, which of course I said 'absolutely' to.
Lastly, what advice would you give for any girls or women reading this that are interested in breaking into the comic book industry?
Amanda: Create your own stuff. Just keep writing or drawing. I started by having a web comic, so I think the best thing you can do is keep working on your own stuff so you can show people that you keep getting better and are honing your talent. And go to conventions and meet people and make those connections. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but make sure people know who you are. I think women in general, we’re taught to be shy and wait for someone to approach us. I think there is certainly a way go up and know that your work is valuable and you are worth talking to.
Seeing Stars is now available for download via the DC Comics App, Readdcentertainment.com, iBooks, comiXology.com, Google Play, Kindle Store, Nook Store, and iVerse ComicsPlus.
Writer: Amanda Deibert
Artist: Christian Duce
Colorist: Wendy Broome
Cover Artist: Jason Badower