We caught up with Cat Staggs after Celebration V to chat about Star Wars, why she chose to do a Tusken Raider Stormtrooper helmet and how she got started in a galaxy far, far away.
What’s your earliest memory of Star Wars?
Well…I was five and my parents took us to see it at the Cooper Theater in Denver. I got to see that Star Destroyer in full Cinerama! Quite an impact. I was hooked. We actually saw the rest of the films at that same theater over the next 5 years. It was a fantastic place.
What does it mean to you today?
Star wars is a nostalgic trip back to my childhood. A time I enjoyed so much. Being able to create and play in that world today is really a dream come true. It is such a vast playground that it is almost never ending. ven with 30 + years of history, it has so much potential for new stories. I love that I have been playing in this world for so many years and it still manages to stay as fresh and enchanting for me now as it did when I was a young girl.
How did you get into comics? Star Wars?
I used to work for a retail music and movie chain as a visual merchandiser. I was in charge of promotional materials and advertising for the district. I did that job for 8 years. (I even submitted some of my ad work to Mary Frankin and the Star Wars Insider’s Bantha Tracks) I was laid off when they were bought out by another company and thus took that opportunity to pursue freelance art full time. I started going to comic conventions and showing my work around to whoever would look at it. I met Steve Sansweet, head of fan relations for Lucas Film, in Chicago. We talked briefly about my work and Star Wars. A few months later, I received an email from Topps asking me if I wanted to work on a Revenge of the Sith sketch card set, that eventually led to other work in the Star Wars universe and in the comic world. So it began.
How was CV? Any highlights?
Celebration V was amazing. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. One of the biggest highlights for me was when Gary Kurtz came by my table, meeting him was incredible. I really wish that I could have seen the Main Event, but alas, I was chained to my table.
Who’s your favorite Star Wars character? Why? Who do you like to draw the most?
Hmmm…I have always liked Han Solo as a character. I always wanted to be him when we played Star Wars as kids. He was cocky and fun. What kid wouldn’t want to play that? Over the years Leia has grown to be a very close second. I have grown to appreciate her character more as an adult. For me, she was one of the first characters not portrayed as a damsel in distress (which can be said for the vast majority of female characters in the Star Wars universe). She is very independent and not scared of anything or any situation and she’s a leader with a great take-charge attitude. I mean, someone has to save their skins, right?
Why did you go with a Tusken Raider for your Stormtroopers helmet?
I was brain storming with the project head, Chris Romines, and we laughed and joked about a bunch of ideas, one of which was a comment about the Tuskin/Storm Trooper mash up. I am not sure why I was so drawn to the Tuskin concept, but that was the one that I kept coming back to so I went with it. Then in playing with the elements, wrapping the helmet in leather and canvas, the idea really came together.
Your favorite SW movie?
Empire Strikes Back.
Any characters from the Lucas’ work or the expanded universe that you’d love to re-imagine?
Well I have done this already with a few illustrations for a short story on starwars.com called Shades of Gray. The character of Alex Winger had been around for a while in short stories and comics. I was not given many images of her and I was able to work from those few line illustrations and really flesh her out. I really enjoy doing character design and I was very happy that the author like what I created.
I noticed your CV prints are very old school recruiter-like. What was your inspiration behind those?
My inspiration was just what you said, old school recruitment posters. I am a big fan of WWII poster campaigns from around the world. The illustrations pack such a punch, hitting every emotion. I love the way those posters give you a full story from one painting. It is not easy to pull that off. I do my best and hopefully people appreciate them.
This was the third in a series for me. At CIV, I created a Rebellion poster featuring Luke returning from the trench run that resulted in the Death Star’s destruction. Later that year with Celebration Europe, I continued the theme, this time featuring a Tie Fighter Pilot exclaiming his undying loyalty to the Empire and willingness to sacrifice his life in honor. For CV, I went back to the theme and created “To Hoth and Back” featuring the Snowtroopers during the invasion of Echo Base. Using phrases like “See Action Now” and “Do You Have What It Takes?” trying to paint the Imperial army as the place to be if you want to be the best.