She Packs a Punch: An Interview with Amanda Conner

There’s a bit of a story I want to share with you guys before I get into the interview.

I approached Amanda late on Sunday as the convention was starting to wind down, pulled out my gear and began to tell her about the conversation I had with a trio of adorable little girls in the eating area while I got ready. The children were all under the age of ten and while I talked to them about the haunted house they went into, they proceeded to tell me about how much they loved Wonder Woman. For anyone who knows me well, would understand that these girls instantly became my new best friends. What followed my little tale about this band of sweet children, was a little glimpse into Amanda’s childhood – when she too, was in love with the Amazonian Princess. She shared with me a memory of her making her own bulletproof bracers from paper and how her brother would fire his toy gun at her and she would try and deflect the projectiles. She confided in me that she was rarely successful.

Now, I have to say this; before sitting down and talking to Amanda, I almost knew nothing about her. Before the challenge Brendon threw down on our “The Good, the Bad and the Busty” podcast, I would have never touched an issue of Power Girl. But, she left an impression on me. She was so warm and inviting to not only me, but the countless fans that waited in line by her table to get her signature, or just to say ‘Hello’ to the DC artist, that it was impossible for me not to want to know more about her and her body of work.

I’ll save a lot of you the trouble of researching…

She is an Irish American comic book artist who began her career working for Archie Comics and Marvel. In the 1990s, she contributed work for Claypool Comics’ Soulsearchers and Harris Comics’ Vampirella. She’s worked for Mad Magazine, had illustrations published in The New York Times, Revolver magazine, as well as having worked on a variety of commercials and advertisements for an assortment of products. What is she most known for? Most would definitely say her work on Power Girl, which she collaborated on with her partner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. She’s worked with some giant names too, including: Grant Morrison (Vampirella Masters) and Warren Ellis (Two Step).

Kim: Hi Amanda. We’re going to start this out right away with a bit of a tough one. I was challenged to read the first six issues of Power Girl a few weeks ago, but being that you’re the artist, I want you to sell it to me.

Amanda: Okay. You’re going to love Power Girl. How do I sell it to you without just showing it to you? You’re going to see a lot of yourself in Power Girl. That’s all that I can say. You’re going to start reading the comic and go “Oh, I totally get her. I totally identify. I get it.” Trust me on it.

Kim: I can’t lie to you. In our weekly podcast, I kind of hated on her costume a bit. I was apprehensive to read about her, but I did. I’m six issues in and Jimmy told me yesterday that I needed to keep going, so I’m going to do at least that much.

Amanda: Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve – they start to hit it’s stride.

Kim: I’ll get on board. If your line up suggests anything, it’s that you know what you’re doing.

< There's a moment where I mentioned that I might stalk her if I got into Power Girl. Thankfully, Amanda just laughed. >

Kim: You’re one of what seems to be only a handful of women in the industry, so I was just wondering what sort of challenges you face on a regular basis or any that you’ve noticed seem to trend for females trying to break into a male dominated profession.

Amanda: What I began to realize about being an artist is that a lot of girls would want to get into comics and then they would realize (girls being smart, usually) that if they took their illustration skills and went into advertising they could make tons more money. And me, not being as smart as those girls, being all “I love comics! I want to stay in comics,” well – I chose love over money. Also, when I went to the Joe Kubert school, Joe told all of us, boys and girls alike, that we were going to have the worst time getting into comics. It was just a really, really hard industry to get into, and so, I went in thinking that it was going to be tough, no matter what. So if there were any obstacles, I just thought “Oh! That’s one I have to overcome.” I was just prepared for it being difficult.

Kim: You didn’t have any sort of delusions going in that you were instantly going to become some star.

Amanda: I did have a little bit of delusion. I think you sort of have to in order to keep with it, but I also tried to be really realistic going into it. I knew that it was going to suck for a while before it gets good.

Kim: I don’t know if I would say you were delusional – but likely very confident. I mean, you are very talented. We talked a little yesterday when I stopped by the booth and I mentioned how much I loved your ability to capture expressions and how it seems so flawless. I can see a panel and look at their faces and know what the characters are trying to say to me without a bubble of text above their heads.

Amanda: Thank you! That’s my favorite thing to do. I love doing facial expressions and body language. I think part of it was when I actually had Joe Kubert as a teacher, the one thing that was my big ‘light bulb’ moment was when he said to me, “What you’re going to need to do is tell the story as if there were no word ballons,” and it kind of just clicked. And that’s when it started for me, I just sort of repeat that to myself and it’s what I strive for.

A fine example of her ability to capture expressions!

Kim: How do you feel about the lack of female creators that have been announced along with the DC relaunch that’s coming in September?

Amanda: Well, I know that Gail (Simone) has work and I’ve heard from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend that Nicolla (Scott) was approached to work on something, it wasn’t anything that she wanted to do. So, I think that she’s probably holding out for something that she feels right for. And honestly, they’ve got me working on something, but I’m not allowed to talk about it yet.

Kim: So you’re definitely going to be working for DC? It was a concern because we say Jimmy’s name on the list, but didn’t see yours. We were wondering what was going on.

Amanda: Yeah, so it’s not actually in that first launch. It’ll be in something else. It’s still DC, but they won’t let me say anything about it right now. Danny DiDio might appear behind me and smack me in the back of the head if I say it.

Kim: Do you know when they might announce it?

Amanda: I don’t know! They were suppose to announce it two weeks ago, and they still haven’t.

Kim: So maybe San Diego Comic Con? I hear they’re going to be announcing Dustin (Nguyen)’s project there as well as some of the other titles that they’ll be releasing near the end of the year of the beginning of the next.

Amanda: Yeah, it’s likely. I’ve also heard that – and this is not a hundred percent – but Jill Thompson (The Sandman, Scary Godmother) is also working on something, but it’s probably something she’s not going to be able to talk about either. So there are definitely more women involved in the relaunch, we just can’t say anything just yet.

Kim: That’s really comforting to know that there is going to be a strong handful of women involved in the relaunch. Not that they’re better than any of the male creators, but that they can offer some inspiration or hope for the younger generations of female artists/writers.

Amanda: Also with the advertising thing – what I’ve noticed is that fifteen years ago, I don’t think as many young women wanted to get into comics, whereas now a lot more of them want to get into them. I guess, they’re less interested in the money and doing it more for the love. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of portfolios from girls and women coming up and I’ve seen a lot of really good ones, so I think in the next ten years, you’re going to see a lot more women in the comic industry.

Kim: How is it for you, to be married to someone who is also in the industry? Do you guys ever see each other?

Amanda: Well, actually.. we’re not married. We’ve been engaged for eleven years now, and we keep saying to ourselves, “We have a wonderful thing now – if we get married, is it going to screw it all up?” So, we haven’t gotten married yet, but we’re probably going to elope pretty soon… at some point. It’s just about finding the time to do it… I have to clean the house and get some work done before we’re able to elope. But, we have two very separate work rooms. I’m upstairs in my studio and he’s downstairs in his and there are days where we don’t see each other all day. It’s almost like going to work. We don’t actually fight a lot, but every once in a while we’ll get into a tiff and it’s usually about work. Usually after five minutes, we’re cracking up because the arguments we get into are so absurd.

Kim: One of the last questions I’ve been asking the artists/writers at the Cons – was marriage advice. I just got married in October, so I wanted to see if anyone had any wisdom or insight to share. Jimmy gave some pretty amazing advice yesterday during our interview.

Amanda:Congratulations! Yeah, we have good marriage advice, despite not technically being married. Actually, I was married once before.. but now I think I’ve found my absolute perfect soulmate, even if that is such a cheesy word, but it fits. He’s perfect. He’s my perfect mate. Jimmy and I were friends for four years before we started getting involved, so I think it’s really important to find someone you’re a buddy with.. someone who you have just as much fun going to the movies with, or going on road trips with as you do having wild, monkey sex with.. it’s really good to find someone who you love to hang out with and it’s good to make each other laugh.

Kim: And one last question – another we’ve been asking all of our interviewees over the course of the weekend. If you could pick five characters from any Universe (Marvel, DC or Independent), who would be on your team, who would write it and who would be the artist?

Amanda: That’s a good one. Power Girl, She-Hulk, Tigra, Catwoman and The Pro. Jimmy would write it and I would draw it. That’s what I want.

Kim: What an awesome female team-up, I think we need to try and make this happen. It’s funny, because Jimmy said he wanted you to draw when he answered this question as well. That’s all the questions that I had for you, but if you have any advice or anything else you’d like to share with us.. please feel free.

Amanda: I think when you’re trying to get into comics, you need to be really, really persistent. Don’t let things get you down, because sometimes it’s easy to say “What am I doing here? I don’t belong here.. this is crazy!” and you’re going to want to go and work at a Home Depot or become an accountant. Just be persistent. Power through the times when you’re feeling crappy. Just, persistence. I think that’s the ticket.

Kim: Alright, thank you so much.

Amanda: Thank you, it was nice talking to you.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted June 28, 2011 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    What a great interview!

    Amanda is a delight, and easily in my top five artists. Her use of expressions, as you noted, is exactly what draws me to her work. Her Power Girl run is one of the best comics runs in recent years (as was her Terra mini-series, which you might also want to check out).

    Glad to hear there’s some more women creators coming down DC’s line. Knew about Nicola Scott, was unaware of Jill Thompson, but that’s excellent news. And Amy Reeder is doing Batwoman, correct? Really looking forward to that. Gail Simone was also starting a bit of a campaign to get Devin Grayson to write some DC books again.

    Anyway, thanks for the interview. I was lead here by Gail’s tweet. I’ll have to check out your Podcast next.

  2. ticklefist
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    Very nice interview. Thanks for posting this 🙂

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