Based on her artwork alone, I was predisposed to like Amanda Conner. From her work Painkiller Jane to Power Girl to Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, the writer/illustrator clearly has skill in spades. How else does one merit having not one, but two collected books of her artwork? Naturally, I was beyond excited when I got to catch up with her at Wondercon, and we talked about everything from working with Darwyn Cooke to the challenges of penning a Watchmen prequel to just how “Brooklyn” Frank Tieri really is (hint: very). So, sit back, relax, and read on to find out what the multi-talented comics maven has in store for us next.
Nerdist: First and foremost, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre.
Amanda Conner: Thank you!
N: I had a chance to speak to Darwyn Cooke a while back and he had the nicest things to say about you.
AC: Yeah, he’s great.
N: Now that we’re a bit removed from Before Watchmen and all the hubbub surrounding it, what was the experience like working on it?
AC: Right. It was fun to work with Darwyn. If we didn’t talk every day, we talked a lot – like 4-5 times per week. Like, “Okay, what are we doing here?” It’s interesting because I’ve never done a co-writing project as in-depth as this before. I’d written some smaller stuff before, but nothing as big as this. It was a giant thing to write; it was pretty heavy. Last year in San Diego, I think I said it was a bit like growing a set of baby teeth and then having someone drop a porterhouse steak in front of you. [laughs] It was really great to work with him, and we had no idea how to approach it. He brought me in thinking, “I need the voice of a sixteen year-old girl and I don’t know how to do it, but you’ve been a sixteen year-old girl, Amanda, so you can do it!” And, ironically, he wound up writing a lot of Laurie; he had a really good voice for a sixteen year-old girl. My voice was the giant guru black man – I was able to nail him. [laughs] He was actually based on my friend from high school, so that might be why I had an easy time writing him.
N: Yeah, it’s always nice when you come across a character that you know from real life. Makes the whole process more fun.
N: How has the reaction been? What has your experience been with the readers since Silk Spectre has come out?
AC: You know, I tend to not go online too often with the exception of buying shoes. [laughs]
N: Zappos does have some pretty compelling deals.
AC: [laughs] They do. But, I was sort of blissfully unaware – I knew it was there, but I wasn’t reading a lot of the anger and vitriol towards the creators.
N: Probably for the best.
AC: Yeah, I think it was. And, you know, I stumbled along not knowing what was going on outside of [the project], just thinking, “I gotta get this done!” But, I really enjoyed it. That said, I’m glad it’s over.
N: I imagine it would have to be a huge weight off.
AC: Well, not yet. It’s such a big task and I wanted to make sure I nailed everything just right and didn’t do anything that wouldn’t blend seamlessly into what Alan [Moore] and Dave [Gibbons] had already done. You know, it took a lot of knowing exactly everything that happened in the original book and knowing what happened in the 1960s and being able to sort of tweak that because that’s what Alan and Dave had done. They took actual things that happened, but instead of President Kennedy getting shot in a limo, he got shot in an electric limo. So, I can sort of take real life events and fool around with them a little bit and change the timeline. It was so research-intensive; it took me eight months to do a four issue book.
N: Wow. Well, that time certainly paid off. It was one of my favorite Before Watchmen titles.
AC: Well, thank you, I’m glad you liked it. [laughs]
N: So, something else I wanted to talk to you about – you do quite a bit of work with your husband, Jimmy Palmiotti…
AC: Here’s a dirty little secret – we’re still engaged. We’re not officially married yet, but we’ve been engaged for so long that we just go, “Yeaaaaah, my wife, my husband.” It’s just easier.
N: So these comics were made out of wedlock?
AC: Yes, they were! Shhh, don’t tell anyone. [laughs]
N: One collaboration with Jimmy that intrigues me is Ame-Comi Girls. Tell us about that and drawing outside of your typical style.
AC: Oh yeah! It was funny because Jimmy and Justin [Gray] had been working on (it), and they asked me if I wanted to draw more Wonder Woman and I was like, “Yes, I do!” It was sort of a no-brainer. It didn’t take a whole lot of arm-twisting to get me to do that, you know? It’s an interesting take on Wonder Woman; she’s a young, headstrong teenager/twentysomething arguing with her mom. What teenage girl doesn’t do that? I know I did it. You know, you just butt heads with your mom, like “You’re gonna wear this / No I’m not!” It was the opposite with me and my mom – my mother was always trying to get me to wear more clothes and I was trying to wear less. With Wonder Woman, Hippolyta wanted her to go to the world of man in a tiny bathing suit and I said to Jimmy, “I don’t know about this. I don’t know if this is going to fly with some people.” And he said her mother was telling her, “Well, this is how you tell the world you want peace. I come bearing no weapons and you can’t see where I’m hiding any!” I thought, “Okay, yeah, that makes sense then.” [laughs]
N: One last question – what else can we expect from you in the coming months?
AC: Ooh, that’s gonna be fun. So, Jimmy and Frank Tieri are – I think it’s going to be Kickstarter, but most likely done through Image – doing Captain Brooklyn.
N: Nice! I’m picturing so many different versions of who Captain Brooklyn could be. Is he like the uber-hipster?
AC: No, no, he’s like old school Brooklyn, like Jimmy and Frank Tieri-Brooklyn. In fact, I actually based him on Frank Tieri. Have you ever actually seen Frank Tieri or talked to him?
N: Not yet – I haven’t had the pleasure.
AC: I was telling someone else just now – he’s so Brooklyn that he makes Jimmy look like a British gentleman. [laughs]
N: That’s amazing.
AC: Yeah, he’s that Brooklyn. If you ever see him, you’ll be like, “Oh yeah. I get it now.”
N: Any word on when that might be dropping?
AC: When I can get it finished. [laughs]
So, there you have it – a little bit of what’s going on with the multitalented Amanda Conner. Make sure to keep up with her creative endeavors on Twitter. What would you like to see Amanda tackle next? Let us know in the comments below.