There are a lot of people who make comic books, and a lot of people who come together to make a single comic book happen. When you have a certain level of talent and ability, you’re asked to do more and more, and for the one and only Amanda Conner, her art style has earned her a career spanning many years and many different companies. As such, a new Kickstarter project that she and her husband Jimmy Palmiotti (another legendary figure in the comics world) started is live right now on the platform and is in it’s in its last few days. The promised product is a full-on art book celebrating the career and past projects that she’s made.
We had the honor of talking with Amanda Conner in an interview. Check out what she had to say about her art and her new art book: Hot & Messy: The Art Book of Amanda Conner!
Gameranx: As you note on the Kickstarter, this is something a bit different from what comic readers usually see on the platform. What led you to do this kind of art book?
Conner: I’ve had art books out from other publishers before, but this time around, Jimmy and I wanted to try publishing one on our own. This has given us the opportunity to include a variety of pieces that might not be seen in an art book that is published elsewhere. Some of these pieces were published by sources that most comic readers might not have seen, or even known existed. I’m really proud of those, and I thought it would be fun to share.
Gameranx: Another key thing that people will read in the KS is that you’re not just showing your “most famous pieces,” but you’re going to have pieces from your earlier days as an artist leading up to your more recent works as well. Was that important for you to do? If so, why?
Conner: I think it’s important for people to see that art is an evolving process. I believe sometimes it also inspires other artists, who might feel stagnated, or pigeon-holed, to see that you can climb out of your rut if you just keep persisting.
Gameranx: What would you say was the most fun part about your style evolving over the years? What were the pieces that stood out to you in the way that you went, “I really love what I drew there.”
Conner: At the beginning of my career, I was totally one of those pigeon-holed artists. I was thought of as “that Barbie artist,” or someone who could only do books directed at a younger audience.
Eventually, I was able to snag some art jobs that had a little more grit and mature themes to them, but it wasn’t until “The Pro” came out that I was taken much more seriously.
Gameranx: The title of the art book is Hot & Messy. What was the inspiration for showing off your more mature works?
Conner: In most of the other art books, we’ve stuck to a much more all-ages theme, and I’m just as proud of those works as I am of the more mature art. But I’ve always had a bit of a politically incorrect streak, even when I was much younger. That may have come from me sneaking my dad’s National Lampoons out of his drawer when I was a kid. I always thought it was kinda fun to outrage the stodgy, uptight people and the pearl-clutchers.
Gameranx: For those who are just hearing about the books that you and Jimmy Palmiotti are putting on Kickstarter, can you give a brief description of what PaperFilms is, and what the goal is in terms of creating your unique style of books?
Conner: PaperFilms is our own small creator-owned publishing company. We love being able to put out work where we have the freedom to tell stories without being told what we are allowed or not allowed to say or do. We think it’s great for the creative process to not be encumbered by rules that can sometimes be dictated by a larger company’s bottom line, or whether it’s good or not for licensing.
Gameranx: One of the exclusives in your art book is an unpublished Bettie Page story that you and Jimmy drew. Can you tell us the story about how that came to be and why it wasn’t published?
Conner: Back in the late nineties, DC had a publishing division called Paradox Press, and they used to put out the “Big Books” (Big Book of Urban Legends, etc…) that some of you will remember. They had planned on putting out the Big Book of Wild Women, written by the amazing Suzie the Floozie, and she did a wonderful tribute to Bettie Page, which Jimmy Palmiotti and I were lucky enough to illustrate (back when Jimmy used to ink comics). I’m not sure why, but sadly, the book never came out. It would’ve been an awesome read.
Gameranx: One thing we personally thought was cool was that you got a bunch of fellow creators to come in and talk about what they love about your artwork and style. Were you surprised at all by how many of them came to be a part of this project?
Conner: I was completely flattered. When you work by yourself in an art studio, sometimes you tend to ruminate and wonder about whether you’re doing a good job, or you might start doubting your skills. I think that’s a pretty common thing that happens with creative minds. It was so great to hear all the kind and wonderful things that were said, and it made me feel really good to know that my creative peers felt that way.
Gameranx: Many fans will know you from your work with the various publishers over the years, including DC Comics and Marvel, and you’ve worked for various other publishers as well. How did what you did with them guide you to where you and Jimmy are now with PaperFilms?
Conner: The more experience you have, no matter who you work with, the better you become moving forward. Also, it helped us to better understand what things we wanted to work on, and what stories we wanted to tell. We can create whatever stories we want to with PaperFilms.
Gameranx: Easily one of you and Jimmy’s most famous (and epic) works was the Harley Quinn solo comic, which not only had a long run with you two at the head, but it led to the creation of the Harley Quinn animated series which just started its third season. Plus, you made the first development image for the show to help guide its look. How happy are you that many of the things you two set up in your comic are being not just appreciated and used by the series, but being beloved by the fans far and wide?
Conner: SO happy! It’s so cool to see your creative vision take on a life of its own. We didn’t create Harley (thank you, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm) but we definitely had an idea of where we wanted to go with Harley’s story. It’s really awesome to know that something you worked so hard on is inspiring different creative outlets for that work.
It was awesome getting to talk with Amanda Conner like this! Be sure to check out her “Hot & Messy Art Book” out now on Kickstarter!