by Robert Greenberger
There’s rarely a rhyme or reason why a creator suddenly bubbles to the top of the collective consciousness. Usually, the person has been working steadily, building up a body of work that’s been popular enough to sustain a career. But suddenly, something happens and the person has arrived and seems to be everywhere.
This year, that creator appears to be Amanda Conner, who is opening eyes with her stunning work on Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre. But there’s more than that with the recent 200-page IDW release The Art of Amanda Conner, covering her career in and out of comics. And this fall, DC will be offering you DC Comics: The Sequential Art of Amanda Conner, a 304-page collection that doesn’t come close to capturing her total output for the company. Still, it’s a tribute to her talent that she’s getting a book like this since previous offerings have been saved for the likes of Brian Bolland and Adam Hughes.
Amanda burst onto the scene as a refreshingly female artist in the late 1980s, doing a variety of jobs for Archie Comics and Marvel Comics before getting her first series work with Claypool’s Soulsearchers and Company and Harris Comics’ Vampirella. Beyond the four-color work, Amanda wound up doing material for Mad, The New York Times, and Revolver. She’s even done advertising for Arm & Hammer, Playskool and others. That speaks to a versatile, accessible style that has also allowed her to survive changing tastes among publishers and comics buyers.
I first recall noticing her work on the Yellowjacket story in Solo Avengers #12 in 1988 and was delighted to watch her work grow and evolve. It seemed that everywhere I looked she was doing one job or another, rarely staying with a character or series for terribly long, which may be why many took a while to figure out how great a storyteller she was. After partnering with writer/inker Jimmy Palmiotti, she began working on higher profile assignments and suddenly they were a team, then a couple, and now a force to be reckoned with.
The collection is a hodge-podge of assignments that vary in story quality but rarely deviate from excellent, accessible storytelling. Included will be Superman: Lois Lane #1, Birds of Prey #47-49, JSA Classified #1-4 (her first work with Power Girl for which she may be best known), Supergirl #12, and Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special. Additional shorter works are drawn from Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1, The Joker: Last Laugh Secret Files, Wonder Woman #600 and, we’re promised, covers and the inevitable more. Her Terra miniseries is absent as are the dozen delightful issues of the Power Girl ongoing series, still available in two volumes.
On the one hand, a book like this will allow you to watch an artist grow and evolve. Amanda can handle action and adventure but she is also adept at creating unique body types and facial expressions. Her body language tells as much of the story as does the dialogue. On the other hand, though, unlike the IDW collection, just about everything you will see here is superheroic, robbing you of the wide variety of styles and characters she has drawn. Still, few do straight heroic action better than Amanda does these days.