XXX-Woman

An Interview With Comic Book Artist Amanda Conner

Not that certain old-school cartoonists haven't already tried. Jim Steranko, a legendary name in comics, indie publishing, and topless pinup art, used to glory in being the "bad boy" artist of the '60s and '70s. He even quit Marvel over wanting to give their characters more film-noir sex and Hefner-esque cleavage than the Comics Code of the 1960s allowed. Now in his sixties, he seems a little miffed that upstart talents like Ennis and Conner enjoy a creative freedom in comics that he could never have imagined in his prime. When initial publicity about The Pro went out, Steranko published an ostensibly patriotic online rant that singled out The Pro as symptomatic of the malevolent moral decline that made the fall of the twin towers possible.

Steranko's screed—still available online—was unusually pointed (if a bit rabid) in its accusations. "Are some of the most publicized talents in the field so desperate they've turned to celebrating evil . . . ?" Steranko wrote. In truth, such sentiments are a bit hard to swallow from a self-professed gun-owning badass who admits he adores pictorial exploitations of the female body as long as they are in a style he finds "tasteful."

"We ended up dedicating the book to him . . . just for fun," Conner recalls with a wry smile.

If the book does as well as currently projected, will Conner feel compelled to try even more extreme projects? Is there a core of truth to what Steranko and other cartoonists say about how younger creators cynically pander to degraded public tastes? There is already talk of keeping the Pro team together for another Ennis idea—this time a more serious World War II story. Currently Conner is staying busy with a three-issue story arc on Birds of Prey, a female-driven superhero series that crosses over into live-action television this fall. If The Pro does get optioned for a feature film, the resultant cash windfall might fund a number of self-published projects Conner wants to do. But Conner's no hypocrite. She adores working the wild side of comics and drawing slapstick toilet humor. It makes her giggle. And it helps sell The Pro.

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