Merry Christmas! While many are settling down for their long winter’s nap and the go-go news cycle downshifts, Newsarama will keep you fires burning with fascinating anecdotes never before revealed. Enjoy!
Amanda Conner is one of the top artists in comic books today, but in 1985, she was an aspiring artist…with a Halloween costume. She became the muse for legendary artist Bill Sienkiewicz and one of comics’ most famous projects.
Take it away, Amanda!
“Bill lived in the town right next to where I was living in Connecticut, apparently. I was just out of art school and was working at Chemical Color Separation, doing color separations for comics. It was really tedious work, and it wasn’t drawing, and it was driving me nuts. I had to get out of there.
“I got a part time job working at the Dream Factory, a local comic book store. I was working there when I found a ‘Help Wanted’ ad, or maybe my mother did and passed it on to me. It was ‘Local cartoonist needs assistant.’ I went to answer it and it was ‘Oh by God, it’s Bill Sienkiewicz!’ I became his assistant for a few years.
“My ex-husband and I dressed up as Bullseye and Elektra for Halloween, so…I had an Elektra costume. I showed some pictures to Bill and he was like, ‘This is so authentic-looking! I need a model for this! Will you do it?’ I wanted to try it, so…yeah! He had issues #1 through #3 done, so the first time I modeled for him was the cover of issue #4, the one with all the little cherubs on it. That was my first modeling session. He loved it and said, ‘This is great, I need more!’ and asked me to do more. I said yeah, absolutely. It was a lot of fun!
“Do you know Peter Sanderson, the old Marvel archivist? He was the model for a character in the book. He was Arthur Perry. Bill’s old girlfriend, her name was Robyn, was a model for the book as well. Bill used to have these potluck dinners, which then became his jam session of dinner, and taking pictures. We’d all do poses and he’d take a ton of pictures.
“If you look at Elektra: Assassin #1 through #3, she’s this tall, badass, muscle-y Greek woman. But then the book starts morphing into someone who looks like me, and I am not a tall Greek woman at all. And by the last issue, it’s like, ‘Yep. That’s Amanda Conner in a red bandana.’ If you look at the second-to-last-page in the book, it looks just like me. You’d say, ‘Yup, that’s Amanda. Just her.’”
“It was honestly intimidating working for Bill right at the start because holy shit, he’s Bill Sienkiewicz. But he’s such a nice guy, and so encouraging. I was working on my own stuff, sample pages, all the while I was working with Bill and he kept encouraging me, making me go to Marvel and DC and meet editors and do new pages. It eventually worked.”