By Beau Smith

Welcome back to Busted Knuckles? live from The Flying Fist Ranch, the most manly place in comics. After a couple of weeks of me throwin’ out testosterone packed text I figured it was time to get back to an episode of Five Manly Questions. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

I always enjoy my trips all over the world to meet up with some of the best comic book creators in comics. Some more than others? (I still think Mark Waid has his henchmen watchin’ me.) This was one that I enjoyed more than others. Why? Because I was gonna be spendin’ time with a very good friend, Amanda Conner.

Before Amanda and I were buddies I was an admirer of her work in comics. About ten years ago when I was writing Guy Gardner: Warrior for DC Comics. My artist amigo, Mitch Byrd had just left the book. I wanted to fill his spot with the best talent possible. I had seen some of Amanda Conner’s work over at Marvel. Like a lot of other guys, I wanted her. I wanted her bad.

I told my editor on Guy Gardner Warrior that Amanda would be the perfect choice to keep Guy Gardner on his path of perfect manhood. I could really see Amanda on the book. She had that look I had a desire for and on top of that she could really draw. He said he’d see what he could do.

It wasn’t enough.

I ended up with some fill in artists and then it was too late. Amanda was already booked up. NOTE: All editors should listen to me. Obey Beau!

It wasn’t all bad, though. It was soon after that that Amanda and I got to be good friends. The icing on the cake was that her main man, Jimmy Palmiotti was a part of the friendship package deal. A true real man from north of the West Virginia border. That Amanda is not only a looker and very witty, but she has good taste in men. Real men that is.

Before I get into Amanda’s answers to my five manly questions I thought I’d fill y’all in a little on her Interpol record. This information was gathered at the website that Amanda, Jimmy and Justin Gray call home:

    Amanda Conner started working on small projects for Marvel Comics and Archie Comics. For several years, she was hired by ad agencies Kornhauser and Calene and Kidvertisers to work on a number of launches and campaigns such as Arm & Hammer, PlaySkool and Nickelodeon, to name a few.

    However, loving comic books and cartooning the most, she once again found herself working for Marvel and their Barbie line (while there, many of Amanda’s covers were made into designs for the line of Barbie toys), their Disney line and especially the Gargoyles line. At the same time she was illustrating Soul Searchers & Co. for Claypool comics. Other Marvel projects came along, such as Excalibur for the X-Men line and Suburban Jersey Ninja She-Devils.

    From Marvel to Crusade Publishing, drawing the mini-series Tomoe and then to the hit series Vampirella for Harris Comics. While illustrating Vampirella, Amanda worked with the top writers in the field, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Warren Ellis.

    Continuing to expand her horizons, Amanda illustrated the best selling Event comic Painkiller Jane vs The Darkness and went on to work on Painkiller Jane 0 and write and illustrate a story for Kid Death and Fluffy.

    Since then, Amanda has moved on and has worked on many of the top titles in comics such as Lois Lane, Codename: Knockout, and Birds of Prey, for DC Comics’ Vertigo line, X-Men Unlimited for Marvel, co-created Gatecrasher for Blackbull Comics, and The Pro, a creator owned book for Image with Jimmy Palmiotti and Garth Ennis.

    Amanda’s work can also be seen outside the comic book community in such places as ABC’s Nightline, the New York Times, Mad Magazine, character designs for film and tv, and Amanda is featured in a Biography Magazine commercial on A&E.

As most of ya know from readin’ my past Busted Knuckles, I do not like to go to New York. It’s not only filled with people that root for the Yankees, but they talk real funny up there to boot. But to spend some time with Amanda I knew that I’d once again have to pack up the truck and head north. The drive north was pretty uneventful. It’s always nice to travel through my home state of West Virginia: beautiful country, and always a chance to see some great wildlife up in the mountains. I saw a couple of black bears I was tempted to get out and rassle with, but I was on a time schedule and time was not on my side. So I moved on.

I reached the bar where I was to meet Amanda right on time. It was the same Guido joint that I had met with Jimmy a few months earlier. No sooner than I pulled up in front of the place when I saw Amanda runnin’ out of the bar and I could tell that she wasn’t runnin’ out to greet me. There was somethin’ else on her mind.

She saw me and and jerked open my truck door and jumped in. “Jimmy’s in trouble. Let’s go.” She yelled. My foot was already mashin’ the gas pedal like I would a back issue of Youngblood.

With Amanda givin’ me directions getting’ there was not a problem. The real problem would be when we got there. Amanda told me that Jimmy had gone to a new bar that had opened up. What Jimmy didn’t know was that there were some undesirables waitin’ for him there.

These undesirables came in the form of a gang of inkers. Petty, bitter, jealous, disgruntled inkers. The worst kind.

It seems that group of inkers in comics had started to think that Jimmy had gotten uppity on em’. That he had forgotten his roots. They didn’t like the fact that Jimmy had become a writer, and a successful one at that. They also didn’t like the idea that Jimmy was sleepin’ with a penciler. That bothered em’ more than anything else. Inkers had always carried a grudge against pencilers. They felt that pencilers always got the glory and were tryin’ to keep the inkers down.

They were gonna make an example of Jimmy.

We pulled up to the place and right off the bat it looked like trouble. The name of the bar was India, Inc. With a name like that Jimmy should’ve known it was a hang out for pissed off inkers.

Amanda and I didn’t have to open the front door. It had already been busted off its hinges. We looked into this dark piss hole of a dive and saw Jimmy. He was on top a pool table fightin’ off inkers with a T-Square. He was holdin’ his own, but it would only be a matter of time before they overwhelmed him by sheer numbers.

With her man in trouble, Amanda wasted no time. She had already busted a couple heads in a matter of seconds. I was just about to grab some goofball inker by the hair when one of his buddies came at me with a French Curve that had been sharpened into a shiv. Another reason not to trust the French.

I was able to dodge his thrust without much of a problem. The reason bein’ that without a penciler to draw em’a picture, these paper tracers couldn’t smack a fat lady on the ass with a ball bat.

A quick elbow to the eye socket left that moron blindly stumblin’ around like a Wizard staff writer after his first beer. I looked up to find that Amanda had left a trail of bloody inker teeth as a path to where she was jabbin’ an Ande Parks look alike in the eye with a number two pencil. The gleeful look on her face even unsettled me a bit and I’ve seen it all.

Meanwhile, Jimmy looked like the Lord Of The Dance as he danced a jig on the lifeless body of an unconscious inker. I think it was Scott Hanna. Not really sure. The face was wearing a crimson mask of blood. His own.

A cluster of cuss words filled the air as Klaus Janson grabbed a handful of Amanda’s hair and called her an overpaid pencil pusher. It was then that Amanda did a wheelhouse spin off the wall and came down with a back kick to Janson’s noggin. He was out colder than Jim Shooter’s comic career.

Amanda then did one of those Xena cartwheels and preceded to speed bag Terry Austin’s face like it was in a Popeye cartoon. One of the good ones. Jimmy was singin’ Dean Martin’s hit “Ain’t that a kick in the head” as he did just that to swelled head of Kevin Conrad. The tide was startin’ to turn and these “connect the dots” inkers were fallin’ left and right. Mostly from the lefts and rights I was throwin’ their way.

With one final swing of a pool cue from Amanda the inkers were finished. Most lay scattered on the sawdust floor or were quickly leavin’ the place for the safety of their 1977 AMC Pacers.

The hierarchy of comics was once again restored to its proper place.

We looked around to make sure that there weren’t any more tracers lookin’ to make a chalk outline of our bodies on the floor. It was clear. We helped ourselves to some very cold beer and found a table that was still standing. I asked Jimmy how long this had been goin’ on. He said that it had been buildin’ up for a while. He wasn’t sure who was masterminding the inker’s cult, but he had heard that it might be Dick Giordano. Of course that was just a rumor.

I told him that I had the same kinda trouble a few years ago when other comic book marketing guys, Lou Bank formerly of Marvel and Dark Horse as well as Matt Ragone Also formerly of Marvel, had taken out a contract on me when I was doin’ a couple of monthly books. They didn’t like the idea that I was writin’ comics as well as marketing em’.

“But those guys aren’t in comics anymore.” Amanda said with a puzzled tone.

“Exactly”. I said with a slight smirk.

I pulled out my trusty tape recorder. The one that never gets broke during these bar room brawls. I told Amanda that we needed to cover her Five Manly Questions now that the head bustin’ had slowed down. She leaned back in her chair and smiled. Said that sounded good. Jimmy laughed and stood up. Said he was gonna got grab us some more beer. Told me that her answers would be more manly than his were. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and headed towards the bar.

Beau: Ya know, Amanda, this is somethin’ I’ve been wantin’ to cover with ya since you and I did that college circuit of teachin’ “Comic Book How To” a few years ago. We sure had a great time teachin’ those college kids in Kentucky how to write and draw.

Amanda: Oh, yeah! That was a great time. My mom enjoyed that trip as well. I think she even enjoyed you flirting with her, Beau.

Beau: Well, Amanda, after all, she is a woman and I am? well? me. But enough of my manly charms, let’s get on with your Five Manly Questions.

Beau: What annoyin’ celebrity would ya like to smack in the head with a shovel or crush with a heavy kitchen appliance?

Amanda: I can’t put my finger on one particular celebrity, but all those celebrity based “news” shows are really annoying to me. I might take some serious pleasure in watching a beautiful stainless steel sub-zero fall on top of the ass-kissin’ hosts of those shows… oh, and James Lipton.

Beau: Other than your own manly boytoy Jimmy Palmiotti, name some of the sexiest and manly men on the planet.

Amanda: Yeah? Jimmy is manly, huh? A lot of guys in Hollywood are very? y’know… pretty, but George Clooney, he’s very manly and Robert Shaw? how hot was he in Jaws? Also, Samuel L. Jackson. I could just listen to him talk all day long? granted most of his sentences might often be punctuated with the word muthafucka, but it would never get boring! Bruce Willis, him too. and Ah-nuld. and believe it or not, though he is supposedly small in stature, I think Jon Stewart is a manly man ’cause he’s smart (and smart-assed) and he’s funny, and I find that very manly! Also Chris Meloni from Law and Order SVU, and Johnny Knoxville and all those boys from Jackass? although they’re manly in a very boyish way. Richard Roundtree, too. Jimmy met him last week and was pretty awestruck! You gotta be real manly to strike some awe into Jimmy! And of course, you, Beau Smith is the manliest of all… My mom thinks so, too. She says hi, by the way.

[I told Amanda thanks and then I asked her for her mother’s phone number. Her mother is as pretty as Amanda?.not a bad thing to be in my book.]

Beau: Name some manly movies that every real woman should see to appreciate a real man.

Amanda: Jaws. I used to have a crush on Roy Scheider. All Indiana Jones movies. Any James Bond movie that has Sean Connery in it. Any Star Wars movie with Han Solo in it.

Beau: What CD’s are on your personal playlist right now?

Amanda: Movie soundtracks, I love all different kinds of movie soundtracks, from Pulp Fiction, to Virgin Suicides, to John Barry. Also, I’ve been listening to a lot of lounge music, lately? lounge music makes me feel as if I’m actually in a James Bond movie.

Beau: Name some of your latest and upcoming real woman work in comics or entertainment that’ll make every real man readin’ this wanna go out and buy with their cherished beer money. Name the publisher as well.

Amanda: I just finished up a Marvel mini-comic that’ll be inserted into the Blade Trinity DVD? and every month I have some art in each issue of Revolver Magazine (for all you manly, tattooed, hard rockin’, head-bangin’ dudes). The art is for a Q & A section that the very manly drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott writes? it’s kinda like Dear Abby for frustrated metal-heads. Also, I have something coming up with DC but I’m not allowed to talk about it yet. Although the central character is a buxom hot chick. That really narrows it down, huh?

Beau: Well, yeah?.With all my POWER, I WONDER who it might be?Okay, bonus question: Please name some Real Man writers and artists in comics.

Amanda: Besides Jimmy and your own bad self? I think Paul Gulacy and also Darwyn Cooke. Also Justin Gray. And without a doubt, Steve Dillon. Definitely Steve Dillon!

With all the questions done, we toasted beer bottles and downed em’. Jimmy showed up with a few more. The night had started out really good with a long drive and a barbrawl, least I could do is see which one of the three of us would still be standin’ at 6am.

No room to go into details, but I’ll just say that it was Amanda that drove me and Jimmy to Denny’s for waffles the next morning. That girl can sure do things in a manly way? and looks good while she does em’.

Piss On The Fire

I highly suggest that y’all go out and buy anything that Amanda or Jimmy does. Their work will never let ya down and always be worth the cover price. I also suggest that if ya see em’ at a con you should stop buy and talk with em’. Two of the nicest folks in comics today. They have total respect for what has come before and a strong belief in what is to come. Drop by their website that they also share with talented nice guy, Justin Gray and let em’ know what ya think about their work.

I wanna thank all the folks that emailed and called me last week when I broke the news about goin’ freelance. Let me say that there were over 150 emails and the phone rang well into the evening every day. Some very interesting offers came in those calls and emails. I suspect you’ll be hearin’ more about me in 2005 that ya can stomach. Maybe I’ll take away some work from those pesky British writers. I might have to call my buddy Neil Gaiman up and tell him to find another line of work to sip tea in. Can ya imagine me writin’ Sandman? Haaaaaarrh! Hard for me to type that with a straight face. I can hear DC Comics lockin’ their doors now.

Thanks for all your support. Get over to my website and check things out. You’ll have a manly time. You ladies can just sit there and stare at my manly photos and wish it was me you were makin’ a sandwich for.

Talk to ya next week, amigo. More manly fun on the way.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin