In 1992, a harlequin murderous ball of humor came to life in Batman: The Animated Series in the episode “Joker’s Favor”. From her on-screen debut as a devoted and insanely in love henchgirl, we’re told in ’94 (The Batman Adventures: Mad Love by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm) that Harley Quinn was once Harleen Quinzel, an Arkham Asylum psychologist that was meant to treat the Joker, but instead was manipulated into a deep, obsessive love. It’s a rare character indeed that begins their comic book success on the television screen rather than on paper. That said, she’s not a character lacking from attention; in addition to being one of the most well-known Dark Knight villains, Harley has had several comic books focus solely upon her lovely brand of crazy. Karl Kesel and Terry Dodson come to mind.
But in recent years, DC COMICS shifted and renewed their stories, and in 2013 a stand-alone run for Harley would break through the New 52 headed by an indomitable duo that would give Harley Quinn popularity that would boost her straight to the top of DC fan folk’s Most Wanted List. Some have gone as far as to hint at her being a new pillar for DC, not unlike the Trinity that seemingly represents the majority of DC’s successes. Whether her popularity has staying power or is just a trend remains to be seen, and it’s about to face the test as Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti step away from the writer’s desk, and hand the pens over to another creative team. A personal fangirl of the power couple, I asked Palmiotti if he’d mind sharing some words about their decision to walk away from a character that they reinvented in a way that brought outside fans into the beautiful world of comics. And like the always friendly guy is, he was happy to answer a few short questions.
GM: First off, Harley Quinn has been such a huge run, with y’all at the helm for four years. You turned a great supporting character into one of the hottest ones out there right now, inspiring cosplayers galore. How does it feel to be ending that era of your lives?
Palmiotti: For Amanda and I it is a very needed break, but we at the same time are very proud of the work we have done, and having worked with some of the greatest artists in the business in the process. We never thought what we were doing with the character would take off the way it did, and it still amazes us till this day. We look at this less than an end and more of a chapter for us.
GM: Do you think you may return to Harley Quinn in the future?
Palmiotti: We think there will be a time to tell the stories we haven’t had time to tell so yes, we see ourselves writing some more adventures one day, but not right away. Amanda has a couple of stories she wants to get out there in the future, and DC has told us they are willing and ready when the time comes, but its also time to let others have some fun with the character and the supporting cast.
GM: Does it make it easier to walk away knowing Frank Tieri will be taking over, and the Harley story will continue in extremely capable hands?
Palmiotti: Frank is one of a few writers taking over and we love him and his work, so yeah, it’s easier knowing it’s in good hands of people that will respect what we created and hopefully continue what we started.
GM: Can you give a hint on whether this decision means anything new is coming up for the Palmiotti/Conner team, be it with DC or Paperfilms? Do you have a project you’ll be focusing more on now?
Palmiotti: Right now we are taking a break to spend time traveling and having some fun with friends and family and in-between we will be finishing some personal projects we have had in the works as well as focusing on some new creator owned titles. We have a newsletter people can sign up for on our site at http://Paperfilms.com that keeps everyone in the loop to what we have planned, but or main focus will be each other for the immediate future.
If you have yet to pick up the Conner/Palmiotti run of Harley Quinn, I suggest you do so. The series is humorous and fun, but also takes on some serious issues pretty head on. After all, they say no one is crazier than a shrink. The story-telling is amazing, and interiors are consistently gorgeous. You can also find more of their work at the site listed in the interview above. PaperFilms is a team of superb talent, including Conner and Palmiotti, but also Tieri, Paul Mounts, Justin Gray and more. Their projects found there run away from the mainstream side of comics, and THE PRO and PAINKILLER JANE are must-reads. You can also purchase signed works and merch from the team.