By Ale Bodden
After sitting through an amazing panel for the upcoming Assassins Creed comic book that Titan Entertainment is putting out, I was able to snag a good seat at a panel involving one of my favorite female characters ever: Harley Quinn! The panel was moderated by journalist/editor Abraham Riesman, and joining him on stage we had: Marguerite Bennett (DC Bombshells), Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn New 52, Starfire), and Harley Quinn mega-fan, Emily Asher-Perrin (staff writer for Tor.com). Sadly, Amanda Conner was not able to make it- you were missed!
We got a brief introduction and history of the character through Reisman, who showed us clips of the Calliope Jones' skit that inspired Harley Quinn- whose first appearance was on the Batman animated series in 1992. Taking it all the way to her first appearance in the comic book on the self-contained issue titled Mad Love. After a quick giveaway to the first six Harley Quinn cosplayers who showed up at the panel, he followed up with a small picture travel through all of the ways and items through which the character is marketed and all the costumes we have seen her wear.
The conversation started flowing right after, when Reisman asked our panelists' when was the moment they first fell in love with Harley Quinn. Asher quickly answered it was while watching the Batman Animated Series, when she first became friends with Poison Ivy. Palmiotti, on the other hand, explained that while he loved Bruce Timm's depiction of the character he has fallen in love after getting to work on the character and developing the world. Like Asher, Bennett says it was when Harley first made friends with Ivy on the Animated Series- she stated what she loved the most was that the villainesses got the chance to be themselves.
Reisman then proceeded to ask our creators what were the non-negotiable bullet points they had when working on their versions of Harley Quinn, and which others did they take freedom with. Palmiotti says the most important thing was staying true to the character, however the one thing was taking Harley Quinn out of Gotham to give her the chance to grow as a character. He states that being from New York they just had to set her in Coney Island. Palmiotti explains that to them (Conner and himself) Harley believes she is the hero, she just takes weird turns along the way. For Bennett though, she claims that she has always believed that Harley Quinn has a super power of her own which is turning every situation comical no matter how grave it might be.
Reisman then jumped into the Joker subject, asking which would be good ways vs, bad ways of portraying the abusive relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn. Asher says that one of the things she believed the animated series did really well was depicting the fact that the relationship was abusive on both ends. They showed that they both liked that push and pull. Palmiotti though, he says that his thought has been that Harley does not need the Joker in her life, she just choses to go back to him. He states him and Conner will be addressing that soon in the comic book.
The conversation then focused on Harley Quinn sales. He brought up that Harley Quinn is selling better than any other book with a female lead. He asked the panelists' opinion on the matter: what is the unique appeal of the character? He stated it was that fact what inspired him to write an article on the matter. Asher explains Harley Quinn is a mischief-maker. Unlike every super heroine who is often depicted more pragmatic and put together, Harley is just fun. Palmiotti says that Conner calls it "wish fulfilment", explaining that no matter what happens her responses to situations are never what the reader expects. He adds the character is also visually appealing, always looking different. That coupled with the Looney Tunes mentality which makes her family friendly… and a beaver. Palmiotti says that everyone can find something they like in the character.
Before opening the floor for questions Reisman asked the panelists what would they like to see happen with Harley Quinn. Asher says she would love to see more of that human side of Harley Quinn- as in she would like to see more play with that genuine quality of her's. Palmiotti's wish is simple, to see an animated series based on His and Conner's take on the character set in Coney Island (That does sound like an amazing idea, I must say –crossing fingers). As for Bennett, she says: "I just want to see more."
The floor then opened for questions that ranged between the religious influence for the character, concerns of her going back to the Joker, wishes of Harley Quinn finding new love interests- there we're tons of mentions of her relationship with Poison Ivy. The Black Book was also mentioned, Palmiotti promised we will see more of her past, her years through school, and her family history – it will all be touched upon. Maybe more heroes appearing in Black Book?
As a fan, it was such a wonderful and friendly panel to sit through. I could not stop laughing at Palmiotti's Beaver jokes, hopefully it is true and the Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad movie does have a beaver tattoo. I feel like the character's history was discussed at length, as well as her relationship with the Joker. I also loved that it showed in how many different ways Harley Quinn can be studied and interpreted. Major kudos to Reisman for being one of the best panel moderators I have seen. Thank you so much for the wonderful lesson on Harley Quinn today. I feel like my love for the character and the creators has grown.
Ale Bodden is a freelance artist and writer. It is her third year attending NYCC with Bleeding Cool. You can follow her art-ventures through twitter at: @Nerdy_Faery, or through IG: @NerdyFaery.