What's better than a new Harley Quinn series?
How about a new Harley Quinn series featuring art from her co-creator, Bruce Timm, as well as a host of other legendary artists, from Adam Hughes to Darwyn Cooke, to Dave Johnson, to Paul Pope?
The artist "jam session" will take place in November's Harley Quinn #0, which will feature a story that sees Harley herself picking who her new ongoing artist will be.
The #0 issue will kick off a new, ongoing series for Harley that starts with Harley Quinn #1 in December. The title is being co-written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, who just recently married after years as one of comicdom's best-known couples.
And while November's "jam session" of all these legendary artists is only being incorporated into the #0 issue, Palmiotti said he intends to continue breaking the "rules" with the Harley Quinn title.
After all, Harley herself is a "no rules" kind of gal.
Newsarama talked to Conner and Palmiotti to find out more about the series, how it ties in with Harley's role in Suicide Squad, and how they're hoping to make Harley Quinn a unique type of comic.
Newsarama: OK, first off, Jimmy and Amanda, it sounds like the #0 issue is going to be quite a jam session. How in the world did you come up with the idea for the different artists to "try out" with Harley in the first issue?
Jimmy Palmiotti: I was daydreaming while in our hotel room at [Comic-Con International in] San Diego, and I was thinking about all the "what if" scenarios of having different artists on the book and how would we make that work. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got and threw the idea at Amanda and she loved it.
We decided since we are going to have no "rules" with the book, why not pitch the idea to DC? And if they didn’t like it, we'd just move on to plan “B.”
I ran into Dan DiDio at the con that afternoon, and pitched it to him, and he smiled and said he loved the idea, and wanted to know who we could wrangle into the book?
Well, I spent the next few hours walking around talking to different creators. I got Tony Daniel and pitched him leaving a panel we were both on, went up to Adam Hughes while he was signing at the DC booth, and so on. Amanda went and found Bruce Timm at his usual spot at the con and asked him. We started rounding up creator commitments to the idea that day, and we were almost half filled.
Next was making some calls and e-mails and such. It all came together nicely. Once word got out of what we were doing, we had a flood and only a limited amount of pages. It was fun to put together the book this way.
Amanda Conner: Yeah, Jimmy always wakes up with a brain full of ideas, and waking up in a hotel room after a late night in San Diego at Comic-Con is no different — except that he’s all energized, and I haven’t had coffee, or even climbed out of bet yet. So when he told me about the idea, I said “fine, yes, whatever” to get him to leave me alone. But later, when we were sitting down having breakfast, and I was fully awake and full of coffee, the idea actually sounded really good! I was worried that Dan might not go for it, but when he did, we got even more excited, and that’s when we started running around talking to all the different artists about being a part of it.
Nrama: Adam Hughes is drawing Harley for the first issue. That alone seems worth the price of admission. Have you seen his art for it?
Palmiotti: Adam just got the part he is doing and we have not seen art from it, but remember, this is an experimental issue, so it's not going to be exactly what you think it is. It’s Harley, and that alone means a bit of madness.
Nrama: The solicitation for issue #0 also mentioned Darwyn Cookie, Sam Kieth, Tony Daniel, Paul Pope, Walter Simonson and Art Baltazar. Can you "name drop" some of the other artists?
Palmiotti: I can only do a few since some might not be able to hit the deadline I don’t want to throw too many out there. I will say the other ones we know…Adam Hughes, Bruce Timm, Dave Johnson and a few more surprises. As well, Amanda will be doing some art inside.
Nrama: You also revealed in San Diego that the artists are "trying out" for the series, and Harley is judging their art, picking who will get to be her ongoing artist. So does this mean Harley Quinn is aware that she's being made into a comic?
Palmiotti: It is all her fault. You shall see.
Conner: Wait… whose fault? Mine or Harley’s?
Palmiotti: Everything! It's all your fault.
Nrama: It sounds like the #0 issue will stand out from the overall series, so what's the premise of the comic overall?
Palmiotti: It is a simple one that we do not want to ruin. The #0 book is a giant lab experiment — and Issue #1 that comes after this will be the more regular format of the book.
This issue is something special on a number of levels. This will make you laugh and cry…cry laughing.
Nrama: We've seen Harley as part of the Suicide Squad in the New 52. But what's Harley like in your series, as you guys are writing her? Are you doing more of a spotlight on her as a character?
Palmiotti: The plan on Harley is to get into who she is, what she does all day, how she makes a living and how she views the world. She is the hero in her own mind, and we will be focusing on this. We will get to know her, the people around her and how she deals with things in her own special way. We plan to charm the readers with her exploits, but don’t expect a by-the-numbers superhero type book.
Nrama: In her Suicide Squad appearance, it seems like she's done answering to "Mr. J" and has gone off on her own adventures. But has she truly broken free of the Joker? Or does he still play a role in your plans for the comic?
Palmiotti: She will never really break free. The Joker will always be a part of her life, but that said, there is a lot more to her than being his girlfriend. We will be focusing on who she is and why she seems so insane. Her thought process and her fresh look at the world around her will be the focus of the book. The Joker…well, wait and see.
Conner: Yeah, the Joker has played a big roll in the person she’s become, but someone like Harley has already started out with issues that are all her own. However, ex-boyfriend issues are always great fodder for stories and background!
Nrama: OK, so you said you're going to explore what she does all day. Does she have much of a life outside of the costume? (I can't imagine her spending days as a mild-mannered secretary or something...)
Palmiotti: She was a doctor and she has many skills, so yes, we will be focusing on her hopes and dreams and how she will be making a living and, at the same time, how she functions with her dysfunction.
Conner: She will be trying to live a normal-ish life with new people in a new environment. What kind of upheaval will she throw her new surroundings into? We’re going to take into account that Harley’s "normal" isn’t the rest of everybody’s "normal."
Nrama: But I assume it's not just her "day job." What kind of adventures will we see Harley encountering?
Palmiotti: I can tease and say we will see a lot of Harley righting what she views as wrong in some truly crazy ways.
Nrama: Can we assume this will have some of the humor you guys sometimes inject into your comics work? Harley seems like she could go very funny, or very dark. Where does this fall?
Palmiotti: Dark humor. Over-the-top fun, and disturbing at times.
Conner: Yes, lots of funny wrongness.
Nrama: What are your goals for her supporting cast?
Palmiotti: To add a dimension to Harley we don't get to see or have time to focus on in Suicide Squad. To give Harley her own circle of characters that belong in her world. These people will make sense to the character once you meet them. These are the kinds of people that look at her differently than most.
Conner: Her supporting cast will be less superhero-like (for now) and more like the rest of us. Kind of. We will be working all that into the storylines, and part of the entertainment will be in seeing how those characters deal with her being around.
Nrama: What are you hoping to do with the setting? How does her "location" fit with not only the comic's style, but also Harley herself?
Palmiotti: Harley will be living in an amusement park. Need I say more?
Nrama: Not really! And I don't know if the ongoing artist has been named, but Amanda... surely you're on board for this?
Conner: Oh, yes! Admittedly, I’m a bit of a control freak, and the more Jimmy and I talked about this, the more I wanted to draw it myself. I just kept picturing all the scenarios in my head, and wanted to put it down on paper. But now that we’ve found our new artist, I’m feeling really good about how it’s all going to come out!
Nrama: Amanda, you were at least involved in her new look, which we saw in the promo piece for this comic.
Conner: The way I approach any female character, superhero or otherwise, is what girl do you know that would only wear one outfit? She’ll have a few looks, but they’ll all be distinctly Harleyish.
Nrama: And then, I guess I should say congratulations, because you guys just got married, with a wedding out at sea. It looked lovely. But how was it that we all assumed you were married before you made it official?
Palmiotti: Because we've been together for over 17 years, because Wikipedia said we were, and because a lot of people wanted us to be married. We were engaged forever and we figured it was time to make it all legal and write a book together.
Nrama: So how has it been co-writing this character together, as a married couple? Any advice for other creators who might want to team-up with their spouse?
Conner: It’s a good idea to have your own space, if possible, so you’re not always completely on top of each other, to give the other person some quiet, thinking time. Also, treat the other person’s ideas with respect, no matter how ludicrous the idea may seem at the moment. There might be something really good in there that can be polished up into something great! And no condescension! Smart-assed-ness, okay, but no condescending! Hmmm, what else am I forgetting? I’m sure I’ll think of something ten minutes after this interview has gone to print!
Nrama: Maybe you guys should write a book. But to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the Harley Quinn series?
Palmiotti: I will say that the people that have trusted us in the past with characters like Power Girl will understand that we are approaching Harley with the respect the character deserves, and there will always be an element of fun to the work we do. We are huge fans of what Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created, and hope we can do them proud with this book.