It appears DC Comics is having second thoughts about the controversial Harley Quinn tryout page released for an “Open Talent Search” for an artist to draw part of the series’ zero issue. The script page, written by series writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, depicts the title character attempting several ways to commit suicide while sitting in a bathtub. In a statement released Thursday to the media, DC Entertainment “sincerely apologizes” for the offense nature of the script page, while arguing that the page misrepresents the full context of the story.
Since the “Open Talent Search” and script page was revealed on September 5, a number of fans and comic professionals had spoke out about the suicidal nature of the story DC was asking artists to draw. In the ensuing days, virtually everyone involved with the Harley Quinn open talent search from script co-writer Palmiotti to DC co-publisher Jim Lee attempted to defuse the situation, with Palmiotti explaining that the scene was intended to be a dream sequence in “a Mad magazine/Looney Tunes approach.”
Lee, who in addition to being DC’s co-publisher is also arguably the company’s top artist, spoke on Twitter last weekend about the scene, saying that the script wasn’t intended to “’sexual suicide’” and that the issue itself isn’t about suicide at all.
The tipping point it seems came when the American Psychiatric Association, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Alliance on Mental Illness released a joint statement picked up by mainstream press outlets such as USA Today decrying the scene for “making light of suicide” and being “potentially dangerous” for young readers.
Shortly after, DC Entertainment released the above-mentioned statement, which follows in full:
"The purpose of the talent search was to allow new artists an opportunity to draw a single page of a 20-page story. True to the nature of the character, the entire story is cartoony and over-the-top in tone, as Harley Quinn breaks the 4th Wall and satirizes the very scenes she appears in. DC Entertainment sincerely apologizes to anyone who may have found the page synopsis offensive and for not clearly providing the entire context of the scene within the full scope of the story."
This is the second controversy that has grown to surround DC in recent weeks, following the sudden departure of J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman from the Batwoman series over “eleventh hour” editorial changes and the handling of the title character’s homosexual relationship and marriage.