Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner want to apologize right now for possibly insulting your hometown in this week's Harley Quinn Road Trip Special #1, the latest adventure by the two writers that takes Harley — and a few friends — on a road trip across America.
The oversized issue is in the same vein as the pair's off-the-wall Harley Quinn ongoing series, but this time co-stars Catwoman and Poison Ivy. Conner and Palmiotti will be working with Bret Blevins, Mike Manley and Moritat on art.
But the issue will also give Harley Quinn fans a glimpse into Harley's background, as the trip begins with the character visiting the home of her uncle and remembering some of her childhood. Newsarama talked to Palmiotti and Conner to find out more.
Newsarama: Jimmy and Amanda, what was the idea behind doing a road trip issue?
Amanda Conner: Actually, for my birthday, Jimmy took me out to the desert.
Jimmy Palmiotti: And I didn't shoot her and bury her, like all the other "goombahs."
Conner: [Laughs.] It's something I had wanted to do for the longest time. I had wanted to go out and see the Grand Canyon and see all the national parks and stuff like that.
That's where the idea sprouted from. What I love to do — even if we're local, in town — is just go for a drive. We just get in the car and we go somewhere. And when we're in the car, we're not burdened by emails and work and stuff. So it's pretty freeing. We just thought that would translate really well into a Harley Quinn story.
Nrama: Harley and Ivy are a pretty common team-up, but why did you want to include Catwoman in this adventure?
Conner: Because it just seemed natural. We were saying, it's really fun with Harley and Ivy. It's really, really, really fun with Harley, Ivy and Catwoman. So it seems pretty natural to throw her into the madness mix.
Palmioltti: And at cons, we had a lot of fans asking when Selina's going to come into the book. "When are you guys going to go there with her?"
The idea behind the book is that Harley's uncle passed away, and she has to head from the East Coast to the West Coast and pick up something at her uncle's house and take the road trip back through the United States on… what is that called…?
Conner: An Airstream trailer.
Palmiotti: An Airstream trailer.
And she calls Ivy, and we thought, well, you know… two is fun, and three may be chaos. So we thought this would be a good time to get Catwoman in there without the story being about Gotham or anything like that. We could take Catwoman out of Gotham for a while and put the three of them someplace they're not used to and have them travel across the United States.
At that point, the book can kind of write itself! And it pretty much did, on a lot of levels.
Nrama: Are the places they're visiting based on real places?
Palmiotti: Yes. Every single place is an actual place.
And we apologize in advance to all these towns and places we visited for bringing chaos to them.
But we actually — Amanda and I — we got a map and we planned out their route they would take from Los Angeles to head back to, eventually they have to go to Long Island.
Conner: It's not really direct, but it is fun.
Palmiotti: Yeah, we tried to hit certain places.
But it is actually an honest-to-god road trip story, where they are going through the United States.
And this is a book that, honestly, if they gave us 40 more pages, it would have been a no-brainer to write it, because there was so much material.
Conner: Yeah, we almost didn't have enough pages, and we were like, yeah, we could have gone way farther with it.
Palmiotti: We found ourselves wanting to do things and we realized, there's no way we're going to hit the 38 page mark, at this point, if we add that scene. So we had to kind of take stuff out, which one day, maybe there will be "Road Trip Double-XL."
Nrama: Or a whole mini-series, like you did between two panels with Power Girl and Harley.
I will give away a little bit. They do pick up a hitchhiking Jimmy Olsen and Bizarro at one point, and play truth or dare with them.
That's all I'm going to tell you.
Nrama: This comic also gives you the opportunity to work with a lot of artists. Were they knocking on your door, or was it easy to get them on board?
Conner: We were kind of knocking on their door, actually.
Palmiotti: Yeah. Well, Bret Blevins is somebody that we've always loved as an artist, and for the past bunch of years, he's been in animation. We pulled him from a better paying job to do this book with us.
But his style just fit the story so well, so we're really happy to have Bret involved, and Mike Manley, who is inking Bret.
And then my old buddy from All-Star Western, Moritat, comes in and does a little sequence in there that will definitely stand out when you see it.
There is a sequence where they drink what they shouldn't have drank. And stuff goes on.
So we definitely went after the artists. And we pretty much do that with every book. We can't really write it until we know who's drawing it. And we try to cater the writing to the artist's strengths, and I think we get a better book in the long run.
Nrama: Then before we go, is there anything else you want to add?
Palmiotti: We apologize for probably insulting people on some level. Because people in L.A. — there is traffic everywhere. It's not our fault we pick on it. Who else do we pick on in the book? Never pick up hitchhikers.
Conner: Right. Don't drink things from bottles where you don't understand the markings.
Palmiotti: Yes! And you know, I will say this: This book does give us a look back to Harley's life before she became Harley Quinn, with the main part of the story being about her childhood uncle and when she grew up. So it does actually bring something to long-time Harley fans — a little something extra beside the usual madness. A little insight to why Harley is Harley. So I think that's a little unexpected treat in there that we can tell Newsarama fans.