It was bound to happen — the Gang of Harleys from the Harley Quinn title are striking out on their own.
Introduced during "Harley Month" last year as part of the ever-popular Harley Quinn book, the Gang of Harleys is a diverse and wacky team of characters who represent the different boroughs of New York, all hired to be part of Harley's support team. From Harley Queens to Hanuqinn, the "Gang" is being featured in a spin-off mini-series starting this week, Harley Quinn & Her Gang of Harleys.
Harley Quinn co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti is joined by Frank Tieri on this six-issue series, with pencils and inks by Mauricet and colors by Hi-Fi. Newsarama talked to Palmiotti and Tieri to find out more about the new series.
Newsarama: Jimmy and Frank, how did you guys get together for this project?
Jimmy Palmiotti: When Amanda and I were working on the regular series with the gang of Harleys, we were having fun with the characters, but the book is still named Harley Quinn. And actually, Dan [DiDio, DC co-publisher,] suggested that it might be fun to spin-off the characters into a mini-series, so we can not only get to know the characters but see them in action without depending on Harley being in the picture at all time.
So when we were talking about it, we realized that the story would mostly take place within the Harley books — this is like a part of the regular Harley series, in a way. So it's still happening in real time.
And I think… Frank, how did you get involved with this?
Tieri: Well, clearly, this whole Harley thing wasn't working for Jimmy and Amanda.
Tieri: [Laughs.] So they had to bring me in, obviously, to save the franchise. It wasn't working out, so they needed me. You know what I mean?
No, I think, honestly, Jimmy and I were just talking. And you know, most of the stuff we do together is what we call "bar books" — stuff we talk about in a bar. And I think he just, he said, listen, we're thinking of spinning off Gang of Harleys. Would you want to be involved? And I said of course.
Palmiotti: Frank and I are close friends, obviously. And he actually reads the books, once you force him to. Which is fantastic.
I also hought it would be good to open up some room for Amanda as well, because she's got the art end of the books, dealing with the other series. And for me, it was working with someone I not only like, but he understands the characters.
Nrama: And you're both from New York too, which help with the Gang of Harleys, who are from all the different parts of New York, right?
Palmiotti: Yeah, he understands the world the characters are in, which is really important to the story. As I said, most of the book takes place in the New York area. With the regular Harley series, we try our best to be very loyal to the fact that these are real places. And it's a real city with real set pieces.
And especially since these characters are all based on different people in different boroughs — you know, we cover the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and even Staten Island at one point.
So we just wanted to make sure it was something that sounded right, was the right match.
I've worked with Frank before, and it's fun, and the theme of the book is crazy fun. There's nobody crazier and more fun than Frank.
Tieri: We have a similar sense of humor, and that helps. Like Jimmy said, we've worked together before, and it just works.
And like you said, we're New Yorkers. We know the area, and I think New York is almost like another character in Harley. You know what I mean? So it helps that we're both from the area.
Nrama: We've met the characters in Harley, and there are a few of them, as you said, each from a different borough. For people who aren't familiar with these characters, can they pick up the book and still get a story out of it?
Palmiotti: We spend the first few pages making sure, first, that we bring everybody up to date, what's going on in the regular series, and how the girls came to be.
And then on page 2, we broke it down to seven panels where each girl is introduced, and we learn a little bit about them.
So by the time we get to the splash on page 3, we figure anybody who's never read it will be able to follow it. And anybody who has been reading it might gain a little more insight into the characters.
And then we did something subtle— I don't know if it's subtle, but — the original characters in our series have all been wearing variations of Harley's outfit, so it's red and black with the diamonds or the stars on it. And what we did, with each character, is we made them different colors, the outfits, just for the … you know, the Power Rangers fans out there. [Laughs.]
We just wanted to make it easy to follow. And again, everything about this book is to get a new reader comfortable following the series. And when you introduce seven new characters, there's a lot to do.
It's easy to launch an Avengers title, where everybody knows who those characters are, but to launch a book like this, it takes a little work on the front end. So we did the work on the front end of the book.
And once that's established, you can kind of kick into the rest of the book and follow pretty much everybody. And Frank and I have spent a lot of time making sure each character has a distinctive personality.
Tieri: And that's definitely one of the main things about this book, is to find out who these characters are. One of the themes of the book is that they don't want to just be in Harley Quinn's shadow. And it's one of the things Harley wants to see from them, is that they become their own individuals.
And that's one of the themes in the series.
Nrama: You mentioned "crazy fun". I assume it will still be plenty funny, like the regular series?
Palmiotti: Yeah, the humor is probably a little more crazy because of Frank on this book. 'Cause Frank definitely takes it some places that Amanda and I haven't.
Tieri: Yeah, every now and then they have to tell me, yeah, you can't do that.
Palmiotti: Yeah, there are a lot of phone calls where I'm saying, "Frank, are you out of your mind?" That's never going to happen. I don't even know if we could get that drawn.
Nrama: Giving Mauricet some challenges?
Palmiotti: Yeah! Mauricet is penciling and inking the book, and he has to draw the craziness we're giving him.
We kind of work it out and put it in the script, and then he has to draw it, and then he starts writing us — and he lives in Europe — and he starts writing us, like, "what's wrong with you guys?" And it's kind of a fun conversation.
But you know, the thing about the book is, at the end of the day, we want to entertain. So we want to make sure it's easy to follow, you can get into it pretty easily.
So yeah, there's some crazy stuff, but I think that's what people have grown to expect from this character.
Tieri: Jimmy and Amanda — all joking aside from what I said earlier, all joking aside — I think they've been doing this Harley Quinn thing OK. I think they actually do have a handle on it.
Palmiotti: Oh, good.
Tieri: So they don't need me to come in and start screwing things up.
Yes, it's a bit more over-the-top than typical Harley, but I think fans of Harley will very much recognize the book and the humor in there.
Nrama: Anything else you wanted to add?
Palmiotti: The book has two editions that are both cover price. So it has the purple cover by Amanda, and then it has a second edition where Amanda did a cover that you can draw on. It's like Harley Quinn holding a frame. And behind it it has the Gang of Harleys done by different impressionistic artists. It's no extra cost. People can pick it up. They can draw whatever they want in that spot.
Tieri: Those are going to be in high demand. People are going to be stabbing their mothers for those.
Palmiotti: Yeah, a lot of mother stabbing.
Frank said that. I didn't say that. Frank said it. That's his quote. Not mine.
So yeah, the cover, but even inside the book — we have a dream team on this book. We've got Mauricet penciling and inking it. We have some of the best colors in the business with the guys at Hi-Fi, and Dave Sharpe lettering it. We've got a dream team on the book, so we're really proud of how this looks. And even more proud as the issues go on — they get better each issue. That's something I'm always excited about.