As part of a new creative team on Harley Quinn, series artist Inaki Miranda finds himself laughing out loud while drawing from Frank Tieri's scripts. But along with the humor, Miranda's also challenging himself artistically to get Harley's facial expressions and body language just right for the new run, which kicks off with next week's Harley Quinn #35.
Tieri and Miranda will be taking the reins from the co-writing duo of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, who launched the popular title in 2013 and guided several spin-offs and tie-ins since.
But as Tieri told Newsarama, the hilarity of Harley Quinn will continue as before, even as the new team involves Harley and her cohorts more in the DCU. For Miranda, that means he'll be drawing a bat-version of Harley, as the first storyline brings her into conflict with Man-Bat.
Newsarama talked to Miranda to find out more about his run, why he's challenged by the Gang of Harleys, and what else readers can expect from his and Tieri's run on Harley Quinn.
Newsarama: What is the key to drawing Harley’s character well and capturing her unique spirit?
Inaki Miranda: I think, for me, the key is to see her as a free spirit that can reach the whole spectrum of emotions and go from one end to the opposite in seconds, she reacts instantly to what happens in front of her; she is very transparent with her facial expressions and can’t hide her thoughts.
I feel that what makes her such a lovable character is that she can represent the freedom to be whoever we feel like being, anytime. Much like a child, she will do whatever she feels like doing without worrying about what people will think about her. I think we can all connect with that yearning. She has this rock star aura, like David Bowie, or Freddy Mercury, that is liberating.
She wears whatever she feels like wearing, walks however she feels like, carries a bat, shotgun cartridges on her belt, etc. Her world is a bit like the one in Tarantino’s Kill Bill, where the bride can carry a katana inside a commercial flight. It’s a world with its own rules, and in a way, this makes you feel free when you create/read Harley’s stories. That’s the soul that I’m really interested in exploring and uncovering.
Nrama: I can see why it would seem exciting to have that kind of freedom, drawing her unusual antics. But is it challenging too? What are the greatest challenges of drawing the unusual stories surrounding Harley?
Miranda: For me it’s drawing the Gang of Harleys, because they usually appear all together in the same panel and that’s a lot of characters! This was a challenge for me. But at the same time I had a really fun time making each of them act and react to what was going on in the scenes. They deliver a great comic rhythm and I usually found myself really getting inside their minds and exploring how they would each be standing or what faces they would be making. Nrama: Have you altered your style for this comic at all? Or done something that's unique for this character and her world? Miranda: I feel my style is still developing, so I guess it might feel a bit different. I tried to make my inking a bit more crisp and play a little bit more with the hatching than usual.
What I did try to upgrade particularly were my facial expressions. I felt that for Harley I needed to work beyond the subtleness and focus more in the evident physicality of Harley’s expressions/emotions. As if she were a mime. I worked in pushing her expressions and body language just enough to make her act her words or thoughts out, but just not so much that it looses the connection with reality. I imagined I was drawing a woman with a “Bugs Bunny” mind, if that makes any sense.
Nrama: You talked earlier about how anything can happen in this world. Have you been surprised by any of the characters or scenes you’ve drawn?
Miranda: Well, I was first surprised when I found out that I was going to draw the bat-version of Harley, which is awesome and just right up my alley and total fun to do. And I love Coney Island’s Boardwalk as a backdrop; I love the open space it brings to the compositions.
However, my major surprise came from the opportunity to draw the Arkham Asylum. That for me was a big check in my personal bucket list. It’s a short scene, but I enjoyed every second of it.
Nrama: We talked to Frank Tieri about his plan for the series. How has it been for you, working with Frank Tieri on Harley?
Miranda: I had already worked with Frank in our Catwoman run, and I felt we clicked instantly. It's fantastic to be working with him again; he is such an experienced writer, I feel my part is always on safe ground with him and it never gets visually boring. It’s very natural for me to focus in creating visual rhythm with his scripts.
On Harley Quinn, Frank’s dialogues and situations are funny as hell and so sharp; and incredibly entertaining. I found myself laughing out loud while drawing. My real challenge has been to try to draw the characters as funny as they appear in the script. There’s a scene where Red Tool is spying on Harley that is just hilarious. And that’s just one of many.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about working on Harley?
Miranda: I’m really excited and thankful with the opportunity DC has given me. My goal is to try to maintain the level of quality this book has been offering for so long.
And I would love to start a tradition of putting soundtracks to the interviews. Let’s end this one with “We Will Rock You” by Queen.