by Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
Comic conventions draw huge crowds for a reason. While there’s cosplayers, limited edition items and celebrity guests, it’s the panels that truly bring cons to life. Planet Comicon in Kansas City had an amazing lineup of panels including John Barrowman, Jim Beaver, and Ron Perlman giving audiences glimpses into their true personalities instead of the legendary personas they play on screens across the world.
Comic fans were treated to a Harley Quinn panel Saturday afternoon featuring the creative team behind the Harley Quinn 52 and Rebirth comic lines – artists Chad Hardin and Amanda Conner, writer Jimmy Palmiotti, DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio, and Bombshells designer Ant Lucia.
The panel covered all things Harley Quinn, from the decision to relaunch the comic in 2013 to the popularity it has gained as a powerhouse stand-alone in a DC lineup that features multiple characters such as Batman and Superman. Throughout the panel, the team traded jokes and quips, making it feel conversational and like the panel was truly a part of the fans packed into the room.
Conner and Palmiotti gave insight into what it was like to bring Harley Quinn back with her own comic nearly four years ago. DiDio explained that during a retailers meeting he wondered what could be DC’s version of Deadpool and a retailer in attendance told them they had their own Deadpool in Harley Quinn.
Palmiotti happened to be at the meeting and DiDio pitched the idea to him, asking if Palmiotti and Conner would be interested in relaunching the character based on the character from “Batman: The Animated Series” as opposed to a very serious and dour version in comic books.
“She’s always like a supporting cast, she’s just the Joker’s girlfriend, she’s just one of the Batman characters,” Palmiotti explained. “So the proposal was that we take her away from Gotham and create her own character, her own personality and her own location.”
DiDio accepted and plans were made to launch Harley Quinn as part of DC’s “New 52” relaunch. The idea was to have multiple artists work on the comic’s #0 launch title artwork and pick her own – and that’s how they ended up stumbling on Hardin.
Hardin explained his excitement at the selection, joking that he had worked on DC’s “best titles,” such as Blue Beetle, before being selected as the artist for Harley Quinn.
DiDio also segued into how Lucia’s Bombshells have become a popular version of Harley. Lucia’s art is based around “nose art” designs, or the art found along the nose of warplanes during World War II. The art started as a statue line for DC with variant covers based on Lucia’s style being used for some new releases before becoming a comic of its own.
Late in the panel, the team joked about how Conner’s ideas for art keep the DC legal department in business. Always looking to push the envelope, DiDio made a joke about how the editors know he’s friends with Conner and Palmiotti so they ask him to talk to the pair about their ideas. DiDio shared one story in particular pertaining to the Rebirth launch last year, noting Harley Quinn was going well so there was no need for that.
“So, we’re doing Rebirth and because we weren’t going to change much with Harley Quinn we didn’t want to do a Rebirth zero,” he explained. “But we didn’t want to leave it out, so I made a joke saying ‘maybe what we should do is “Harley Quinn Afterbirth”’ and that’s all I said, and then my fax machine comes across.”
He pitched the story to Conner, who continued.
“So it’s Harley Quinn with her legs in stir-ups, screaming, because she’s giving birth,” she said to break for the crowd’s laughter. “And she’s giving birth to ‘Harley Quinn Rebirth #1,’ and like (supporting characters) Tony and Ivy are horrified.”
The panel gave fans a big glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of what goes into a comic. The welcoming nature of the panel definitely showed the strength DC has built behind the Harley Quinn comic. There was a sense of the creative synergy between the major players apparent while giving fans of the series a panel they won’t soon forget.