Welcome to the four hundred and ninety-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and ninety. This week, how did Joker jumping (or NOT jumping) out of a cake lead to the creation of Harley Quinn? Is there a completed issue of Lobo by Frank Quitely that has never been published? And finally, did Frank Miller name James Gordon’s wife Barbara in honor of Miller writing Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon out of continuity as Gordon’s daughter?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Harley Quinn came about because Paul Dini and Bruce Timm needed someone to jump out of a cake.
Last week, I discussed about how Paul Dini was inspired by an episode of Days of Our Lives to create Harley Quinn.
Reader Eric Henry asked:
I’d always heard that Harley Quinn was created because they originally planned to have the Joker pop out of a birthday cake but decided that they was too creepy, so they created a female henchman (henchperson?) to do it instead. She was originally generic and only given the distinctive Harley personality later.
How does this story tie in with the part being specifically written for Sorkin?
That is, in fact, exactly what happened in Joker’s Favor, the episode where Harley Quinn debuted…
There is a scene where Joker crashes a testimonial to Commissioner Gordon and originally the Joker was going to jump out of the cake but Paul Dini and Bruce Timm thought that might seem a bit odd, so they decided to create a female henchman to do it instead.
In the end, Timm thought it’d be funnier if the Joker DID jump out of the cake, so that’s what they ended up doing…
But that was why Dini wanted to come up with a female henchman. But it was just with that in mind that he was inspired by the old episode of Days of Our Lives. It is true that Harley’s role in the episode is not nearly as developed as her later appearances, but I think even in that first episode she is roughly based on Arleen Sorkin, so I don’t think the two stories conflict.
But it is a cool story, so thanks for reminding me of it!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Did How I Met Your Mother work in an insult of the series by star Jason Segel into an episode of the show?
On the next page, is there an unpublished issue of Lobo by Frank Quitely?
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