Paul Dini couldn’t be happier for Harley Quinn.
Not only is she is celebrating her 25th anniversary with an all-star comic book special, she’s also taking over Batman Day on Sept. 23 from Gotham City’s resident do-gooder — a move that doesn’t surprise him, at all. If DC Comics hadn’t made the change official, Dini jokes, Harley would have done it herself.
Dini co-created the fan favorite character in 1992 alongside visionary DC Animated Universe architect Bruce Timm for Batman: The Animated Series and Harley Quinn has become one of the most beloved characters in all of comics. After headlining the live action Suicide Squad film last year, the breakout character is now being feted with the Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special, a 48-page comic book featuring stories by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones.
Dini also has a story in the special titled, “Birthday Blues,” with art by Chad Hardin. The award-winning writer and producer reveals details about the story to CBR, and also shares his thoughts on Harley’s legacy, as well as his own plans for Batman Day. And, in possibly the most exciting news of the interview, teases two more potential projects starring the Maid of Mischief.
CBR: Harley Quinn turns 25 this year. Did you know you had created something so special – and beloved – when you introduced her along with Bruce Timm back in 1992 on Batman: The Animated Series?
Paul Dini: I knew that I liked the character a lot, and I hoped that a little bit of that would shine through once she was animated. You never really have any idea how a character is going to turn out when you’re writing the thing. You just hope for the best. But when you have a good team working on the animation, that’s when the character really pops. I remember when I saw the episode of “Joker’s Favor” completely animated, I thought Harley turned out really nicely. And she came out funny and appealing and quickly became a character that we all wanted to see again so we kept in the backs of our minds that we would do another episode where she would feature in as the Joker’s helper and then after we did another couple of them, we realized that we had a character that the crew liked an awful lot and thought that she adds a lot to the Joker, so let’s keep her around.
I want to speak with you about Batman Day but first — did you know that Harley’s anniversary is actually mentioned as a “Moment” on Twitter today, alongside memorials for 9/11 and updates on Hurricane Irma and the new iPhone? That must be somewhat surreal.
She’s a moment? I didn’t notice that. [Laughs] But that’s really nice. I know a lot of people like her. I posted one panel on Twitter from my story in Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special that comes out on Wednesday and I just now saw that I have 39 notifications of people who either have something to say about that or Harley or various other Harley things so that’s cool. It’s nice knowing that she’s out there in the public consciousness. I think it’s great when I see somebody dressing up as Harley. And it puts a smile on my face when I walk into the candy store and there is a Pez dispenser with her face on it. That’s pretty neat.
In the Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special, your story is titled, “Birthday Blues” and it opens with a series of unfortunate birthday parties that are not easily forgotten by Harley. What was your worst-ever birthday?
[Laughs] I agreed to appear at a convention. I believe it was the Chicago convention over my birthday, which is August 7. And this was about maybe 17 or 18 years ago. I did the convention and it was fine, but on the actual day of my birthday, everybody else was busy with convention stuff and I was sitting in my hotel room alone because I had done all of my panels and signings and every thing else. I just ate room service. Everyone else who said they could do breakfast or something fun all cancelled, so I flew home from Chicago by myself thinking that was a pretty punk-ass birthday. Since that time, I have been really down on doing a lot of conventions. I was doing a lot more of them at that time, but after that it felt like the lonely comedian’s birthday on the road when you go out and do your jokes and then sit in your hotel room. After that, I said, “No more.”
I don’t want to spoil too much, but in your story, we learn that the Joker may not be as genuine as he presents himself – no real surprise there. But for once, couldn’t he have been sincere with his birthday surprise?
No. [Laughs] I think if the Joker had not had a conflicting robbery that night, he would have gone through with planning her birthday party, but once he had the robbery, he thought business before pleasure. But he is reminded of what his priorities are by Poison Ivy. I think Harley and Joker do have some nicer moments. The stories that I have been doing with Jimmy Palmiotti in Harley Quinn are probably about as fun and affectionate as he can get but he is the Joker after all.
You mentioned that it’s Poison Ivy that saves day and Harley’s party. She’s always enjoyed a special connection with Harley and soon the dynamic duo is heading to Riverdale to face off against Betty and Veronica for Archie’s affections. What can you reveal about this epic crossover?
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