For the past eight months, Jimmy Palmiotti and his partner and co-writer Amanda Conner have been penning the comedic and harrowing adventures of DC Comics’ “Harley Quinn,” setting the Gotham City siren afoul of assassins, geriatric Russian gangsters and her own demented mind.
Working with artist Chad Hardin, the series’ has seen Harley move to Coney Island, bond with new supporting characters like the ancient ex-spy/cyborg Sy Borgman and reacquaint herself with old friends like Poison Ivy. With Harley’s world and the title’s madcap tone well established, Palmiotti, Conner and Hardin are set to deal a double dose of “Harley Quinn” when the series ships twice in August before sending their gal ahead in time five years and face to face with the Joker for September’s “Harley Quinn: Futures End” one-shot.
Speaking with CBR about his homicidal honey, Palmiotti discussed the relationship at the heart of his and Conner’s “Futures End” story, Harley’s growing supporting cast and what’s coming next in “Harley Quinn.”
CBR News: With the question of who has been trying to kill Harley resolved in this latest issue, what can you tell us about the story beginning with the double-shipment in August? Will there still be lingering threads (and assassins) from the first issues?
Jimmy Palmiotti: The book itself is only double shipping for a month right now because we have specials and an annual, but it is a continuing adventure that revolves around her cast of colorful characters, her two jobs, a friend’s son making his way home and a superhero getting punched into our universe. There will always be a random assassin, but we have some big plans coming soon that we know fans will fall in love with.
Do the two August issues go together, telling a single story?
They are continuing adventures that are connected monthly; each issue has a complete story, yet parts of each continue with the issue after. Our first year of Harley is one big story, not based on a single event. The series is a slice of life/reality show following Harley’s crazy day-to-day adventures. It’s not always about who is the bad guy of the month, but more about following the world’s most interesting character as she makes her way through life day in and day out. I think the worst thing we can do on this book is make it about who her guest star is each issue and take the focus away from her. We are trying something different here and so far people seem to be along for the ride.
In these last few issues, readers got to experience some primo Ivy/Harley hangout time, and the September issue will have Joker. Are there other faces from Harley’s past you’re planning on bringing in? And which pairing was more fun to tackle — the two ex-Gotham City sirens or Harley and her Mistah J?
I have to say we enjoyed writing Harley and Ivy together because it’s a lot easier to understand the friendship they have between them. With the Joker, it’s a mixed bag of romance that has to find the right balance, and although we have a lot of fun playing Harley in a lot of different ways, writing her submissive and blindsided is not something we are going to do so much in the September “Futures End” issue, though the crush is still there. This Harley is not the submissive Harley from the past, that will take anything the Joker throws at her. This Harley understands the Joker a bit better and when push comes to shove, she is going to be shoving right back.
Over these first seven issues, you’ve surrounded Harley with neighbors and allies like Big Tony and Sy Borgman. How do you approach creating the book’s supporting cast? What is it that makes someone a good foil for Harley, and what was the inspiration behind these characters?
With Tony, we needed someone that was surrounded by different types of people all day long and understood to look deeper at the person to see the good and bad and having him run a sideshow makes total sense. Tony judges by actions and has a soft spot for Harley because he understands her madness.
As far as Sy Borgman, he happened for a number of reasons. Harley needed a character that is older and wiser, and we were thinking out loud that for some reason, there never seems to be many older characters in comics.
Sy was an idea I had a long time ago, and when we started Harley, we just thought he was a perfect fit. When I was younger and living in Brooklyn, there would be rows and rows of older Jewish and Italian men and woman, sitting outside on the sidewalks of Brooklyn ready to tell you all about their lives at the drop of a knish. We thought having a character like this would make Harley’s life more colorful, give her someone to look up to — almost a parent, in a way — and then we came up with the idea that Sy was a super spy and it went from there. Coming up in a few issues, we see Sy again, giving Harley some advice that is very needed. It’s important to have a good supporting cast around a character, and with Ivy and the others, she is in good hands.
How does the collaboration between you, Amanda and Chad work when it comes to things like designing new characters? Does Amanda give artistic input, or does Chad give story and plot input?
We are a real team. All of us contribute to the finished book. Amanda and I work as hard as we can to give Chad as much as we can, and then he adds his own magic to the mix and what we get is one of the wildest books each month. Amanda does have some visuals in mind, and Chad usually gets to see them on the covers she does in advance, but Chad is also a brilliant artist and knows what to keep and what to build on. We trust him, and especially we trust [colorist] Alex Sinclair to kill it each and every month. I think the team-up of them both creates something we haven’t seen before in a comic book. There are storytelling timing issues that we present that are handled so beautifully, we are always in constant awe.
“Harley Quinn: Future’s End” promises Joker and Harley will be together ’til death do them part (which looks like it’ll come sooner rather than later). What can you say about the issue? Will it tie into any of the other titles or main action happening in the “Future’s End” weekly series?
The issue will tie in with the other titles through its theme, that the story takes place five years from now. We felt there was no real reason to interact with some of the other titles because this is her adventure, not someone else’s. What happens here is exclusive to the series, and we felt that there was no real reason to do it any other way.
Speaking of Harley in other places, after her voice-only cameo last season, television fans are holding out hope that Harley Quinn may appear in the next season of “Arrow.” As one of the “Harley Quinn” writers, what would you hope to see in a live TV version of the character, versus your comic or the original animated series?
What would be interesting to see would be a spinoff series of her own, but maybe with more humor and fun as part of the mix. I think it’s easy to just make her the homicidal killer, but after a while, you would grow bored with her. I would try to mix what we do here in our monthlies into a story starting off in Gotham and the roots of the character and then take her someplace where she would be the star of her own story. A weekly series would be just awesome.
Finally, is there anything you’re especially excited for fans to see in the next “Harley Quinn” issues, or any other projects or comic that fans should keep an eye out for?
We have a special guest star coming up in issues 11-13 that fans of some of mine and Amanda’s work from the past will be getting a big kick out of. We have a lot of subplots that are coming together, and there is much romance in Harley’s future as well.
Other than that, I would ask that fans of the book please give my other title that I write along with Justin Gray, “Star-Spangled War Stories” featuring G.I. ZOMBIE, a shot this July. I think you will find this book to be unlike any other you have read. It’s a strange mix of dark humor and zombie action.
Last, this August is the final issue of “All-Star Western” featuring Jonah Hex, and it’s a powerful end to our long run with the character drawn by Darwyn Cooke and colored by Dave Stewart. Both of these guys have more Eisners than I have teeth — just wait till you see how beautiful this book is. I am super excited about it.
“Harley Quinn” #8 hits shelves July 16.