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CBR TV @ SDCC: Conner & Palmiotti Talk "Harley Quinn," "Starfire" & Forging Their Own Path

After years of trying, CBR TV finally presents the first joint interview featuring fan-favorite creators Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. The "Harley Quinn" writers sat down with Jonah Weiland aboard the world famous CBR Floating Tiki Room from Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss everything from Conner's anal retentive nature to their mission statement for their newest DC series, "Starfire." They also talk about their desire to tell something other than traditional superhero stories and discuss Palmiotti's little-known history with Congressman John Lewis' acclaimed "March" graphic novels.

Conner & Palmiotti Explore "Harley Quinn's" Surprising Success

In the first part of this wide-ranging interview, Conner & Palmiotti can't help but laugh when talking about the former's inability to let small details go, slowing down everything from her own art to their ability to get a mailbox -- including the story of how they went all the way to New Zealand to get one. They also talk about what happens when Palmiotti and fellow writer Frank Tieri get in the same room together.

On Conner's anal retentive nature carrying through to her art and writing:

Amanda Conner: That's why it takes me forever to do a page because I'm like noodling everything to death.

Jimmy Palmiotti: Also in her writing. For instance, we had in "Starfire" #4 or #5 somebody gets chucked into the ocean, into the Gulf of Mexico. So I said, "They chuck them south, and it's two miles south, and they land here." And she says, "Actually, I researched it and it's not deep enough water." So she said, "Toss them southwest."

Conner: Directly due west, 161 miles and it'll go down to over 9,000 feet.

Palmiotti: So this is why everything takes forever, because I can't just throw somebody in the water. I have to have it where she's telling me, "Well it's actually 160-some miles."

Conner: Well, not if they're the size of Godzilla because then they could just stand up. [Laughs]

Palmiotti: And it's like it never ends, and this is with everything. ... And that's why she doesn't do the interiors of books as much.

Conner: I love doing interiors. It's my favorite thing of all to do, but I do them rarely because of this... whole thing.

In the second part of the conversation, the co-writing team talks about how "Harley Quinn" opened numerous doors at DC Comics, both for them on books like "Starfire" and some of the more experimental DC You titles released in recent weeks. They also discuss why "Starfire" is deliberately not a traditional superhero series and the one rule they hold above all others as they approach their stories.

On whether "Harley Quinn" paved the way for their new "Starfire" series:

Palmiotti: With "Starfire," Dan [DiDio] just approached us and said, "What would you guys do with it?" Again, we had to go back and read all the Scott Lobdell stuff from the New 52 and we said we could kind of make it a mix. I mean you had the old George Perez and was it Marv Wolfman?

Conner: Yeah, when Marv Wolfman and George Perez were doing the old "Teen Titans," I used to read that. I wanted to get a little of that feeling into the character again.

Palmiotti: And we watched the cartoon.

Conner: The cartoon's awesome.

Palmiotti: We just figured if we could amalgam this and we told DC, "It's not gonna be a traditional superhero [book], just so you know. Don't start yelling at us six issues in, 'What are you doing?' because we're just gonna make it a fun book. There are bad guys and there are other characters coming into it." I said, "If you give us the room, we'd like to do something different. That's why we have a lot of chapter breaks and there's a lot of emojis and all that kind of stuff. We're experimenting.

Conner: And we're trying to sort of get into her brain a little bit. Like, what do you do when you're not from the planet and you're trying to get to know all the people.

On making "Starfire" something other than a traditional superhero story right from the beginning:

Palmiotti: The book is about her trying to settle in with humans. We thought having a bad guy pop up right away isn't really what happens in the real world all the time. And again, of course, buddying her up with the sheriff leaves the door open for stuff to come in. We thought the idea of taking this powerful character and putting this powerful character and putting her into a situation where she's powerless -- against a hurricane -- might make the reader understand who she is quicker.

And again we have one issue to sell you on the concept or not. That's why we did the two-page origin in the front. "Here's where she's from. Get over it. Now move on to the story." But with any first issue you're feeling it out.

Conner: We're just finishing up the fourth [issue] now. I was like, "Now we're starting to really get into our groove with the character."

Palmiotti: Everybody's got an opinion about how it should be done, and they tell you.

Conner: It's a little bit more mature than "Teen Titans GO!" But it's not quite as hardcore as "Harley." It's a good in between.

Palmiotti: We have a rule: If you don't care about her, you probably won't read the book. When doing a series like this we have to make sure you really care about her right away, otherwise why would you buy #2?

In the final part of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's conversation with CBR TV, Palmiotti talks about comparisons between Image Comics and his own Event Comics effort in the mid-1990s as well as his secret history with Top Shelf's "March" graphic novels.

On how Palmiotti helped Congressman John Lewis' "March" get off the ground:

Palmiotti: The Congressman and Andrew [Aydin] were at Dragon Con and they came up and they talked about how they wanted to do this graphic novel -- what should they do, who should they do it with -- and I hooked them up with Top Shelf. I said, "Go over there. That's where you want this story published because they'll be able to handle the political themes on it." I just kind of guided them over. ... Those two books are amazing. I'm happy to be part of moving it somewhere, but I don't really have much to do with it other than shuffling it and making sure it was in the right hands. ... It was an easy suggestion to bring it to Top Shelf.

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