Chad Hardin

Few comic book char­ac­ters have bro­ken out in re­cent years quite like Har­ley Quinn. Abi­gail Chan­dler in­ves­ti­gates the se­cret of the char­ac­ter’s suc­cess with her cur­rent artist...

Comic Heroes - - Contents -

Har­ley Quinn’s artist on the love­able loon.

Comic He­roes: What do you think it is about Har­ley that makes so many comic fans em­brace her?

Chad Hardin: Well es­sen­tially, Har­ley’s just her own force of na­ture. She’s com­pletely lov­able, com­pletely toxic and does what­ever she wants and some­how man­ages to get away with it. I think there’s a lot of ap­peal to that. Es­pe­cially for some girls who maybe strug­gle to have that in their lives, some­times things are pushed upon them, roles and things like that. Maybe they get that wish ful­fil­ment through a char­ac­ter like Har­ley.

CH: The comic has been a mas­sive suc­cess for you all...

Chad: I know! We’re do­ing bet­ter than we ever dreamed, which is great.

CH: You, Amanda and Jimmy keep such a fun tone to Har­ley Quinn, but there’s the po­ten­tial to go very dark with her, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing her ori­gin story. How do you keep the bal­ance?

Chad: If you go back to Mad Love, which is Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s ori­gin story for her, orig­i­nally she was there to take ad­van­tage of the Joker and the Joker flipped that on her, you know what I mean? And so re­ally it’s an abu­sive, toxic re­la­tion­ship, and like all abu­sive, toxic re­la­tion­ships it’s doomed to end in fail­ure. And I think the thing we’re do­ing with Har­ley in this book is that she re­alises that. And she’s ba­si­cally get­ting out from un­der­neath the Joker’s shadow and be­ing her own per­son. She’s no longer just his side­kick do­ing the things that he wants her to do. She’s out do­ing things com­pletely au­tonomously and for her­self. And so that’s a good mes­sage too. We’ve all been in

bad re­la­tion­ships and we just need to learn to let go.

And here’s the thing, ev­ery now and then it’s fun to re­visit it as well. We re­vis­ited the re­la­tion­ship for “Fu­tures End” and we ba­si­cally had them both try­ing to kill each other at the same time they’re get­ting mar­ried, so I mean it’s good in the fact that it’s car­toon, we can poke fun at it, but it’s also good that it’s not a real life sit­u­a­tion. You know – the anvil fall­ing on Wile E Coy­ote’s head.

CH: There are so many ver­sions of Har­ley across dif­fer­ent me­dia – does that feed into your in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the char­ac­ter, or do you keep her sep­a­rate?

Chad: You know, we’ve re­ally just wanted to ba­si­cally play with the char­ac­ter that Bruce and Paul cre­ated for the an­i­mated se­ries. That’s the char­ac­ter we’re play­ing with. If you look at the Har­ley that’s in Sui­cide Squad, [she’s] com­pletely dif­fer­ent to our one. Dif­fer­ent tone, dif­fer­ent sen­si­bil­i­ties. They’ve cre­ated this weird sit­u­a­tion where I would never go with the char­ac­ter just be­cause... well, let’s face it, where Har­ley first ap­peared was the an­i­mated se­ries. If you’re talk­ing about the core of the char­ac­ter, I think that’s it. I was at Comic Con and I saw the Sui­cide Squad Har­ley – re­ally dark. Re­ally dark, re­ally men­ac­ing, more evil. Whereas in the an­i­mated se­ries, she’s not that bad, she’s just sort of mis­guided.

CH: What do you think makes a char­ac­ter break out in the way Har­ley has?

Chad: There’s prob­a­bly thou­sands of char­ac­ters that any­one who was pas­sion­ate about could take and bring to the fore­front. And that’s what it takes. I think one of the things that makes Har­ley suc­cess­ful is that Jimmy and Amanda ba­si­cally said “We’re go­ing to do Har­ley, but we’re go­ing to do Har­ley our way.” They re­ally just said “We’re not go­ing to pay any at­ten­tion to what peo­ple have done be­fore, we’re go­ing to do this the way we want to do it.” I think more creators need to roll the dice like that, be­cause some­times you get so caught up in pay­ing homage to what’s been done in the past that you be­come the cliché. It would be nice to see some new life brought into some of the DC char­ac­ters and played with a bit more.

We re­ally wanted to play with the char­ac­ter from the an­i­mated se­ries

Right: Har­leyQuinn com­pellingly ex­plores a range of re­la­tion­ships very dif­fer­ent from the toxic one be­tween Har­ley and the Joker..

Born Las Ve­gas, USA

High Blu e Bee­tle, Dr Fate

Now Har­ley Quinn

More hardi­nart­stu­dios.

Above: Har­ley Quinn is the best-sell­ing fe­male char­ac­ter in comics, thanks in no small part to her free­wheel­ing, un­pre­dictable style.

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