Joseph McCabe meets Paul Dini, cre­ator of Har­ley Quinn

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

An ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Har­ley Quinn’s co-cre­ator.

While no Bat­man foe since the Dark Knight’s golden age has had quite the cul­tural im­pact of Har­ley Quinn, maybe it’s a lit­tle un­fair to call her a vil­lain. The for­mer Dr Harleen Quinzel – a psy­chi­a­trist who car­ried her fas­ci­na­tion with the Joker a lit­tle too far – is re­ally a free-spir­ited an­ti­hero, a love­able sprite who was led astray by her “Mis­tah J”.

Writer-pro­ducer Paul Dini cre­ated Har­ley for Bat­man: The An­i­mated Se­ries in the ’90s, and partly based her on his friend, ac­tress and come­di­enne Ar­leen Sorkin; who voiced the char­ac­ter through­out the show’s run.

“I knew I wanted a hench­girl in one episode,” Dini tells SFX. “And I felt it was a char­ac­ter that Ar­leen could play re­ally well. I had seen her play a jester char­ac­ter in a fan­tasy se­quence on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. I thought, ‘That’s re­ally funny. Maybe I’ll use some of that for the hench­girl char­ac­ter…’

“I told Ar­leen that Har­ley was ba­si­cally a snappy blonde but kind of a bad girl. Sort of a cross be­tween the way­ward girls that would fol­low around the Rid­dler and the Joker and the Pen­guin in the 1966 se­ries – the hench­women types – and a lit­tle bit of the gum-crack­ing wise­girl/wiseguy type, Miss Ade­laide in Guys And Dolls.”

find­ing a voice

Sorkin’s own voice con­trib­uted to Har­ley’s sassy at­ti­tude. “She has an East Coast ac­cent,” laughs Dini. “She just pushed it a lit­tle bit. She brought a lit­tle bit of a Judy Hol­l­i­day type flut­ter into it.”

Har­ley’s char­ac­ter break­through came when her cre­ator de­cided she could be even fun­nier than the Joker…

“I re­ally didn’t have any plans for her other than the hench­girl who was bet­ter at get­ting laughs out of the other gang mem­bers than the Joker was. That was sort of the start of who the char­ac­ter was for me. I gave her the name Har­ley Quinn be­cause I thought Har­ley was a fun name for a girl. And a lot of Bat­man char­ac­ter names have a bit of a pun to them.”

Now that Har­ley is DC Comics’ most pop­u­lar char­ac­ter af­ter Bat­man, Su­per­man and Won­der Woman, Dini is thrilled to see her win more fans through her on­go­ing solo comic and this sum­mer’s Sui­cide Squad movie, in which she’s played by Mar­got Rob­bie.

“It looks like Mar­got went af­ter that in­ter­pre­ta­tion with a great amount of zeal and af­fec­tion,” says Dini. “She wants to do a spin-off movie, which I think is re­ally grat­i­fy­ing. It ap­pears that she went out and did a lot of re­search and re­ally has em­braced the char­ac­ter. What­ever hap­pens with the char­ac­ter down the road in sub­se­quent movies it ap­pears that she’ll be han­dled with a lot of af­fec­tion and in­tel­li­gence.”

it ap­pears that she’ll be han­dled with a lot of af­fec­tion and in­tel­li­gence

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