THE ART of HARLEY Quinn
released OUT NOW! 180 pages | Hardback Author andrew Farago Publisher Insight Comics
Gotham villain. Quirky girl. Lovesick puppy. Crazed killer. Harley Quinn has worn many masks since her first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. In celebration, this large hardback collection is devoted to her, featuring comic book art from the last 25 years.
It’s fascinating to see how one character can be brought to life in so many ways. We find Harley as a masked menace in Mike Parobeck’s ’90s comic strips that ran alongside the Batman cartoon; a bodacious, gun-wielding femme fatale in the art of Terry and Rachel Dodson; and a long-lashed porcelain doll in the soft pencil strokes of Joe Chiodo. There are some surprises, too. In the DC Bombshells art by Ant Lucia, she becomes a vintage dame, and John Timms turns her into a longlegged circus performer.
As with a lot of female comic book characters, there’s no escaping the male gaze: pictures tend to linger over the swell of Harley’s buttocks and her impossibly small waist, though it’s also interesting to explore the BDSM undertones in the tightly corseted art of Chris Burnham. And it’s not all about sex: through Amanda Conner, Harley becomes empowered, transforming into a punk-rock disco warrior who hurtles around on rollerblades with her own girl gang.
Pictures are placed alongside in-depth and meticulously researched text about Harley’s evolution and appearances over the years. It’s fascinating, though more focus on other formats, such as videogames and toys, would have been welcome. Kimberley Ballard
Courtney Love was being considered to play Harley Quinn in Joel Schumacher’s third Batman film, before it was canned.