MOT­LEY CREW

Cou­ple helped make Har­ley Quinn one of the big­gest names in comics

Vancouver Sun - - MOVIES - DAVID BETANCOURT The Wash­ing­ton Post

Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Con­ner’s run co-writ­ing Har­ley Quinn for DC Comics is com­ing to an end.

The mar­ried cou­ple, whose last is­sue (No. 34) ar­rives Dec. 20, helped make Har­ley Quinn one of DC’s most pop­u­lar comics over their four-year run. They were so suc­cess­ful that when DC’s Re­birth re­launch be­gan in 2016, tak­ing many of their ti­tles in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, they weren’t asked to change any­thing in Har­ley Quinn other than the num­ber­ing of the se­ries. In that time, Har­ley Quinn has gone from her 1990s an­i­mated ori­gins in Bat­man: The An­i­mated Se­ries to be­com­ing a movie star af­ter Margot Rob­bie de­buted as the char­ac­ter in Sui­cide Squad.

With more live-ac­tion movies on the way and a comic book that con­tin­ues to sell, Har­ley Quinn has never been more pop­u­lar. Which raises the ques­tion, why leave?

Palmiotti and Con­ner have been work­ing on Har­ley Quinn steadily since they mar­ried in Au­gust 2013, just a cou­ple of weeks af­ter that year’s San Diego Comic Con. In that time there have been oneshot spe­cials (A Valen­tine’s Day is­sue in 2015), spinoff minis­eries (Har­ley Quinn and Her Gang of Har­leys) and a change to pub­lish­ing Har­ley Quinn twice a month in the Re­birth era.

“We just felt like maybe it’s a good time to take a break, take a step back, go on a hon­ey­moon, maybe spend some of the money we made on each other and get to know each other,” Palmiotti said. “We love this char­ac­ter, but we felt like, a lot of times you work on books and the sales drop and the char­ac­ter isn’t pop­u­lar any­more. With (Har­ley Quinn) we fig­ured, well, let’s take a nice break while the char­ac­ter is es­sen­tially as hot as ever.”

Con­ner says leav­ing Har­ley Quinn was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion, but one that will put her back in touch with her first cre­ative love: draw­ing. Co-writ­ing full-time with Palmiotti didn’t leave much time for it. Yes, Con­ner has drawn 100 Har­ley Quinn cov­ers, while also de­sign­ing the char­ac­ter’s new look, which aimed to take ad­van­tage of the pop­u­lar­ity of Rob­bie’s on­screen por­trayal.

But var­i­ous other artists (Stephan Roux, Chad Hardin, Alex Sin­clair and many more) han­dled in­te­rior pages du­ties. Con­ner is look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to sto­ry­telling more with her art.

“Draw­ing the in­te­ri­ors is my favourite thing. I love it so much,” Con­ner said. “And I kind of miss do­ing that and I’d like to get back into it.”

And she’ll re­main the cover artist for the se­ries when the new cre­ative team of writer Frank Tieri and artist Inaki Mi­randa come on board for Har­ley Quinn No. 35.

Palmiotti and Con­ner’s fi­nal is­sues will see Har­ley Quinn go the last place any­one ex­pected her to: back home to her par­ents in Flor­ida af­ter she leaves Brook­lyn due to heart­break. A pop­u­lar sup­port­ing char­ac­ter will die, leav­ing Har­ley Quinn try­ing to fig­ure out her next move.

“She runs to mom and dad down in Flor­ida to take a men­tal break, to look at her life,” Palmiotti said. “It’s us look­ing back at what we did, push­ing Har­ley for­ward to the next team. So it kind of sets up some fu­ture sto­ries as well for the next crew.”

Palmiotti says the note­book where Con­ner keeps her sketches for new ideas for Har­ley Quinn is “the size of a Bi­ble” and filled with un­used ideas that the two could re­visit if they wanted to re­turn.

One of the things Palmiotti and Con­ner en­joyed most was es­tab­lish­ing the char­ac­ter as a solo act and tak­ing her out­side the shadow of classic DC Comics vil­lain the Joker, who ap­peared in the se­ries but never took over.

“When­ever she did have a runin with the Joker or at least ref­er­enced him, it was in a way where we wanted to em­power her, so we gave her all the power in those scenes,” Palmiotti said. “We just felt like we needed to do that to move the char­ac­ter for­ward. We tried to show that she’s her own per­son, she doesn’t re­ally need him.”

Palmiotti and Con­ner plan to be­gin plot­ting some cre­ator-owned comics soon, but won’t for­get Har­ley Quinn’s pop-cul­ture as­cen­sion.

“We al­most got fa­mous on this,” Palmiotti said, laugh­ing.

With (Har­ley Quinn) we fig­ured, well, let’s take a nice break while the char­ac­ter is es­sen­tially as hot as ever.

WARNER BROS. PIC­TURES

Margot Rob­bie brought Har­ley Quinn to life on the big screen in 2016’s Sui­cide Squad.

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