Last week marked my eighth year attending New York Comic-Con, and I have never seen so much Harley Quinn in my life. Yes, this includes a couple of years ago when SUICIDE SQUAD Harley took over the entire world. Beyond the usual cosplayers — which I still can’t get enough of — there were panels, galleries, announcements, costume displays, and just so much hype. I didn’t know what to do with it. It was, to borrow a word, fantabulous.
So, I decided to just put it in an article so you can all experience this with me. Come along with me on my journey through New York Comic Con, Harley Quinn style.
The Birds of Prey Bookend the Con
Okay, so I’m not going to do this chronologically. Harley wouldn’t follow the rules, and neither will I. So, there.
I will start at the beginning, though. (You’re welcome.)
The first thing I saw on Thursday was THE BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN costumes. Over in the DC Pavilion, fans were able to catch a glimpse of costumes worn by Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Huntress/Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary/Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), and Harley Quinn herself (Margot Robbie).
This immediately made me happy, as you can see from my very excited video. I was surprised to see some nice little Harley-inspired touches on Montoya’s costume, as well as the new twists on Huntress and Canary. As many people have said before, the male gaze is pretty absent from Harley’s look this time around. As I saw that day, the same is true of the other costumes, as well. They are all feminine in their own way without being overly sexualized. They each have a drastically different look, and I know anyone would empower me if I were to step into their literal shoes. That is pretty special.
The last thing I saw at New York Comic-Con 2019 was Rosie Perez, Margot Robbie, Smollett-Bell, and Basco signing at the DC Booth. That’s right, kids. I saw Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey with my own peepers. That’s one hell of a way to end a Con, huh?
Back to the Page: Harley Quinn in Comics
Harley Quinn may not have originated in comics, but she certainly lives there now. I had an absolute blast learning about all her different iterations and series at the DC: Harley Quinn in Publishing panel. There, we heard from Kami Garcia, Sam Humphries, Emanuela Lupacchino, Mark Russell, and Mariko Tamaki. These creators have all shaped Harley in their own way, and it was so interesting to hear what they all thought of her.
Garcia, who is writing JOKER/HARLEY: CRIMINAL SANITY, focuses on her identity as a survivor as well as her intelligence. In her story, Harley Quinn is profiling the Joker, determined to track him down. In this situation, Garcia explains, there’s no way she’s falling in love with this killer. Therefore, it’s a very different story than we’ve seen Harley in so far, and it’s perfect for DC Black Label. Even though Harley doesn’t go through relationship abuse with the Joker in this story, Garcia says, “She’s a survivor, always.”
Humphries is currently at the helm of the HARLEY QUINN monthly book. He says that if he had to describe the character in one word, it’d be, “underdog.” He also agrees with Garcia about Harley’s intelligence, pointing out that people often forget she’s smart. “People underestimate her all the time,” he says. As he discusses what’s coming up for Harley — an arc where she makes fun of the very concept of events and sets out to destroy them — he mentions that she is still grieving her mom. He says that he wanted to focus on a mother/daughter relationship, and says that this is “core” to her character.
The only artist on the panel, Lupacchino loves that Harley is free. She can do, say, and wear whatever she wants. This means that as an artist, “I play a lot,” she says and points out that Harley is the kind of character who can wear a bikini in winter if she wants. Also, Lucacchino always remembers that Harley “is always in charge” when she draws her in BIRDS OF PREY.
Russell discusses Harley’s influence over him while writing HARLEY QUINN: VILLAIN OF THE YEAR #1. He explains that her freedom has a tendency to rub off on him. The key question to him is, “What can I get away with?” To him, that’s the spirit of Harley.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Tamaki about HARLEY QUINN: BREAKING GLASS earlier in the weekend, so keep an eye out for that! In this panel, though, she says Harley has the spirit of a drag queen, which is why she surrounded her with them. Her “found family” is extremely important to her in this book.
Amanda and Jimmy are Back!
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are freaking incredible. Their run on the HARLEY QUINN monthly through the New 52 and Rebirth eras was just stunning, and they clearly care so much for the character. Any time I’ve spoken to them about Harley, their eyes light up like mine do. As a huge Harley fan, I want her in the hands of creators who love her, and there’s no doubt Conner and Palmiotti meet that criteria.
That’s why I was absolutely thrilled to hear that they’ll be coming back for a 4-issue mini-series. HARLEY QUINN AND THE BIRDS OF PREY will be out in February 2020, and I absolutely cannot wait. These two did absolutely incredible things with the character during their run with her, and I’ve been wanting more ever since they stepped away. It looks like another New York Comic-Con 2019 miracle!
Harley Quinn is So Darn Animated
The DC Universe streaming service has been churning out great original series like TITANS and DOOM PATROL, but this is totally different. Executive Producers Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker have been working on the HARLEY QUINN animated series for years now, and they were very excited to share the premiere date, as well as a sneak-peek, during a press reception.
Get ready, because Harley is coming on November 29th. Screw shopping, guys. I know how I’m spending my Black Friday this year — with Harley freakin’ Quinn.
The scene they showed was hilarious, fun, and beautifully drawn. You can definitely see Connor’s influence on the style, which is really exciting. As I’ve mentioned, this character means a lot to me, so I had high expectations. This clip showed me I have nothing to worry about. I simply cannot wait to see more.
The Harley Quinn Gallery
Ready for the cherry on top? If you wandered a few blocks away from the Javits Center, you may have stumbled into one of the coolest galleries I’ve ever seen. The Fantabulous Evolution of One Harley Quinn Gallery was a beautiful homage to the character, with original animation cells, artwork, and props from the upcoming movie. It was pretty incredible.
Seeing how far Harley has come and knowing that every iteration is still her, is so key to her character. I’ve literally grown up with her, and I feel like we’re both still learning and growing together. (Yes, I know she’s fictional. Let me have this.) That’s why I’m so protective of her. She’s helped me through a great deal of pain and empowered me to be my authentic self, no matter what anyone else thinks. So seeing her story on those walls, and seeing her damn roller skates displayed behind glass, was a big moment for me. I’m so proud of how far she’s come, and I’m thrilled to see where she’s going.
For goodness sake, Jim Lee was sketching a life-size version of Harley Quinn. It doesn’t get more dope than that!
Watch a time lapse of his work and check out more images from the gallery below. Stay tuned for more coverage on all things Harley Quinn, because you know I’m definitely going to be sharing them.