Super stoked to share this fun little interview I was fortunate enough to have with Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner of DC Comic’s Entertainment, the creative minds behind the upcoming monthly solo series for Harley Quinn set to release this November with Harley Quinn Issue #0! As Harley begins her new life she finds herself strapped for cash and discovers Coney Island Roller Derby, a tough as nails league looking for new, brutal talent! But has the league bitten off more than it can chew as game day approaches and the Clown Princess of Crime sets out to literally destroy her competition?
Jimmy Palmiotti is a multi-award-winning writer and artist with a long history of prolific works. Some series he has worked on include Power Girl, Batwing, Jonah Hex, and All-Star Western for DC Comics’ New 52. He was also the co-creator of the TV series Painkiller Jane and his two issue sci-fi western comic, The New West (2005), is currently in development at New Regency films. Amanda Conner is no stranger to success either as her work on Birds of Prey, Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, and Terra are highly regarded. Outside of DC she has also worked for Archie, Marvel, and Claypool comics. Palmiotti and Conner have long collaborated together and were married just this past August 5th.
Harley was introduced to the world on September 11, 1992 by her creator, Paul Dini, in the Batman: The Animated Series episode Joker’s Favor. Two years later, in a graphic novel called “Mad Love” Harley’s origins were explored as Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, M.D., a psychologist working at Arkham Asylum who falls in love with the Joker while attempting to treat him. Since then she has primarily served as Joker’s lovey dovey side-kick through a number of graphic novels such as Hush, joined up with Poison Ivy and Catwoman in Gotham City Sirens, and appeared in both live action and animated television shows such as Birds of Prey and The Batman. In recent years she has even held a starring role in the widely acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) and Batman: Arkham City (2011) video games. In 2011 she was re-imagined as the leader of the Suicide Squad, a group of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions that will most likely kill them.
But enough of the info dumps! On to the awesomeness!
KEVLAR: Honestly, I can’t think of a cooler female comic lead to see playing roller derby! Where did the idea come from to have Harley Quinn interact with the sport in Issue 1?
JIMMY: That was all Amanda, if I remember correctly.
AMANDA: Yeah, last summer Jimmy and I did a charity-bowling event and met the Thunder City Derby Sirens and they were so awesome. I also really enjoyed “Whip It” when it came out. Harley has undergone a redesign in the past year I was just fooling around with the new design, when I started adding things, just for fun. The design started to resemble derby gear, and I thought, ”Waitaminnit, this really works for Harley!” And then it seemed perfect that she should eventually join up with a derby team.
KEVLAR: Roller derby is a very physically demanding, high speed, hard hitting game. Emotions can run high and injury is not uncommon. It’s perfect for Harley! I know you probably can’t give many details, but does she have fun wreaking havoc out on the track?
JIMMY: She is a rolling disaster area that doesn’t understand the meaning of the word excessive. The key word here though is “fun”
AMANDA: I remember someone telling me a story years ago, about Grace Jones, when she was in “Conan the Destroyer”. I’d heard that she didn’t realize you weren’t supposed to actually beat the living crap out of the stunt people with your fighting staff, and during the fight scenes she maimed everyone around her. I don’t know if that is actually true, but it makes for a funny story.
We know that with roller derby, it will be real and it will be rough, but in Harley’s world you have to be careful if you say, “Now get out there and slaughter the opponents” because she’ll take it literally, and there will be dead people all over the track.
JIMMY: I knew I was always a bit scared of Grace Jones for good reason.
KEVLAR: Harley has been a part of teams before with the Suicide Squad and the short lived Justice League of Anarchy. She has also teamed up with the likes of Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and of course Joker. In general, would you say she is much of a “team player”?
JIMMY: I guess all of that shows she likes the company of others, and this series will be no different except she will have her own supporting cast and not rely on other superheroes and villains as much. We will have some surprise guests along the way, but they will make sense of the story.
AMANDA: I think that Harley thinks SHE is a team player, but I think the people in her past teams, and the people in her future teams just think she’s really nuts!
KEVLAR: How heavily is roller derby featured in the issue, is it at the center if the story? Is it only the one issue that roller derby is featured in?
JIMMY: Harley is looking for ways to make extra income and finds an ad where they are looking for new girls for the team. We start in Issue 1 where she goes through a try out and it continues for a bit.
AMANDA: I like her adopted derby team, and hope to be featuring their characters throughout the series.
KEVLAR: There must be some challenges with depicting any sport in comic books, but with one such as roller derby, which is still very much so in its infancy despite growing popularity, did you face any difficulties with illustrating or writing it?
JIMMY: We researched the rules of the game so we could play with the rules and bend them a bit when Harley gets in there and starts destroying her opponents. Obviously this is all over the top action and fun.
AMANDA: Yes, I’m still trying to figure a lot of it out.
KEVLAR: In doing any research into the game for this issue, did either of you learn anything about the sport that you found particularly interesting?
AMANDA: I’m still learning. It’s one of those things that I’m fascinated with, but am incapable of doing ‘cause I suck at roller-skating. Every time I try, I fall on my ass. I have an injured tailbone, but that’s from something else entirely.
JIMMY: Why are you looking at me that way when you say that? It’s not my fault. Really!
KEVLAR: Did you have any contact with any existing derby leagues while working on the issue? Also, have either of you had the chance to watch a game yet?
JIMMY: We have met quite a few derby girls over our convention travels and the team we met while doing that cancer charity event in Orlando this past summer. We have not gotten a chance to watch a game live but are making plans in a few weeks to watch one in the Tampa area.
AMANDA: Actually, baby, it’s this coming weekend! I can’t wait!
JIMMY: That’s right, this very weekend, so we should have more of a feel for the sport. I always enjoyed how it was portrayed in films though. It’s a very cinematic sport to me.
Thank you very much to both Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner for taking the time to speak with me about Harley Quinn and her interactions with the sport of Roller Derby. A special thank you as well to DC Comics Entertainment for all of their support and allowing me to include official artwork along with this piece.
Call your local comic shop to find out when YOU can pick up Harley Quinn #0!!! Thank you for reading!
Owner-Operator of Derby Frontier
All photographs provided courtesy of DC Comics Entertainment. Derby Frontier does not own, or claim to own, any of the copyrighted images above. Do not re-post any images without the express permission of DC Comics Entertainment.