DC And Palmiotti Respond To Criticism Of Harley Quinn Contest Page
When DC Comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee asked artists to try out for a gig drawing one page of Harley Quinn #0 by sending in a sample page, it seemed like the major criticisms would be the standard push-back for art or design contests: One person gets paid even though potentially thousands of fans do the work.
But then people took notice of one of the panels, which depicts Quinn naked in a bathtub, readying herself to pull a string that would dump plugged-in toasters, blow dryers and other electronics in the water. Anti-suicide groups including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Psychiatric Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness felt DC was making light of suicide. Others called it exploitative. Now, DC is officially addressing those criticisms.
In a Thursday statement, the publisher apologized for “not clearly providing the context of the scene within the full scope of the story.”
That statement comes on the heels of several tweets from Lee, such as this one:
I can assure you that Harley Quinn #0 is not about suicide. Not even close.
— Jim Lee (@JimLee) September 7, 2013
Earlier this week, Jimmy Palmiotti, co-writer of the series with Amanda Palmer, posted an explanation on Facebook that said the panel was part of a dream sequence in which the writers were directly giving Harley a difficult time, like in the classic cartoon “Duck Amuck.”
Palmiotti said he thought the other panels on the page, which included silly costumes, made the context clear:
I should have also mentioned we were thinking a Mad magazine /Looney Tunes approach was what we were looking for. We thought it was obvious with the whale and chicken suit, and so on, but learned it was not.
DC issued a statement along the same lines to The Huffington Post:
“The purpose of the talent search was to allow new artists an opportunity to draw a single page of a 20-page story. True to the nature of the character, the entire story is cartoony and over-the-top in tone, as Harley Quinn breaks the 4th Wall and satirizes the very scenes she appears in. DC Entertainment sincerely apologizes to anyone who may have found the page synopsis offensive and for not clearly providing the entire context of the scene within the full scope of the story.”
The contest is so far continuing as planned, with no alterations or modified text at the official submission portal.