The success of Harley Quinn seems to have taken everybody by surprise – including DC Comics, who suddenly finds itself with one of the most successful female-led ongoing series on the stands. Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art (mostly) from Chad Hardin and colorist Alex Sinclair, letters by John J. Hill, Harley Quinn has proven to be a huge success with readers and retailers. And with volume one collected and out now in hardcover, it seemed like a good time to look back across the first nine issues and get a look at what all the fuss has been about.
From its lenticular covers to its weekly events to its wanton hiring of Rob Liefeld, DC Comics has brought back a lot of comic gimmicks since starting up The New 52 in 2011.
The newest one will involve Harley Quinn and your nose. That's right. Harley Quinn Annual #1 will be a scratch-'n'-sniff issue, with the smells of leather, suntan lotion, and pizza included. There's also a smell that's purported to be cannabis. That one will be replaced in international issues with "fresh-cut grass."
When the New 52 launched back in 2011, one of the interesting things about the lineup of titles was the presence of a lot of books that attempted to break out of the standard superhero genre, at least a little. There were horror, fantasy and war comics, but the most creatively and commercially successful by far was DC Comics' All Star Western, featuring Jonah Hex. Now, however, All Star Western is coming to an end after three years with a story where Jonah Hex is faced with what may be his toughest foe yet: Jonah Hex.
This issue marks a pretty notable conclusion for a few reasons, most notably being that, if you count the Jonah Hex series that launched back in 2006 before rebooting as All Star Western, writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are two of DC's longest tenured creators, having written over a hundred issues about Jonah Hex, the disfigured old west era bounty hunter originally created by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga in the early 1970s.
The second is that the issue marks the auspicious return of award-winning artist Darwyn Cooke to the character for his final adventure.
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it’s awesome.
Fans found out about the panel when DC Comics announced a contest seeking an artist to draw one page of the issue. DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee said they would personally select the artist based on submissions of a single page, and included a description of the page's four panels.
It's a rough time to be a fan of DC's comics. The publisher has made so many problematic moves in the past couple of years that the brand is now as strongly associated with disgruntled talent and unhappy readers as it is with iconic characters like Superman and Batman.
In the wake of the inauspicious departure of the Batwoman creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, I intended to write something about DC's editorial troubles. I got as far into the opening paragraph as noting, "I have to write quickly because there'll be another fiasco along any minute," before another fiasco came along - the Harley Quinn try-out controversy.
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 November, DC Comics will launch its new Harley Quinn series by the writing team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with a #0 issue. The art team on the book will be a murderer's row of talents, including Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Walter Simonson, Paul Pope, Sam Keith, Tony Daniel, Art Baltazar and perhaps...you.
According to a DC press release, signed by co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, the company's holding an open talent search for someone to draw one page of the issue, which is scheduled for release November 6.
Harley Quinn has gotten a considerable amount of face time in the New 52 as the most-recognizable member of the Suicide Squad, but one title simply couldn't contain her. So she'll be getting her own book later this year, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, the wife-and-husband team who previously collaborated on 2009's Power Girl series. Conner will be handling art duties for the covers, with a not-yet-named artist on interiors.
For a period in the mid-to-late 1990s, Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti were the chocolate and peanut butter of comics. After teaming up to form Event Comics, the duo helmed the fondly remembered Marvel Knights imprint, which did a lot to bring Marvel out of its post-bankruptcy funk. The imprint was so successful that Que