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The Smell Of DC: ‘Harley Quinn’ Annual #1 Goes Scratch-‘N’-Sniff


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.”

In an interview with IGN, writer Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner said the idea for the issue came from just bouncing around ideas. They mentioned the notion as a joke, and then it turned into an actual comic.

Palmiottii said:

The basic story is Poison Ivy has been thrown in Arkham Asylum, and Harley gets word that she’s in there and decides that she’s going to break her out. So the smells kind of work within the story. Since we have the whole breakout and why Ivy was brought there in the first place, and then we have a lot of different sequences, the cool thing about the story is that it kind of goes off to little places here and there. Although John Timms is drawing the book — we have a bunch of artists drawing doing different scenes in the book, and it actually makes sense to the story we’re presenting. So like Harley usually is, it’s a very crazy story that makes sense in her head and hopefully to the readers.

This isn’t the first time comics have taken the scratch-‘n’-sniff approach. Chew released an SDCC-exclusive scratch-‘n’-sniff cover back in 2011, and a 1992 issue of Ren & Stimpy had a scratch-‘n’-sniff “air fouler” in it.

Still, it’s not a gimmick that’s nearly as overdone as, say, chromium covers. And the creative team doesn’t seem to be taking it too seriously. They’re calling it “scenticular,” a play on “lenticular.” DC is also calling the issue “rub-and-smell” instead of “scratch-‘n’-sniff” for “legal reasons,” though the latter doesn’t seem to be trademarked.

The issue comes out Oct. 29.

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