There isn’t any comics issue or character in recent months, or even in the last couple years as far as I know, who has drawn as much attention and controversy as Harley Quinn, who got a new ongoing series today from veteran industry professionals Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. The controversy had largely to do with an apparently insensitive artist submission that was put together for this title in September, which involved some test art panels that completely lacked the context of the actual issue. Do a search for it and you’ll find all there is to know about it. That’s not what this post is about thought.
I love Harley Quinn as a character. Bruce Timm and Co. introduced her in Batman: The Animated Series nearly two decades ago and since then she’s gained a life of her own, becoming one of the most quirkiest characters in comics, and that’s saying something since she debuted as the sidekick to the Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime and you can’t get any (insanely) quirkier than that guy. And yet, Harley one-upped him. With this new issue, a zero issue no less, Harley Quinn is back in the saddle with lots of great humour and some fantastic artwork.
I’ve blogged about diversity in comics before. I’ve even talked about it extensively on Twitter and Facebook as well. As an Indian comics reader, comics diversity is something that I think about a lot, and being a reviewer has helped me to think about it in several different ways that I didn’t quite consider before. Diversity doesn’t just stop with gender, or race. It is much more. It is about religion, geography, physical attributes, mental state, health disorders, etc. One point I’ve iterated on again and again is that today, comics readers aren’t just white males in their teens and twenties and living in UK/US. They are much. Comics readership crosses all sorts of boundaries today. All sorts of people, from all walks of life and with all kinds of backgrounds read comics in this day and age.
Hell, comics aren’t just print anymore. They went digital and they have only been growing despite the ridiculous scaremongering from those who dislike the medium or are hopelessly wedded to their print collections to the exclusion of all else.
In a world like this, diversity is an important topic to discuss. And there are no better agents to discuss this topic than the Big 2, Marvel and DC. They are the giants of the industry who together make up about 67-75% (give or take a couple percentage points) of the market in terms of unit sells and market shares in any given month. They have the longest legacies, and thus the most material to contribute to such a discussion.