Television Influencing Comics: Harley Quinn

Posted on October 7, 2011 by


Television in many ways has influenced comics. Sometimes creating a new comic, sometimes redefining a character, but above them all there is one moment that shook the comic world to its core and something was created that can only be described as God creating Eve; the creation of one Harleen Quinzel a.k.a. Harley Quinn.

The reason for the God reference is that the creator of this character with her lovely name as a play on the word harlequin was none other than Bruce Timm. Oh and there might have been a hand in the deal by Paul Dini, but come on who has heard of him? I mean he worked on Star Wars: Ewoks, Batman and Superman the animated series, Batman Beyond and a bunch of other things no one ever watched. These two might as well be nobodies… excuse me I need to go wash my blasphemous mouth out with kryptonite really quick.

For those not in the know Harley Quinn was created for the cartoon series Batman: The Animated Series. Much like many flukes in life that include Opus from Bloom County and Urkel from Family Matters she was designed to be a one off “walk on” character and not a main stay, but her character proved too popular with the writers and the fans and from a cloud of sparkles we were given the one and only Harley Quinn; lover, sidekick and sometimes enemy of the Joker.

To give a basic back story to this one of kind angel from Hell she was a psychiatrist working at Arkham Asylum and actually asked to be put in for a session with the Joker. In time either through his trickery or her already uneven personality she fell for him. Then helped him escape a few times before having enough and donning her own bright colored (and oh so tight) costume and becoming Gotham’s newest villainess Harley Quinn.

From here history is made. She has gone on to be a main focus of a Batman comic that won an Eisner award, she got her own comic line, she had crossovers in many comics, was a key member to Gotham Sirens, has appeared in just about all Batman series since her creation (yes even in Batman Beyond) and has become the top villainess of all time in just shy of a couple decades. I dare you to go to any convention and not find someone cosplaying her (this challenge is null and void if you spend the convention sitting in your room and do not actually interact with people).

Who is this mysterious lovely lady? ;-)

One of the more amazing things about this character is that she has almost never been changed. When comics get made into cartoons or movies, and vice versa, usually characters get altered and changed a lot, but for the most part she has always been the same Harley. Her character is too loved to be altered. Even the game Batman Arkhan Asylum (and the soon to be released and amazing Batman Arkham City) changed her outfit but not her personality. The character is proof of the Midas touch that Bruce Timm and Paul Dini combined share. Oh did I mention the comic that won an Eisner award was made by them as well? Just felt like sharing that. If you are a comic fan and have not begun to bow we need to have a talk.

So for everyone out there that moans and whines how movies change things and how comics from shows are never as good (example: there was a Tiny Toons comic… why? No really why? I want answers or I want blood!!! *coughs* excuse me… I’m better now..) you can look at them and say, “Harley Quinn.” Say nothing else; just those two words. When they try and stammer out an argument and stumble over themselves simply walk away with a big smile as Harley proves that not all adaptations are bad and sometimes TV can get it right.

With these thoughts I leave you to go back and watch Batman: The Animated Series, pick up Harley Quinn #1 with the great cover, read through Mad Love, drool over Gotham Sirens and thank the Gods that are Timm and Dini for blessing us with the fallen angel that is Harleen Quinzel.