With Harley Quinn, things are never black and white.
If you haven’t heard, everyone’s favorite mallet-wielding troublemaker is making the leap to the world of Digital First with Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red, a new anthology series that will feature contributions from an impressive array of writers and artists. Debuting today, Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red will feature a total of fourteen standalone chapters, each drawn in the style of DC’s acclaimed Batman: Black & White with one eye-grabbing difference—red. Each installment will incorporate the color in creative ways.
You can get a sense of how it’ll work in Black + White + Red’s premiere chapter, “Harleen: Red.” Written and drawn by Stjepan Šejić and set in the world of his acclaimed DC Black Label graphic novel, Harleen, this enticing short story takes literal inspiration from the word “red” as the staff of Arkham Asylum try to determine why Harleen suddenly seems so obsessed with the color. It’s a great launch to a promising new Digital First series, and an unexpected treat for fans of Šejić’s take on Harley.
To learn more about Šejić and Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red, we spoke with the gifted writer and illustrator about his work on the story and how it feels returning to the world of Harleen. We also got our hands on the first four pages of “Harleen: Red,” which you can find at the end of the interview. Enjoy!
How did the idea of doing a short story set in the world of Harleen come about? Was this story one you were hoping you could tell after Harleen?
In Harleen canon, this story takes place after the fallout with the Joker and before the forming of the Sirens. A lot of stuff has happened in that time and some of it is hinted at in both her flashbacks and conversational nods.
Red is definitely a color that fans associate with Harley Quinn, so it’s fascinating to see what she associates the color with. What does the color red represent to you personally?
It's a really nice color. Beyond that I have no personal attachments or opinions on it.
I’m used to seeing your work in color. Was it a fun challenge to limit yourself to black, white and red?
Harleen itself was initially pitched as a black and white book with moments of red. Being offered a chance to do a short story in continuity was a perfect opportunity to offer a visual proof of concept for my initial idea, while telling an interesting short tale.
Your Harley Quinn is such a wonderfully flawed character, but I feel like her heart is good. Do you think she learns from her mistakes?
The goodness of one's heart means little if actions don't reflect it. Hers is a journey of self-destruction. It is an abyssal fall followed by a slow and painful climb. I never forget her deeds as it makes writing her a far more interesting experience. This is Gotham after all, even the good people carry some scars from their pasts, but the bad ones, they are covered in scars.
What would you say is your all-time favorite thing about Harley Quinn as a character?
The fact that she is a psychologist who can diagnose her own psychosis and still feels unable to do anything about it. There is something terrifying about that. it is an illness that feels not unlike an addiction.