An Interview with Chad Hardin, DC Comic Artist for the New Harley Quinn Comic!
Ah, Harley Quinn. How can you help but not to fall for the character? We knew the second we found out Chad was doing the artwork for Harley Quinn we had to ask him some questions to build on the announcement. In case you didn’t know, Harley Quinn will be getting a comic dedication from DC, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are the writers while obviously Chad is doing the artwork. The basic premise is thus: Harley is set to begin her new life, but she needs a job first! Enter the Coney Island Roller Derby! It’s game time as Harley sets out to destroy her competition—literally! The comic will be releases upon the masses next Wednesday, December 18th. Lastly, I want to thank Jeff Rogers, who did an amazing job lending his comic book knowledge to the questions for this interview.
Order a physical copy right now if you desire: Harley Quinn #1
WPR: First off, congratulations on your selection as the artist for the new ongoing Harley Quinn series! At SDCC, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan Didio indicated that the #0 issue of the new book will feature a look into the artist selection process with a new contributing artist on every page, 17 artists in all. As a special treat, Harley herself will be providing commentary & criticism of the artwork on each page. We can’t wait to see them! Can you tell us anything about your experiences during the artist selection process and your friendly competition with your fellow artists?
Chad Hardin: As for motivations Harley had for picking me: she wanted someone who is a fan, someone who hits their deadlines, someone who can draw a cute girl with lots of zany expressions, and someone she could trust. Unfortunately all of those guys were busy and I was all that was left. I know Jimmy is going to bust my balls somehow, He’ll probably say she likes bald men with hairy backs! I’ll find out when I read it off the shelves. In short I don’t know exactly why I got the assignment but I am thrilled that I did. I knew nothing about the project at the time of SDCC 2013. Eddy Berganza and Ricky Purdin emailed me literally as I was walking out the door to drive to San Diego with a five page assignment for Supergirl #23. When I was already neck deep with an assignment from Joey Cavalieri and Kyle Andrukiewicz on Shadow Thief #1. So I spent all of Comic Con San Deigo busting my ass getting those assignments done. Drawing on the convention floor during the day and in my hotel room at night. I have never been so sleep deprived in my life. I was going on like 2 hours a night max. So I apologize to anyone who saw me at SDCC and I was acting insane because I totally was. I hit both of my deadlines for each book, Supergirl with 54 minutes to spare before the FedEx plane left, and Shadow Thief a couple of hours before closing time in New York. But as crazy as those deadlines were and as hard as it was to get it done, there were points on both of those books where I was so happy. I remember being wide awake at 3 in the morning thinking to myself “I’m drawing Supergirl fighting Cyborg Superman!”. It is that love of comics that gets you though. It is a serious endorphin rush. So something about all of that and the end results of how the pages looked when finished, I’m sure were the deciding factors that Team Harley saw and liked.
WPR: Who is Harley Quinn to you, will there be any influences on your depiction of her?
As someone who grew up on Batman the Animated Series Harley has always been one of my favorites. And that is really the source I know her from best, I know she has appeared in video games, and comics but the original Bruce Timm and Paul Dini incarnation, the cartoony, fun loving, and wonderfully psychotic, original is the Harley I know and love.
WPR: What do you think about the whole “bathtub controversy” on the Harley Quinn Art Contest for Issue #0?
I think if you know the creators on this book, and you know the things they have planned for this project there would have been zero controversy. Period. However, I can also see how fans not privy to that insight could have taken it the wrong way. Jimmy was quick to rectify the situation and I believe when everyone gets the chance to read the book everything will make perfect sense. If you were someone who was offended by the idea, all I ask is that you give us a chance. Read it for yourselves and vote with your dollar.
WPR: Since the writers are a Husband/Wife duo, what would happen if your wife started drawing with you?
I would lose clients faster than a locomotive. I love my wife, and she is a great partner, but she is the most horrible artist I have ever seen. She is the Anti-artist. She has an eye melting Cuthulu type of effect with her art. However, she is a brilliant business woman, and a super supportive gal. How many wives do you know would let there husband quit their full time job in video games, give up her home and benefits to let her husband draw comics (we have since built a new home but starting out we lived in a single wide trailer for a few years)? AND then have the financial know how to make a family of 6 live off a beginning artist page. I could not have done it without her. And if the day ever comes that I make a property that goes big chances are she will be the brains behind the operation.
WPR: Has there ever been a time where you look at the script and think: “How the heck am I going to draw that?”
No, not really. Not now. Artist block is something you have when you have the luxury to have it. When the deadline is coming you get real inventive real quick. Sometimes the writer will ask for something that is almost impossible to portray in one panel. I see this a lot from people that write primarily outside of comics, but it is your job as an artist to problem solve, so you add a panel or you find another solution that works. I do so love the panels that have like the entire army storming the castle though.
WPR: What is the process like working with DC and leading up to the announcement, how many tears did you shed until they found you worthy?
It has always been fun working for DC and I think the process was a natural one. You have to start low and build your way up. That being said it is still work and there is a lot of busting your ass. It is very hard to hit that daily deadline, not too many people can do it. I’ve been doing it for a while now. Over the years I’ve refined my process and grown as an artist, I’m just thankful DC, Jimmy, Amanda, Mike and Katie noticed. So there were some tears and there were years building up to it but it was worth it to finally get that email asking me to join team Harley. I don’t know how much detail I should give on how giddy I was. Some editors fear the smell of fanboy. But it was safe to say my girls and I were jumping up and down together when we got the news.
WPR: How hard was it knowing you had the job but having to keep your mouth shut until the announcement?
VERY FREAKING HARD. I actually had some creative friends get a little miffed at me (that I wouldn’t talk) but I was afraid that one tweet could spill the beans so I kept it mostly to myself. It helps living in rural Utah. It was awesome to have the announcement come over the DC blog friday, so I could blab the following Saturday at the Salt Lake Comic Con. That was nice.
WPR: Did the writers provide a strict style guide or parameters for the artists or were artists given free creative license?
No, there was a turnaround for the New 52 Harley but it was obvious from Amanda’s drawing that she was doing something different and I know that was purposeful. So I followed that lead. This version of Harley is Jimmy and Amanda’s baby and I’m just lucky enough to put my style to it.
WPR: Over the years, Harley’s costumes seem to be getting more and more risqué. Will the new book be introducing any major or interesting costume refinements?
I know Harley’s costume in this series has a specific purpose especially the roller derby outfit. There are some character tags that come form the original material form the Batman Cartoon and some that come form her look in the new 52. However when you see what it going on in the series her costume will make sense. Of course we want her to be attractive, that is comic cannon, but her new outfit has decorum as well.
WPR:Will Harley’s recent team up with the Suicide Squad and her estrangement from the Joker as depicted in the Death of the Family story arc serve as a back-story for the new book or will this new story be a fresh reboot?
I think Jimmy and Amanda want a fresh start to this book, I’m not sure if that means reboot, but they are going to execute their vision first and worry about continuity later.
WPR: For a relatively new character, Harley has a significant fan following starting with her original appearances in the Batman cartoons, to her darker and more sinister portrayals from both the Birds of Prey and Gotham City Sirens comics to her appearances in theArkham video games which may be even darker still. Will the trend continue in the new book or will we see a lighter side of Harley?
If I had to give this book a genre I would say its going to be a dark comedy and I think it will also get back to her original roots. This is a fun book and it feels like the old Harley to me. Which I really like and I think the fans will too.
WPR: Can we expect any cameos from other Rogues Gallery villains, members of the Bat family, or even a Gotham City Sirens reunion?
Does a bear poop int he woods? Yes, even if I have to sneak them in myself.
WPR: Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmotti frequently find opportunity to depict their main characters going about their natural lives, with their real identities, out of their trademarks costumes. Will the new book give us a chance to see the real “Harleen?”
Harleen is Harley’s alter ego. Its a mask she puts on to blend with society much like Superman does with Clark Kent. The real Harley is Harley, psychotic, fun, compassionate when it suits her and homicidal just below the surface. But yes you will get to see Harleen.
WPR: We’re told the new book is largely set at Coney Island. As an artist, what opportunities are presented by “the Boardwalk?”
That’s a great question. When I went to NYCC I took to take a trip to see it for myself, I got tons of reference but there is still a difficulty to drawing something you have never experienced. Jimmy is going to keep me honest on this one. He’s very passionate about Brooklyn and New York in general and he longs for the grittier days before Disneyfication. Which is probably why he chose Coney Island as her base of operation. It still has its own identify and it still has the grit it has always had. In short its a place that perfectly embodies Harley herself. I do know this though: I had better get it right because I wouldn’t want to insult the people of Brooklyn!
WPR: When can we expect Issues #0 and #1 to hit the stands?
#0 is on stands now and issue #1 is in stores December 18th. Just in time for the holidays!
Thanks again to Chad for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us! Feel free to sound off in the comments below and talk all things Harley Quinn! Don’t forget if you want to buy a copy that will get shipped to you, because like us, you are too lazy to go to the comic book store every week – Harley Quinn #1 Yay, internet!