Today, us admins at BCP had a very interesting discussion about the recent backlash against DC over their competition for artists to draw Harley Quinn. We won’t go into too much detail on all of our personal opinions, but we felt that we should touch upon this on the page.
We suggest you read these competition rules before you read this post.
Many internet sites have criticised the need for Harley to be naked during an attempted suicide as yet another sexualisation of women in comics, sexualisation of suicide, and also insensitive to the issue of suicide as a whole, especially as the competition coincides with National Suicide Prevention Week (NSPW) over in the US.
We were planning on posting an article on the site, but then earlier today, Harley Quinn co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti fessed up, and quite amazingly shouldered ALL of the blame. He said on his Facebook page:
“That the tryout Harley Quinn page went out without an overall description of tone and dialogue is all my fault. I should have put it clearly in the description that it was supposed to be a dream sequence with Amanda and I talking to Harley and giving her a hard time. I should have also mentioned we were thinking a Mad magazine /Looney Tunes approach was what we were looking for. We thought it was obvious with the whale and chicken suit, and so on, but learned it was not. I am sorry for those who took offense, our intentions were always to make this a fun and silly book that broke the 4th wall, and head into issue 1 with a ongoing story/adventure that is a lot like the past Powergirl series we did. I hope all the people thinking the worst of us can now understand that insulting or making fun of any kind was never our intention. I also hope that they can all stop blaming DC Comics for this since It was my screw up. The idea for the page to find new talent is an amazing one and we hope that can be the positive that comes forward from today on…that we get some new talent working in our field because of this unique opportunity. “
We here at BCP generally agree that although Palmiotti has taken the blame, DC’s editors are in the wrong here. Someone high-up at DC surely must have cleared the content for release. they should have been aware of the timing in relation to NSPW, and they should have foreseen potential problems with asking entrants to draw a naked woman for a competition.
Comics are an artform, and are, as such, completely subjective, so this is not an opinion that we will force as being the right one. But the requirement that Harley be naked in the script does unfortunately indicate that the sexualisation of women in comics is still an issue that needs to be properly addressed. Regardless of context, or how tastefully the scene might eventually be drawn, she is attempting to electrocute herself in a bathtub. She is not taking a bath. Why does she need to be naked?
As always, we would like to hear your thoughts on the issue. Does Jimmy Palmiotti’s shouldering of blame take any heat out of the situation? Do you think the internet is making a mountain out of a molehill? Please feel free to comment.