The Art of Harley Quinn
I had no idea, when I posted preview pages from The Art of Harley Quinn, just how huge this book was! It’s almost the size of a TV tray! All the better to show off the art pieces within in glossy color.
It’s not just pretty pictures, though. There’s a foreword by Paul Dini, character co-creator, with some thoughts on how Harley Quinn lends herself to different approaches. There’s a brief history, with quotes and memories from key players, of how Batman: The Animated Series — her launching pad — came to be. Her first comic book appearance, in The Batman Adventures #12, is represented by its cover and a few pages, as is her focus one shot, The Batman Adventures: Mad Love.
There’s a lot of good detail here without getting too bogged down in minutiae. Writer Andrew Farago does a great job making the text as interesting as the art — quite the accomplishment for a coffee-table picture book! Chapters cover how the cartoon character entered the DCU proper during the huge No Man’s Land event and gained her first solo series, which launched in 2000 and was canceled for low sales in 2004. (Harley that unpopular? Never again!)
After a wide range of different approaches, Harley wound up in the Suicide Squad, and with another solo series in 2014. The last section of the book goes by in a blur, with several spin-off miniseries and a whole bunch of pretty pretty art. (Do note, though, that this is a comic history, so no movie or current-day cartoon images.)
If you’re still stuck on what to get as a gift for a comic fan (or you’re already planning what to pick up after the holidays with your gift cards), this wouldn’t be a bad choice. You want to get it in person (at your local comic store, perhaps), because the sheer size makes it tricky to ship.
And Harley Quinn is a character that has widespread appeal. Speaking very generally, guys find her attractive — particularly now that they’ve cut down her bodysuit to hot pants — while gals like the idea of someone so unconstrained by rules, so able to do whatever she wants with a violent sense of humor. (The studio provided a review copy.)