Creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner talk to us about some of their favorite memories from past San Diego Comic-Cons, what they love about it, and their new book, Harley Quinn Invades San Diego Comic-Con.
So, we have Harley Quinn invading San Diego Comic Con this year!
Jimmy Palmiotti: She has an actual ticket.
She has to wait in the ticket line?
J: No no, we know people at WB and they can get her past. *laughs*
How long have you two been going to comic conventions?
Amanda Conner: We were just talking about that, and Jimmy says he’s been going since 1991 and I think I started going the year after you, so I’m going to say ’92 for myself.
J: So if you add that up, the answer is… too long *laughs.* But you know, we love the conventions and I mean it’s the event for us every year. It’s one of our big events.
Is there something you look forward to every year at Comic Con?
A: We both look forward to it, and we dread it.
J: The Monday after the con is awesome. We don’t leave until Tuesday so we make sure we have a pool day at the hotel on Monday.
A: And the convention is so fun but it’s so crazy at the same time. So we’re excited and we’re scared at the same time.
J: You know it’s fun to see the people we work for, because they all come out.
Thank you! That’s so nice of you.*laughs*-weird to say that if this is on/from Amazon??
J: It is! And you know then you get to see the other artists who are in the business and we get to meet the fans and they’re great, and look, it’s the best job in the world. You just sit there and people come up and tell us how happy they are. I mean, where else can you have that? Nobody has that. It’s just fantastic and the art collector in me likes to walk around and pick up some art and Amanda buys a lot of weird things there.
And it’s just great because there’s always great dinners at night.There’s an energy. You guys know. There’s this energy that goes on there. It’s also always fun to wait to cross the street with 8,000 people. I’m kidding.
Through that one narrow crosswalk, it’s like being herded into the ark. It’s horrible.
A: You have to wait in line to cross the street. It’s so weird.
J: I think this year is going to be the year where it’s not only packed inside but I think there’s going to be a billion people who just come to stay outside.
There’s more and more of a presence of people outside who have set up tents.
J: We were thinking about getting like a 6-foot card table and just put it right in the grass across the street and sit there with our names on the table.
A: You know I’ve had this fantasy for like the past 18 years and I’m thinking to myself, one day I’m going to start doing poolside signings. That’s what I want to do.
J: Yes, because I want the fans to see me there. I’ll wear a Speedo. I think it’ll be fun. *laughs* If you wonder, I’ve been ignoring that.
Do you guys have a favorite moment or stand out memories from any convention?
A: Oh man.
J: Uh, like not adult stuff?
A: Is this stuff we’re allowed to talk about? *laughs*
J: I have some horrible stories that involve horrible things. But I can’t say that so something like, well, you know, I gotta say for…hm. Yeah that’s not good either.
A: Jimmy’s actually had more experiences than I have.
Jimmy you seem to be having a tough time coming up with a PG moment.
J: Yeah I’m thinking let’s tell that story…well, no that’s not good.
A: The Thomas Jane story? No, no no.
J: No, not that one either.
A: But you know because I get stuck at the table so Jimmy ends up exploring so he’s always, you know, running into the celebrities.
J: We did harass Conan O’Brien at the Warner Brothers party, that was fun.
A: Conan O’Brien and I talked to poor Johnny Galecki for about five minutes. *laughs*
J: And what’s his name, Henry Cavill, me and Dave Johnson are hanging out and were like “hey we’d like to say hi to him” and they had all this security and he looked over and was like “oh these guys are comic book guys, they can come over!” I thought that was pretty cool. All these other people were trying to get to him and he’s like “oh you know those are the poor comic book bastards, have them come over.” *laughs*
But you know, I think like we said the highlights always been the great dinners we have at night with everybody. The con is such a blend of madness that by the time we get spit out at 8 o’clock these quiet dinners are always kind of fun, we can catch up with everybody. We’ve also done a lot of charity events for the con and all those guys, so there’s no one specific story.
If we’re drinking in a bar one night, I’ll have plenty stories for you. *laughs* I’ve got great stories for you. But, these people are still alive and they have careers, I don’t really want to ruin them. Like we said, the highlights are always meeting the fans and getting feedback from them, even if they tell us we suck it’s still kind of fun.
On the flipside of that, do you guys have any memories of Comic Con that were just an absolute nightmare?
A: I mean, you know, absolute nightmare? We’ve been fortunate, and I’m knocking on wood when I say that, we’ve never lost anything. I’ve never gotten any art stolen or lost or anything like that.
J: We had like six people in our room once. They couldn’t get rooms, and we kept on telling everybody “hey, if you really get stuck you can stay with us.” Everybody got stuck. It looked like a wasteland of people in our room for the con. And we only had one rule, if Amanda and I needed to use the bathroom, everyone else had to wait since we paid for the room.
But no, it’s been good. There are always those silly things like waiting 8 hours across the street.
A: I think that’s the biggest nightmare for me, is when it’s Saturday evening and you’re so exhausted you’re seeing stars, and you’re like “oh I can leave now!” But you can’t really leave now, because you have to wait 20 minutes to get to the little entrance way to wait another 20 minutes to cross the street.
J: I’ve been part of other people’s nightmare stories. A couple of years ago I found a comic book writer laying in the street, passed out sleeping. He obviously had a bit too much to drink. So I put him on one of those luggage racks and wheeled him into the hotel, and I paid a pedicab guy 40 bucks to take this passed out guy to his hotel, I found the key in his pocket. I met the guy later on and he was alive so that’s good. *laughs*
There’s always those kinds of crazy stories. Weird stuff happens though. People bring Amanda artwork that she drew to get it signed and then it’s not drawn by Amanda, actually.
A: Yeah, that’s kind of bizarre.
J: Yeah, somebody else drew it and signed her name and sold it to them as Amanda’s artwork.
A: And then I feel so bad!
J: But for the most part it’s always fun.
A: Yeah, it is. I love the energy and the madness.
So what’s it like to get in the mindset to create the Harley Quinn comic?
A: You know what, it’s getting easier and easier and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t know if that’s going to be like thousands of dollars of therapy later on. But it’s just the craziest thing we can come up with when we’re eating dinner and we’re exhausted and just talking crazy to each other. We’re like “well, that doesn’t sound too crazy for Harley, we can do that!”
J: Yeah I have a thing that if we go through the whole issue and we both look back at it and we didn’t kill anyone, we gotta go back.
A: We have to step up our game.
J: We have to step up our game and have her get upset at somebody.
A: We try and guarantee at least one maiming and/or killing per issue.
J: Yeah, we could almost say they could be returnable if that isn’t going on somewhere in there. The book is fun because we write the book all day long. Meaning everywhere we go. Because we’re husband and wife we go to lunch together, we go to dinner together, it’s exhausting *laughs*. We’re always talking about what if this and what if that. Amanda has on her iPad a list of a billion ideas that we keep coming up with, you know, if we get a chance let’s do this, and let’s do that, because we see stuff in the street, we get inspired by people and stories. So at the end of the day we come back and say alright, now how do we put this together and work it in with Harley. And it’s true, it’s been getting easier and easier because there’s a beat to Harley. There’s a certain amount of sweetness and a certain amount of killer that we’re finding a comfort zone for it and the cool thing about the book is we can get these secondary characters introduced in her life that are completely off the wall. And get away with it in this book, because it all seems normal in her world.
This series has been a total smash-hit. What is it about this series that you think people are connecting to and absolutely loving?
J: I’ll say the first credit goes to DC because what they’ve been doing is they keep everything from the #0 to the newest book in circulation. So there’s 3rd printings, 4th printings, and I deal with a couple of retailers in our area and they say because DC keeps issue 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in circulation they can constantly have all the issues on the shelf. And they said that’s been the biggest draw for the books that people can come in because they’ve heard about it for issue #5, and they can actually buy the past issues. Where, in a lot of comics, as you guys know, that’s not always the case with a lot of books. If you’re in issue 8 and you want 7, 6, and 5, you have to go hunting for them. So DC has been pretty brilliant in keeping the books in circulation and I think that is the biggest thing for us, because we gain a new reader with every issue and they’re able to catch up and it doesn’t intimidate them.
The other part, and I think Amanda will agree, is that we are hitting a female audience that a lot of the comics don’t. And we’re getting younger people, we’re getting a female audience, we’re getting people who want to try something different. We’re also not alienating people with a ton of continuity.
A: Yeah, and I think a lot of it also is that people enjoy reading it because Harley gets to do the things that sometimes you want to do to people but are highly illegal *laughs*. If somebody is just driving you insane and it’s like “my god, I would just love to pitch that guy out of a window!” And then it’s like okay, I really can’t do that. But Harley can! So it’s sort of cathartic to read it.
With Harley Quinn heading to San Diego Comic Con, how do you think she’s going to react to all the Harley Quinn cosplay?
A: She’s very flattered and is “you want to dress like me?! That’s so cool!” And they’re all like “what do you mean dress like you?” *laughs*
J: We do have a limousine full of Harleys pick up Harley in the street in the Gaslight district and they go and have a night out. So it’s Harley with like 12 other Harleys, and they get in a lot of trouble. It’s a lot of fun. We tried to sit there and we did our wish list of “If Harley was in San Diego, what kind of trouble would she get into?” And we pretty much hit everything on the list within the double sized issue.
A: Although occasionally we’ll keep coming up with things like “oh, we should have had her do this” but we can always save that for a future issue.
J: It kind of wrote itself. We’ve been going to the con for so long it’s sort of like there’s so many experiences, we’re kind of just working a lot of them into the book. It’s been a real fun job to work on.