BCC17: Baltimore Celebrates Batman Day!
This was the first time I attended a Batman Day panel. Usually because there was probably another panel scheduled over to of it, which can be a drag. I believe this is the third one so far, so better now than never. I was taken back a bit because for a panel celebrating Batman Day, it was heavily focused on Harley Quinn. Which I actually don’t mind since this year is Harley’s 25th Anniversary. If we are talking a Batman celebration then it can focus on other elements in his orbit. The Batman Day panel featured Amanda Conner, David Finch, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV and John Timms, with Jimmy Palmiotti as the moderator.
I’m not sure how most of these tend to go, so also it was interesting to see that for the most part this was one big Q&A. Nonetheless they made it work as there were questions from start to finish from fans with some really good questions, that got some engaging responses. Plenty of questions ranged from Harley Quinn as seen in the animated tv shows, the animated movies, the live-action Suicide Squad movie, and her various appearances in comics. When you get through all those questions it is quite impressive to understand just how popular she is to make her rounds the way she has.
Getting back to the Harley takeover, that did make this very fun because there’s so much to talk about when it comes to the portrayal of Harley Quinn over the years. Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner were front and center here and you could tell that they are head over heels for this character that they gave new life through her solo series. Certain things stood out from them talking about Harley which began with their approach. For one they made the smart choice in separating Harley from Gotham. They said staying in Gotham would always make her feeling like a side character, even when the book is about her. Second, they emphasized the necessity in creating that gap between Harley and Joker which has been the best development for Harley in current years. He is toxic to her and you have to break her free of that desire while creating little room for her to go back to old habits. There was one questions about character development that they answered very well when it came to not only how she reinvented herself, but how she began to surround herself with new friends who are good for her.
One excellent question started a discussion about the setting that is Coney Island. This led into a discussion about how Amanda Conner really put the work into fleshing out this city from head to toe. When she had to tackle a particular place, she cracked open Google maps to make sure there was accuracy to what she was producing. Like if you threw a bag of poop from point A, it should land at point B on street X. Funny enough they talked about the way Coney Island might connect to Gotham.
There were some questions about Batman that did come up. One good one about Batman and how he has progressively become darker over time. In some case this is true, though James Tynion IV pointed out how his Batman does continue to break the mold by depicting a Batman who is more approachable. He sees where he could have ended up, and how others can be led in a different direction with guidance. A Batman who can actually be comforting which is a big contrast from the one who only sees black and white. This continued to lead into questions concerning Clay Face who has seen a change in direction to become more than the monster people used to see him as. This part got engaging because we are talking about how a character who has been a villain for so long is being redefined into someone of new importance.
Peter J. Tomasi addressed how he approached writing Damian Wayne and Jon Kent in Super Sons. His answer was that writing them, particularly Damian, was easy because he had a 15-year-old of his own. So he pulled a bit of his own experience in dealing with kids and put that into his storytelling for the two and how they both work together and clash.
It wasn’t expected, but there was a solid number of questions popping up about the Jetsons, and the Hanna Barbera stories in general. At that point I think people were just happy to be able to ask Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner questions that they knew these two would be happy to jump into.
I was able to sneak my own question in at the end in terms of a future Batwing book. This was one written by Jimmy Palmiotti and unfortunately didn’t last too long because of sales. He said it just might happen as with all things that may need a year or two for someone to pick it back up with a fresh take.
By the end of the panel, they really might as well have called it a Harley Quinn celebration. Still not a bad thing, but also a good time to let it sink in that she has grown to a point where so many of these readers would want to talk about her more than anyone else in the Batman Universe. There was still all things Batman, but you couldn’t deny the fun that came from celebrating how far she came from simply being sidekick to Joker and in a relationship with him. They pulled off a solid panel that seemed more like improvising.