Does Harley Quinn Signal The Return of “Fun” Comics?

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Harley Quinn 1 195x300 Does Harley Quinn Signal The Return of Fun Comics?It would seem many of you probably picked up an issue of DC’s new Harley Quinn series.  The Comics Chronicles estimates sales as 114,212 for #0 and 92,153 for #1.  Those are some very serious numbers for a book that’s a real departure in tone from your average New 52 title.  It’s also the best-seller in what just might be an emerging trend.

For the last couple years, Marvel’s been picking up a lot of critical notice and some decent sales with a triangle of fun/wacky comics: Deadpool, Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man.  Were you to literally draw a triangle with those books as the three points, Harley Quinn would fit dead center in that triangle.

Like Deadpool, Harley engages in some absurd/Looney Toons-esque violence… and she has a sidekick in Bernie the Burnt Beaver, a stuffed beaver she thinks is talking to her.

Like Hawkeye, you’ve got Harley owning a building in Brooklyn and picking up a dog.  Harley has specifically acquired a building on Coney Island, and she’s even liberating an animal shelter in issue #2.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man is a group of super villains having misadventures.  Harley is still in the villainess/anti-heroine camp and, while it’s not quite a team, her traditional cohort Poison Ivy turns up in issue #2.

The really funny thing is, with the exception of owning a building on Coney Island, most of those bits Harley has in common with Marvel’s “fun/wacky” books have been part of the character for 10 or 20 years.  And let’s face it, Harley Quinn on Coney Island?  That’s reasonable for the character.  This isn’t the first Harley Quinn series, either, though it might be a bit more over the top and a bit more adult with the humor.

Nor is this the only “fun” book at DC.  Larfleeze, the Greed Lantern, is certainly an absurd book — although having been lumped in with the more serious Green Lantern titles doesn’t seem to have done it any favors.  Jonah Hex has also been turning up at Burning Man in a recent issue of All-Star Western, although that title has its more somber moments.  Still… when the New 52 launched, that was 52 mostly grim and serious comics.  And it’s fair to say Harley Quinn is selling much better than the other fun books at DC.

And it’s not just DC and Marvel that have been having more fun books.  In terms of success, I’d peg the father of this emerging trend as Chew over at Image.  While ~12K in sales isn’t headline grabbing material anymore, so much as solid sales, Chew was a surprise and breakout hit.  The collected editions seem to be doing pretty well, too.  You could probably put Manhattan Projects in a similar category, though it does go a bit darker at times.  Pop over to Valiant and you’ve got both Archer & Armstrong and Quantum and Woody taking up a significant percentage of a small line.

Is this an emerging trend?  Perhaps and perhaps not.  Fun comics were considered the kiss of death for many years, but there’s no denying that there are some success stories emerging.

Comments

  1. Skottie says:

    It’s too bad that Harley Quinn isn’t really very good.

    If we could get more clever writers on fun books, we might have a trend worth supporting.

  2. Dean Haspiel says:

    I hear THE FOX from Red Circle (Archie) is a zany superhero comic book mini-series. Cheers to more creators bringing back the fun to corporate comics. RIP bleak chic.

  3. Patrick Penguin says:

    How is this considered fun? Lil’ Gotham was fun, Tiny Titans was fun, Flash is fun, this is not. Bad jokes and puns don’t make a book fun. #0 was cool but #1 and especially #2 were just awful and unfunny. A poor man’s Deadpool.

  4. Point being not that Harley doesn’t pass muster with 2 of the 3 previous commenters, but – somehow – regardless of their preferences the comic is selling big numbers. I’m not keen on KFC, but their success is enough to tell me that there’s a demand for fried chicken…

  5. Yeah, I’m really enjoying The FOX from Archie. That comic is a lot of fun.

  6. The fact that it’s different in tone from The Grim 52 was one of the reasons I decided to give Harley Quinn a try. While it remains consistent with to the pervasive morbidity of the line – which is so full of storylines about war and death and evil and doom that its readers should probably be placed on suicide watch (as should Harley) – there is at least a character in it who … smiles.

  7. The Fox is awesome.

  8. I’m PRETTY SURE there are more than TWO ‘fun’ comics out there.

  9. I like The Fox, and enjoyed the wit and styling of Harley Quinn #0. For other fun, I guess I wander into the drugstore for Simpsons comics. They are full of great comic riffs and movie references.

  10. I also enjoy Simpsons and Futurama comics and a number more that have a fun take on characters.

  11. Torsten Adair says:

    JLI #8 was one of the first DC books I read regularly. (The Superman reboot were the others.) Of course, I had a strong sense of the absurd as an adolescent: Looney Tunes and MGM cartoons after school, Dr. Demento on Sunday nights, and MAD Magazine from 1979-1981.

    While I don’t read a lot of it, I do enjoy the occasional madcap comic.
    “Fun”? No. This is “absurd”. Reality distorted through a bottle of absinthe.

    Harley owning a building is new? Well, in Gotham Sirens, she was roommates with Selina and Ivy. (I believe Selina owned the building.) That series was quite good, part of a series of strong female characters which was wiped out by the New 52.

  12. Torsten Adair says:

    I’m also enjoying the time travelin’ Hex. He’s the straight man in that series, although it’s got lots of crazy satire and action!

  13. Dave Elliott says:

    What’s your definition of “FUN” comics?

  14. @ Adrian – I think we need a few more months worth of sales figures to decide if Harley Quinn is a success or not. Especially since it had both a 0 issue and a #1.

  15. Sid Hoffman says:

    @Steve: You actually beat me to the same point. There are plenty of fun comics out there, they just don’t get the same amount of attention as the darker books.

  16. Whatever says:

    Yeah the same Harley Quinn who murdered children with exploding video games a few months ago? Hilarious. @&$; off DC.

  17. As an admirer of Palmiotti and Grey’s fun HEROES FOR HIRE comic, I guess I better check out HEX and some of the other stuff mentioned here.

    Too bad this fun-meme didn’t come along in time to save HFH.

  18. Dan Ahn says:

    Eh, I actually think that the fact that we can now count all the “fun” Big Two books on one hand means says more about the lack of “fun” than anything. Hopefully it will become a trend. But as it is, things are pretty damn grim, especially at DC.

    As for the HQ title: Man, I really wish Amanda Conner was drawing interiors as well. I think that would make the whole production seem a lot more complete. As it is, it feels like the writers are still getting their footing (not easy, given the fact that this is a new-continuity HQ) and the artist, while pretty okay, just strikes a tone that so far seems to make the jokes and violence seem… icky more than funny. It often feels like the jokes are *bad* jokes. I think if Amanda were illustrating things, she’s make it all look so charming that readers would give questionable jokes the benefit of the doubt. As it is, I’ve bought every issue so far and haven’t quite regretted my purchases. But let’s hope things improve.

  19. Ripley says:

    It’s off my pull list. Sorry but this is not worth $2.99. The whole comic stinks of fanservice and male fantasies. And that “beaver” joke was offensive. I’m a lesbian and this was bad, sexist “humour”.

  20. Strabo says:

    How are beaver-innuendos sexist? It’s the equivalent of having a character carrying around a rooster and making low-brow “cock”- innuendos, but I don’t really see anything sexist with it, just sex-specific.

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