ALL! 'Tis I, your loving hostess with the mostess!
Believe it or not, back
in the day people would email me thinking I was Arleen Sorkin, or had a
direct line to her, or was somehow associated with DC Comics or Warner
Me in cosplay as Harley Quinn at Supanova 2009
The best kind of coincidence - an Alex Ross illustration of Harley with an uncanncy resemblance to yours truly! See Batman Black & White vol 2!
Fifteen years ago, I was idly channel-surfing when a cartoon caught my eye. I flicked back to that channel and sat, watching, enraptured by one particular character who in a few short words, cheekily delivered in helium tones, had completely captured my imagination.
The cartoon was 'Batman: The Animated Series', the episode (I was later to find out) was 'Joker's Favour' and the character was Harley Quinn.
What I felt that day watching the character was a deep sense of resonance. Everything about her - from her eyecatching costume, to her mischeivous voice, to her playful but undeniably wicked ways - touched something in me.
But another two years passed before I ever caught sight of her again.
And once more, it was down to random channel-surfing. This time my eye was drawn by the stylish and noirish tones and shades of the B:TAS episode: 'Trial'. Settling down to watch, I found myself fascinated by the intriguing and creepy characters being portrayed on the screen - and the jolt of recognition I felt when Harley appeared gave me butterflies. I watched the whole episode through and decided somehow I had to find out more about this character.
At that time, B:TAS was being screened once a week in my country, on Fridays. The following Friday I was due at the dentist so I set our old VCR to record the episode. I determined that each and every week I would tape this show until this character appeared again and I could discover her more.
It must've been fate, because the next week's episode was 'Harlequinnade' - the episode that perhaps depicts Harley at her exemplary best.
And from that moment on, I was hooked.
was 1997, in Australia.
The internet was only just beginning to become a household standard. There wasn't even a fraction of the information available on it that there is today. Certainly comprehensive resources like imdB, youtube, wikipedia and other sites devoted to archiving information were not in existence.
But the internet was pretty much all I had.
At that time, my family didn't even have a home computer - my school's library was where I had to turn to. Every spare second I could until we were able to get a computer at home, I spent in that library devoutly uncovering whatever information a search for 'Harley Quinn' could yield.
it, I found information on her - all from websites based in America - that
lead me to the realisation she featured in comics, a previously unknown
world to me. Realising this character who, for whatever reason, had completely
crawled under my skin, had appeared in possibly dozens of forms I had no
knowledge of and possibly no way to access, made me feel sick but also
determined to acquire.
Whilst I was able to scrounge together a few back issues from various bins in comic book stores, I was mainly reliant on the internet. Through it I connected with other fans through newsgroups and forums. As I put together more and more information, feeding my newfound love, I began to put together what would become - and remains - the leading resource of information on Harley Quinn online: Harley's Haven (http://www.harley-quinn.com)
I say all this because I had to WORK to be a fan of Harley Quinn back in those days, living in Australia. Without the internet, I would never have been able to find out even a fraction of the information I had - my pursuits would've been limited to endlessly taping episodes of the show, scrounging in toy stores and pouring carefully through magazines - comic books would never have occured to me. And even with the internet, the hub of her fandom was based largely in another country - it all seemed so distant, far away, practically inaccessible. As a teenager from a modest income household to making a modest income, every collectible I wasn't lucky enough to receive as a gift I had to save hard for and order from America - and with the dollar exchange, it cost me twice as much. Being a fan then was a job and I was a workaholic.
I was committed to making that website as comprehensive and complete as possible and through this endeavour I connected with more fans, many of whom were excited by what I was doing and my commitment to the character. Through their generosity I received items I would never have been able to get hold of in Australia - merchandise such as the action figure and other toys, comics, as well as rare oddities I still treasure, like Valentine's - as well as video recordings of the episodes she appeared in - before broadband, before DVDs, before youtube, these were absolutely precious to me.
My website drew the notice of comics pros like Paul Dini and Ty Templeton - the latter of which I became friends with and who further entwined me with Harley Quinn by having Harley use my real name as an alias in a comic book, The Gotham Adventues #10 - a badge of honour I still flaunt at every available opportunity! (eg: previous sentence)
Harley uses my real name to check into a hotel. See Gotham Adventures #10! Thanks to Ty Templeton!
I went on hiatus from fandom around the year 2001, simply because I had entered adulthood and had too many other things to do. During this time, while I never lost my passion for Harley, my website stagnated, my comics collection waned and my collectibles were packed away into my parents garage.
At the end of 2007, after a thousand adventures, bizarre experiences and strange pursuits in life, my passion came back full-blown as fierce as it had first been in 1997. Over the Christmas holidays in a frenzy of inspiration, I brought my website back up to date with a complete new design and got stuck into an activity I had never before indulged in - fanfiction writing, all of it focused on Miss Quinn and her complicated relationship with the Joker. I was as prolific in this area as I was frenetic in buying up all the comics, toys and other collectibles I had missed out on during my absence. For the first time ever, my passion for fashion took a backseat as I poured money I hadn't had six years earlier into rounding out my collection.
naturally, it wasn't long before I discovered cosplay. I had always harboured
a desire to dress up as Harley, but there was no organised cosplay scene
in Australia back when I was first a fan - I didn't even know the word.
I had no real resources behind me to get such a thing together either so
that desire was put on the backburner.
Harley Quinn cosplay community is an active one, with many people sharing
their photos and con experiences online and on deviantART. I longed to
be a part of that but was once again thwarted by my location - there are
fewer cons here and fewer opportunities for cosplaying.
This approach became wildly successful, more so than I expected. Creating a variety of stories that I posted on deviantART, my cosplay drew international notice from fans and before I knew it I found myself with hundreds of followers, a facebook fan page, deluged in positive reinforcement and being told by numerous people, including some pros, that I was 'the best' Harley currently cosplaying.
After a wonderful con experience in my hometown, I had 'the bug' and immediately began travelling interstate to visit other conventions. I found that people responded extremely well to Harley, and was completely overwhelmed by the level of positive attention I received. I used both the conventions and the internet to build my profile in Australia as both a cosplayer and a Harley Quinn fan, promoting my website which I continue to update.
entirety of my cosplaying experience has been acted out in just over a
year - I began my 'story shoots' in April of 2009, had my first con cosplay
in June 2009 and one year on find that I have achieved more than I conceived
possible in terms of living my desire to cosplay Harley as authentically
and convincingly as possible. At the most recent conventions I attended
I had dozens of people recognise me and more than a couple who told me
they had specifically hoped to meet me at some stage of the convention.
Being a Harley Quinn has brought me so much in so many varied and delightful ways - lifelong friends, amazing experiences and a sense of wonderment, joy and pleasure. She will always be a part of my soul.