In case you somehow missed it, September 2017 marked the 25th anniversary (or birthday) of the DC Comics character Harley Quinn. It's actually kinda bonkers that two and half decades have gone by since Harley's debut on Batman: The Animated Series back in 1992, and that she's since become one of the biggest and most beloved characters in geekdom.
From TV screens and toy store aisles to comic books racks, video games and now film, the wild card named Harley Quinn has been fandom's conquering queen of hearts. In fact, besides old school icons like Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl and Catwoman, there hasn't been another female character on DC's populous roster of heroes and villains that has made as much of an impact on pop culture as Harley.
Such a fan was director Kevin Smith that he named his firstborn baby girl Harley Quinn Smith. And this past September, in honor of her 25th, Batman Day (Sept 23rd) was re-dubbed "Harley Day." So her meteoric rise from being the Joker's simple, lovestruck sidekick to one of DC's brightest star players just goes to show that a little bit of crazy, and a lotta-bit of sexy, goes a long, long way.
Fanning the Flames
Considering her widespread popularity across the nerdiverse, it might come as no surprise that on the convention floor of geek gatherings across the country, Harley's colorful image is worn by many a crafty cosplayer. This became even more so the case after Margot Robbie’s crowd-pleasing portrayal of Gotham's second-most loco in the film Suicide Squad. But nowhere else is our fondness for Harley Quinn more fanatically displayed than in the fantabulous world of fan art.
Long before the trashy-ish extreme makeover that she was given for the big screen—a red-hot look consisting of red and blue booty shorts, fishnets, a dingy t-shirt with "Daddy's Lil' Monster" scripted across its front, jailhouse tats and a baseball bat (to replace the wooden mallet)—Harley Quinn was a favored subject for professional and amateur artists alike. But the gutter-chic remix, quite understandably, turned the creative stimulus level up to eleven.
And so, as one might imagine, the self-imposed challenge of choosing only five pieces of the most insane Harley Quinn fan art—from the massive body of works strewn across our fair interwebs—is almost enough to drive one... batty. But these five pieces skillfully reflect various aspects of the always arresting nature of Dr. Harleen Quinzel.
5. John Keaveney
There's a wicked sense of irony in this gorgeous piece by UK-based artist John Keaveny. Bad girl Harley is depicted in the style of the "good girl" pin-ups made famous in the 1930s and 40s by the likes of artists George Petty, Gil Elvgren and others. Her petite hourglass form wears the old school harlequin costume like a second, sumptuous skin. Her hands and feet are appropriately adorned with mismatched red and black gloves and (killer) heels, and the color coordinated wooden mallet signals the warning that Daddy's lil' Gotham girl will positively wreck your world.
4. Felipe Kimio
In the 2016 film Suicide Squad, Harley goes window-shopping in the literal sense. After smashing a storefront with her Louisville Slugger, she picks up the purse that caught her eye and turns to find the other members of the Squad staring in disbelief. "We're bad guys!" she matter-of-factly reminds, "That's what we do!" And what this super fun piece by Brazil-based artist Felipe Kimio does is give us a playful new perspective on that scene, capturing Harley Quinn in a style that's wonderfully reminiscent of a John K. (Ren & Stimpy) cartoon. Swoon!
3. SourAcid (Karl Liversidge)
The [ahem] titillating pose and mischievous facial expression in this pulse-pounding piece by SourAcid is practically singing the chorus of a Britnery Spears song. But she's not that innocent. Hell, she's not innocent at all, and this piece adoringly captures the sugar, spikes and little-to-no-nice about this beloved Gotham bad girl. Yet, it also has the power to remind us that love is blind and to always trust our instincts—because instincts will warn you that Harley Quinn is luring you right into a "booby" trap (See: baseball bat).
2. Yinxuan Dezarmenien
If you've ever wondered what a CG animated 'toon devoted to the off-the-wall exploits of Harley Quinn could look like, the senses shattering work of France-based artist Yinxuan Dezarmenien is the answer. His CG design work is so brilliantly realized that the only thing missing is actual motion, and the voice of actress Arleen Sorkin shouting "Okay, Mistah J!" Or maybe Margot Robbie could provide the voice for the CG version of the character, too. There are so many possibilities, and Dezarmenien's amazing fan art gives us an absolutely gorgeous glimpse.
1. Derrick Chew
Speaking of gorgeous glimpses, if you've ever wondered how Harley Quinn might look dressed like a member of one of Japan's notorious girl biker gangs (who the heck hasn't, right?), terrorizing the neon-lit streets of Tokyo, wonder no more! The Singapore-based artist Derrick Chew has the answer, which is: CrazySexyCool!
While smiling into the camera and saying "Look, ma! No hands," Harley rides a pimped out purple crotch rocket covered with decals and Joker-inspired tags. Her black and red bustier, hot pants and fishnets both contrast against and blend with her white "red bottom" cowboy boots. On her hip is a samurai sword and flapping wildly behind are the long tails of a coat like those worn by girl bikers. Because I don't read kanji, though, I can't say if the embroidered name of the gang is anything cool like "Crazy 88s" (See: Kill Bill), but this polychromatic masterpiece perfectly captures the lively spirit of why, 25 years since her debut, fans across the planet have nothing but mad love for Harley Quinn.