‘Harley Quinn’ Writer Stephanie Phillips: The Conskipper Interview

Everyone begins a new calendar year with a number of resolutions that they will hopefully accomplish over the course of said year. Unlike most people, writer Stephanie Phillips has enough new writing assignments to keep her busy throughout all of 2021 and the year has barely even started!

In this exclusive interview, Phillips discusses all of the high profile projects currently on her “to do list: including DC’s Future State Harley Quinn, the on-going Harley Quinn series, Heavy Metal’s Taarna, Sensational Wonder Woman, AfterShock’s Nuclear Family, and Dark Horse Comics The Butcher of Paris collection.

It was recently announced that you will be writing DC’s Future State Harley Quinn as well as the ongoing series.  How does the Future State Harley differ from the one that you will be writing come March?

Stephanie Phillips: Future State Harley takes place five years into the future, so she’s dealing with a slightly different Gotham. It was a lot of fun to work with Toni and Simone to design ways for Harley to interact with this futuristic environment and technology. The Gotham of Future State has also been taken over by the forces of the Magistrate, so even walking in the streets is more dangerous for Harley.

For the ongoing series, we’re really dealing with a Harley who is coming out of the events of “Joker War” and the Magistrate is now fully on her radar just yet. She’s really trying to re-establish Gotham as her home and find a purpose for herself in the city alongside Batman and the rest of the Bat-family. 

In taking on an iconic character like Harley, how do you approach her as a writer and how does she fit into “the Bat-Universe” and DC in your opinion?

Phillips: I think Harley is usually really reactionary, acting as things are happening to her and around her. Part of the fun is seeing how Harley responds, since she’s such a unique character. One thing I wanted to do was to really show her as taking on more initiative here. She wants Batman’s approval, so she’s trying to be more pro-active versus re-active, and I think that challenges Harley a bit. 

Speaking of iconic characters, your first issue of Heavy Metal’s Taarna was just released.  Although she is synonymous with the company and is easily recognizable, she doesn’t have a ton of back story or material to draw from.  How do you see the character and did you feel like you had a lot of room to expand on her story?

Phillips: There was a lot of room to expand on Taarna and start developing her mythos in more detail than we’ve seen before. This story also gave us a ton of room to explore Taarna’s universe and her role within that universe. I wanted to look at how she interacts with the people and planets that she’s responsible for protecting. 

You will be writing Wonder Woman for the first time in the upcoming Sensational Wonder Woman. What can you tell us about your story and your approach to her?

Phillips: The story is a celebration for Wonder Woman’s 80th anniversary and times really well with the release of 1984. We wanted to tell a really class Wonder Woman story that tries to examine who Wonder Woman is. We took Diana out of a familiar environment and I think the fun is seeing how she reacts to a new situation and an unseen threat. Meghan Hetrick and Marissa Louise have also created stunning pages of art for this story! 

Thoughts on adapting the Philip K. Dick short story “Breakfast at Twilight” as Nuclear Family for AfterShock Comics in February?  How well does Dick’s story translate for a modern audience?

Phillips: This was a ton of fun to work on. The PKD short story is only a few pages, so there was a ton of room to expand this story in a very PKD meets Twilight Zone kind of way. We tried to develop an entire alternate history around the events of the Cold War that readers haven’t seen before, and Tony Shasteen has absolutely killed it with these pages. With the current world situation happening, I think this story is also really timely as we watch the country respond to national disasters in ways that… might not be the most productive. 

The collected edition of Dark Horse Comics Butcher of Paris was just released.  Memories of working on the title and in the crime genre?

Phillips: I’m very glad I had the chance to work with Dean Kotz and Jason Wordie on this title. The book was a long time in the making and I think every page is a work of art. I definitely hope we have the chance to explore this story more in the future and I’m thankful that Dark Horse allowed us the chance to tell this story.

DC’s Future State Harley Quinn #1, Taarna #1, and The Butcher of Paris graphic novel are currently available at finer comic shops everywhere.

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