Harley Quinngate. I remember it like it was yesterday. DC creating a contest to discover a new artist using an out-of-context page from a script that saw Harley attempting to commit suicide, culminating in a nude bathtub suicide scene that drew the attention of national mainstream media and multiple suicide prevention organziations. Jim Lee going on Twitter to condescendingly explain to people how it was their own fault for not understanding the never-provided context of the page. Finally, after being raked through the coals and prompting The Outhouse to publish a State of the Stupid Address to make sense of it all, DC apologizing for the whole thing with a "sorry you didn't get what we were trying to do." Good times!
Let's take a trip down memory lane and remember what the whole point of that contest was again. What was it...
Beginning this November, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner will be writing the madcap adventures of Harley Quinn and they’ll need all the help they can get to handle her, so they’re opening the invitation to one undiscovered talent to join them.
Oh yeah, now we remember. Yeah, it said that right in the preamble to the official contest rules, didn't it?
DC Entertainment Open Talent Search – Official Rules & Regulations:
Thank you for your interest in participating in DC Entertainment’s Open Talent Search. We are looking for new, talented artists who believe they can bring something special to one of our favorite characters (and one of the Joker’s favorites as well), the one and only – HARLEY QUINN (the “Character”).
(emphasis ours in both quotes)
Well, the winner of the original contest is an artist named Jeremy Roberts, and, while not exactly a comics superstar, he doesn't exactly qualify as "new" or "undiscovered." In fact, Roberts has over 70 comics credits to his name, drawing covers and providing coloring work for Marvel, Dark Horse, Devils Due, and others. Oh yeah, and for DC themselves. Not only that, but Roberts also illustrated a Man of Steel tie-in children's book published earlier this year. Whoops!
For fuck's fucking sake, DC, if you were just gonna hire a guy who ALREADY WORKED FOR YOU, you could have avoided this whole thing!
Now, The Outhouse has gone out of its way to be fair to DC. When DC announced a move to Burbank, we told eager readers, "wait and see." When DC had to push back the second issue of Sandman Overture, we said, "It's Neil Gaiman's fault, and really, DC can't boss around Neil Gaiman." Hell, we might have let slide the fact that DC ended up going forward with the suicide page after all, but replacing the bathtub panel with Harley riding a very phallic rocket instead, pissing off both people who were offended by the page AND people who thought they should have stuck to their guns. We might have even given them a pass on the fact that the contest winner has done past work for the company since he's never done interior pencils if not for the fact that on the same day they released this.
Whether it's the contest or the cover, something stupid has come this way, and for that...
Wait for it...
RESET THE COUNTER!
Still, 41 days... Maybe DC is learning something from all of this after all. So probably, they should thank us. You're welcome, DC.
Let us also point out that we harbor no ill will toward Jeremy Roberts. He seems like a talented artist and we hope he has success both at DC and elsewhere if he chooses. But he's not a "new" or "undiscovered" artist, so why did DC waste everyone's time and make a national mockery of themselves in the media?
Wait, don't answer that. We know why.