‘Harley Quinn’ Writer and Artist Amanda Conner on the Character’s Journey to the Spotlight

October 31, 2019, 7:27 PM UTC

Writer and artist Amanda Conner has been in the comic book industry for years, working on a variety of titles that include The Pro, Power Girl, and Before Watchmen.

But her time spent on Harley Quinn, with husband Jimmy Palmiotti, is one that stands out because writing the character felt “organic.”

“Harley’s great because we write Harley the way her personality is,” Conner told Fortune at DC Universe’s Headquarters in Manhattan over New York Comic Con weekend earlier this month. “It’s like we go in with an idea and then the idea just starts going all over the place, like Harley’s brain.”

The character, who got her start as a tertiary villain in the ‘90s on Batman: The Animated Series, has become a comic book favorite. She’s getting her own animated series, premiering Nov. 29 on DC Universe. Having already appeared in 2016’s Suicide Squad, she’ll have another live-action role in the 2020 Birds of Prey movie.

“People love her because she’s so easy to identify with,” said Conner of Harley Quinn’s enduring appeal, adding that the character conveys emotions openly.

“She can throw tantrums, she’s happy, she’s sad, she wears her emotions on her sleeve,” Conner said. “She actually gets to do all the things that we only fantasize about doing to people that wrong us. Society says, ‘don’t shoot the rocket launcher at the person that cut you off on the highway,’ but Harley just does it. She does all the things that we wish we could do.”

Harley Quinn’s journey in today’s pop culture climate reflects a change from how female superheroes and villains were perceived in previous decades.

“It’s so different than it was in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Conner said. “It used to be they thought, ‘oh, a female character can’t really carry their own book.’ And now everybody knows that that’s not correct.”

Conner has observed a similar change for real-life women and the comics industry as a whole, recalling how she would see very few women attending the comic book conventions she went to when she started out in the industry—and how many of them just seemed to be there at the behest of a male relative or friend.

“And now you go to conventions, and girls [are] coming up, bringing their own collections to get signed,” she said. “And it’s such a nice refreshing thing.”

Watch more of Fortune’s conversation with Conner in the video above.

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