Writeris known for some notable runs on some top books, mixing a lot of inside knowledge on character history with some alarming mayhem. He’s just picked up one of the plum roles in all of comics: writing the Harley Quinn ongoing title. With artist Inaki Miranda on board (and some help from Mirka Andolfo, colors by Jeremiah Skipper and covers by the one and only Amanda Conner), Harley is as unfettered as ever, but a bunch of Gotham’s best known villains are standing by to give her evern more to worry about
Tieri’s also the writer on the Jughead: The Hunger ongoing from Archie, another title that turns things you think you know into a topsy turvy bloodbath.
We thought it was high time to discuss Harley and Jughead with Tieri, who reveals his plans for both titles and maybe a little insider New York knowledge..along with some prodigious hunger of his own.
THE BEAT: I know you are good friends with Jimmy and Amanda, but you have some big platform boots to fill taking over after their iconic run on the character. (I know the word iconic is overused but it really was!) Were you at all trepidatious when you agreed to take over the book?
FRANK TIERI: Well…Yes and no, I guess.
For one thing, I absolutely agree, while people throw around the word iconic, to me there’s no doubt about it that Jimmy and Amanda deserve their run to be called that. There may be multiple reasons why Harley is as popular as she is these days but I think it’s undeniable that they are definitely one of them.
So yeah, you do take that into account a bit when you do a book like this. You realize you have big shoes to fill. But at the same time, it’s what you work for in this industry, for gigs like this. I’ve been lucky enough throughout my career to have had runs on big books—WOLVERINE, IRON MAN, DEADPOOL, etc—so I know what comes with the territory… and hey, I welcome the challenge. All I think you can do is be yourself in these instances so don’t expect me to be aping Jimmy and Amanda—some things I do similar to what they do, some things I do different. By now at this point in my career I think fans know what I bring to the table—some humor, some violence, a lot of villain stuff, etc—and they can expect me to bring all that to my HARLEY QUINN run as well. Should be fun.
THE BEAT: J&A’s run on the book ended with the death of her friend, Mason. What’s her mind set right now? She didn’t seem quite herself when your first issue (HARLEY QUINN #35) hit last week
TIERI: She’s still reeling from Mason’s death, to be honest. It’s hit her hard and she fears that anyone around her may be in danger and she doesn’t want that. She doesn’t want that pain of losing someone again so instead, she pushes her friends away.
The problem is, of course, when you have friends like the Gang of Harleys and Red Tool and all the rest… well, they’re not exactly the listening sort, as we saw in the first iss. They’re concerned so, whether she approves or not, they’re going to keep tabs on her. (Or “Stalking” her, as Harley put it. )
So when Tony goes missing, kidnapped by a Man-Bat thing, Harley wants to “Scooby-Doo” the mystery herself. But despite the Gang sending Red Tool after her, Harley only ends up getting taken herself.
THE BEAT: And this all leads to Harley getting changed into a bat…
TIERI: Well, we figured DC didn’t have enough versions of Harley for action figures, statues, home pregnancy tests, etc. So now you’ve got Bat-Harley to play with, kids! You’re welcome.
Anyway, yes, Harley was turned into a bat creature by Francine Langstrom last issue. Now the Gang and Red Tool have to stop the two She-bats from wrecking havoc on Coney. And, ya know… eventually turning Harley back from a giant flying rat would be nice, too
THE BEAT: I’ve also heard that you’ll be making the book a little bit more involved with the DCU, including an appearance by some other Batman villains… as you did with Man-Bat in issue 35. What can you tell us about that?
TIERI: Man-Bat and “Batter Up” is just the start, really. This arc leads directly into “Angry Bird” which basically sees Penguin declare war on Harley and all of NYC after he discovers Harley tricked him and cost him the casino he was planning in Coney (As seen in my fill in issue, HARLEY QUINN #27. See everything ties together, folks! There’s a possibility I know what I’m doing after all…).
Penguin brings a huge chunk of Batman’s Rogues Gallery with him—which for my money is the greatest Rogues Gallery in all of comics, by the way. And I’m not exaggerating when I say huge chunk—everyone from heavy hitters like Mr Freeze and Killer Croc to guys like Condiment King and Egghead… and everyone in between. It’ll be mass chaos and Coney will be worse the wear as all these villains descend on it, looking for a piece of it, even fighting amongst themselves. Needless to say, Harley will have her work cut out for her.
THE BEAT: You mention Coney…Her Brooklyn setting was a big part of the last run, will it continue to be?
TIERI: Coney will still be the focal point, yes, with a lot of jostling between the villains there and with the Gang and the rest of the supporting cast still there… but we will be branching out a bit. Harley will find herself fighting street gangs in Hell’s Kitchen, Mr Zsasaz in Yankee Stadium, the Gorilla Gang in the Empire State building… really every part of NYC.
(Living here in New York and knowing what locales would make for interesting and fun fight venues helps with a storyline like this, let me tell ya.)
THE BEAT: You’re also reuniting with your CATWOMAN artist Inaki Miranda, who I’ve admired for a long time. What are his qualities as an artist that he’ll bring to drawing Harley?
TIERI: Both Inaki and I were excited to be paired up again since we worked together so well on CATWOMAN. And, like with CATWOMAN, Inaki is really capable of handling anything I throw at him… whether it’s humorous stuff with the Gang of Harleys and Condiment King or more serious, darker stuff with Man Bat and Killer Croc. And by the way, the guy draws a ridiculously awesome Penguin. Really could be my favorite version of the character.
And also joining us on “Angry Bird” will be the very talented Mirka Andolfo. She designed a new outfit for Harley for this arc that I just love and she’s also totally killing it.
Really, I got very lucky with the artists I’m getting to work with on this, I have to say.
THE BEAT: You had written Harley before in Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys and then in a Harley fill in before taking over. Do you have any thoughts on what has made her such a hugely popular character?
TIERI: I think there’s certain characters that just hit at the right time, for whatever reason. I think Deadpool is a character like that. And I think Harley is another. Both of them seem to me to have taken off at around the same time and I think the cosplay community plays a big role with both. Go to any convention around the country and I would say those are the top two that are cosplayed. The cons are literally swarming with them.
But with Harley in particular, I think the feminist angle also comes into play. Here’s a character that was under the thumb of arguably the greatest villain of all time—the Joker—and she broke free and now she’s doing her own thing. That’s very powerful and you can see why female comic book fans in particular would gravitate to that.
And also, lastly… I just think people like fart and dick jokes. So there’s that.
THE BEAT: You said I could ask some Jughead questions, so I’m going to sneak in a couple! You’re writing the Jughead: The Hunger ongoing in which a lycanthropic Jughead terrorizes the countryside. This launched with a one shot last year, I believe. Did you think the idea would be this popular?
TIERI: We suspected it might hit—the reason I pitched an Archie Horror comic in the first place was because the line was popular—but I don’t think any of us thought it would hit like it did. When we saw cast members from the Riverdale show tweeting about it and then it getting referenced on the Big Bang Theory, then we knew we really had something here.
THE BEAT: Seriously, Werewolf Jughead. What’s your basic approach to morphing America’s harmless teenagers into blood soaked monsters?
TIERI: Well, my initial thought was simple really–what if there was more to Jughead’s hunger than just a big appetite ? What if there was something deeper behind it… and that led to the whole werewolf concept and him munching down on the good people of Riverdale instead of hamburgers.
Add to that Betty, who was secretly a werewolf hunter who was charged with hunting down Jug and his family of werewolves, and we had ourselves a book, kids.
THE BEAT: Any hints as to where his rampage will take him?
TIERI: Jughead’s pretty much been on the run since our initial one shot, but in this week’s JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #3, we finally get that JugWolf Vs Betty Cooper Werewolf Hunter rematch fans have been clamoring for. And it’s a doozy, let me tell ya.
Plus, we’ll get to meet the matriarch of Betty’s little werewolf hunter clan, Elena Cooper, who’ll play a big role down the line. And we’ll find up what Reggie—who was turned into a werewolf by Jug and is out for his blood—is up to, and more importantly and much more scary, WHO he’s been up to it with. Suffice to say, ain’t none of this is good for good ol’ Jug.
THE BEAT: Speaking of hunger, are you ever going to eat another giant matzoh ball?
TIERI: Ha! As a matter of fact, I did.
For those of you who don’t know what the hell we’re talking about, Heidi and I were at a con in Jersey and a bunch of us went to dinner at this deli called Harold’s where they had giant EVERYTHING. So anyway, I ended up eating a matzoh ball that was the size of a small child.
Flash forward a few months and my son’s got a karate tournament around there and yes, I ended up eating another kaiju matzoh ball with my kid. My wife thinks I’m a disgusting human being now but eh, that’s not exactly anything new.
Jughead: The Hunger#3 goes on sales this Wednesday, and Harley Quinn #35 is on sale now.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.