Batman-News was honored to join the press roundtable for Max Animation’s Harley Quinn Season 4 during San Diego Comic-Con. After a year of working on the series, supervising producers (and married couple) Ian Richard and Cecilia Arranovich Hamilton take their premature victory lap on their raucous Harley Quinn panel. By all accounts, Harley’s newest season will aim to wilder heights than before. Well, by heights they meant following Lex Luthor’s phallic rocket and the Legion of Doom into space itself! After talking to the fans about editing Nightwing’s “plump” butt, Ivy’s workplace obstacles, and dealing with new mentors in Alfred and Talia Al Ghul; Ian and Cecilia sat down with us to discuss the series further.
How have you enjoyed the fan enthusiasm for the series?
Ian Richard Hamilton: It’s fantastic. Every time we’re in a meeting, especially as we’re finishing up the episodes, you’re worried about [if] the fans are going to love it, how much are they going to love it, and how do we make them love it more? I think it’s really nice to see this sea of people who you made this thing for, and they’re laughing and enjoying it. You realize how much of your work over the last year has been dedicated toward giving them something to cheer about.
Now that Harley has joined the Bat-Family, she finds herself on the fence morally. Thinking about the moral application of Harley Quinn, do you think there is a struggle/conflict about which side she should land on outside of attempting balance?
Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton: Well, I think the nice thing about Harley as a character on our show is that she’s never one-dimensional. She’s always growing! We’re not dealing with the same Harley now that we were dealing with at the beginning of the series. It started with like, “This is Harley after [her] break up with the Joker,” and now she’s gone so far from that! In the last season, we saw how she wanted to explore a different side of her. Because she said “I don’t think I’m really evil,” “I think I want to do good,” and “I think I want to help people.” In this season we’re exploring that side of her. She wants to try something new. She’s curious! Like everything in the world, nothing is really black and white. There are gray areas and that’s apart of her character growth.
At the end of the show will she be a hero or a villain or do you think that’s not possible at all?
Ian: Because the show is so much about the life of Harley Quinn and the growth of Harley Quinn, I think at the end of the day she lands on being the hero of her own story. No matter where she goes or who she ends up working with, I think that’s always where it ends up being. Because so much of who she is [involves being] in love with Poison Ivy.
There have been so many different versions of all the characters on the show, how did you settle on where to start?
Cecilia: The script was the starting point, and from there the characters evolve in their own right. Like Clayface for example. There are so many sides to him! In season four we kind of see him getting that thing that he wanted to achieve so much, which is success. So, everything starts with the script, then as the show progresses the characters sort of grow with it.
Ian: And all the character development is so organic just because we go for having it feel like real people dealing with this unreal universe. As the scripts come through and as the season develops we sort of think where do they need to be to make them sense as people occuping this ficticious universe.
How will the show be affected if at all by James Gunn and DC Studios?
Cecilia: “We don’t really know at this point? I mean nothing has been communicated directly to us. As far as we know, he likes the show~ I mean he was in it! [laughs]. So, we assume he’s a fan of the show. We don’t really know exactly where we’re gonna go from here. We hope that season four is successful and that fans really like it and James Gunn likes it, then we can continue exploring this universe. That’s all we know.”
Where do you want to take the series?
Cecilia: “Because we just finished season four, this is as much as we know right now. We hope there’s a season five where we can hopefully take them to new places, and explore new areas in their relationship.”
Ian: “This season really does a lot to flesh out the entire universe. It is really by the end of the season that you don’t know where they’re going to go! Just because we fleshed out the Harley Quinn specific DC universe so much over the course this season, you can really go anywhere.”
Personally, I wanted to be an animation director myself when I was coming up; how did you get started and could you tell me a little bit about that journey?
Ian: “We were both animation directors before we became supervising producers! I think you get started by being the kind of people who go to Comic-Con or draw comic books. First you love drawing, then you draw everyday. Maybe you’ll go to school or just look for learning opportunities in studios? You can reach out more than you think you can, you don’t neccesarily have to go to school. You try to sharpen your claws and find as many people who do it professionally as possible and let them know that this is what you want to do. The most important thing is putting in the work yourself and telling people that is the direction I want to go with my life.”
Harley Quinn season 4 will debut on Max on July 27.