Harley Quinn and the carnivalesque transformation of comic book fandom
Keywords:Adaptation, Audience research, Cosplay, Superhero, Transmedia character
The antihero Harley Quinn was first introduced as the Joker's "henchwench" in Batman: The Animated Series (1992). The character soon developed a dedicated fan base, including enthusiasts who did not conform to traditional definitions of comic book fans. Recognizing Harley Quinn's popularity, DC Comics subsequently incorporated the character into comic book continuity. Today, Harley Quinn is a transmedia icon extended across multiple media platforms. In this article, audience research and creator interviews were performed to show how Harley Quinn has been used by both fans and industry stakeholders to transform long-standing (and often outdated) definitions of comic book fandom. Much of Harley Quinn's transformative potential comes from invoking a carnivalesque tradition that defies boundaries. Harley Quinn's popularity is not simply symptomatic of a widening comic book fandom but was active in that transformation.
Copyright (c) 2021 Liam Burke
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