Stjepan Sejic is a comic creator who has been in the business for around twelve years. He began as a colorist, but worked up to being the monthly artist on Top Cow’s Witchblade for over 40 issues.
Recently he posted a storytelling warmup, called Harleen, which he drew after watching Assault on Arkham. The fan-art comic is an amazingly deep and relatable exploration of Harley Quinn’s character from the Batman series. Often times she is shown as madly in love with the Joker, but is subject to abuse, ridicule, and occasional attempted murder without a whole lot of explanation why she puts up with it.
Stjepan says he enjoys telling all kinds of stories. “Be it adventure horror comedy like Death vigil, or a erotic romantic comedy with Sunstone, or an all ages adventure with Switch.” His retelling of Harley’s story was inspired by relationships portrayed in modern romance novels. “A charismatic sociopath enters a regular woman’s life and turns it on its head as she gives into his influence. Joker is your Christian Grey, your Edward, your unhinged male protagonist of a modern romance novel. And the female protagonist can help him, can change him… But , it’s not a romance. It’s a cautionary tale, a horror. Some are beyond help.”
“I took an elseworlds approach to Harley. This Harley is a competent, devoted psychiatrist. A go getter. She worked on a theory of mental illness as a survival mechanism which she developed after working with court-martialed soldiers who in times of war committed atrocities and yet before war were model citizens. Enter, Joker!”
“She is obsessed with him. Rumors say that he was a petty criminal once that escalated to this point. A street level example of her theory. She seeks within him a confirmation of it. But what she finds is a man who puts a different face for others, but [she] sees through his disguise, and she can help him. Or that’s what she thought.”
“There is a whole story I developed because that’s what storytellers do. When we take some time off from telling stories… we usually spend it inventing more stories.”
The comic strip can be found here and although it is only a exercise in character exploration, Harleen tells us a story of love and betrayal from an abuse victims eyes. Stjepan has worked his fantasy series Ravine, Top cow’s Aphrodite 9 miniseries, and Image’s Rat Queens, and is currently working on his own projects: Sunstone, Death Vigil, and Switch. You can find more of his work as Nebezial and Shiniez on DeviantArt, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
What do you think of Stjepan’s treatment of Harley? What are some of your other favorite stories about Batman’s femme fatales? Let us know in the comments below.
Image Credits: Stjepan Sejic