As of late summer last year, I’ve been investing more and more into cosplay. A quick backstory—I started cosplaying maybe 2-3 years ago; my first convention was Con Alt Delete Chicago, but I’ve been on and off with the hobby due to being so busy with university. Now that I’ve graduated and the pandemic has been keeping me inside, I started again with cosplay being my new creative outlet, but also a stress reliever. Dressing up as my favorite characters allows me to not think about the real world momentarily.
With it being the start of the New Year, one of my resolutions is to have a new cosplay for every month. I think having a monthly goal will allow me to be consistent with the hobby, and to also challenge my creativity during these times. I’ve already planned out certain projects that will help guide me throughout the year—some with the influence of Cosplay Realm Magazine’s upcoming issues—but I’m also open to new ideas and possibilities. Please enjoy my journey with me 🙂
There’s been a lot of talk about Joker’s new girlfriend, Punchline, in the DC fandom. I had read about her briefly, but automatically loved her look.
I had cosplayed her before around October, but after reading more of her debut and observing everyone’s opinions about her, I noticed there was a lot of comments saying, “She’s just trying to be Harley.” I personally think she’s not trying to be Harley; I can see where there’s a common misconception, being Joker’s new boo and all, but I think if you were to take away Harley’s notorious image of “his first love,” and even the influence of Joker, I think Punchline is her very own person, her very own villain, and she has so much more potential to show.
I’ve been in the same position before where when you date someone who’s got a reputation from being with someone else, you kind of fall into that ex-girlfriend’s shadow and are automatically labeled as the rebound (which, as everyone says, rebound relationships don’t last). I thought about how salty I was, but also how much I wanted to prove myself, and I could only assume Punchline feels the same. She takes it upon herself to carry out Joker’s orders in hopes that she would get some kind of recognition, but I thought it’d be fun to push that “petty new girlfriend” image further.
With Birds of Prey having also come out earlier last year, I thought it was fitting that the movie shows Harley post-breakup—but it’s without the mention of Punchline at all. I figured maybe pretending to add her to that story would make it more interesting, but also as the “petty new girlfriend,” you want to claim your dominance and find a way to show that you’re the next top dog.
This project came to life when I saw @maidfetish on IG draw alternate outfits for Punchline. I thought one of the outfits looked semi-similar to Harley’s BOP outfit, and that’s when it all clicked for me.
I thought if I could recreate this Punchline outfit, but have it be a very similar replica of Harley’s BOP costume, that it would make Punchline’s character become more alive. That “anything you can do, I can do better” and “ooh, she really did that”, nasty vibe—to play off with everyone saying “she could never be Harley.” It would feed off the cattiness that’s already between their characters. I find it hilarious, I dunno.
I studied Harley’s outfit and noted that it consisted of 3 specific trademarks: her caution tape jacket, her suspenders, and the two-piece. I played along with Jem’s drawing, as well as Punchline’s normal outfit, and knew the jacket would hold the bigger color, so I tried to find a large purple faux fur coat. I opted for a fur coat because I thought it’d give the similar texture of the confetti strings since I wasn’t going to get that exact jacket. The two-piece would be black to resemble her original dress, and she’s got this blue belt that goes around it, that I thought could be the color of the suspenders.
Small details would include the black heels, the J necklace Harley threw away in the movie, and her hair in two pigtails held by beads. Harley’s got two iconic colors on each side of hers, while Punchline’s got a pink streak on her ponytail and a blue one on her bangs, but for my twist with this mashup, I put the colors on Harley’s respective sides in order to keep that “parody.” I wanted to use the fishnets in Jem’s drawing, as well as Punchline’s gloves, but finding or making fishnets like that would take me a while (and I was aiming to shoot this within the next two weeks of planning), and the gloves would actually be covered by the large sleeves of the coat, so I decided to leave them aside.
My biggest problem was here. I asked my friends what the outfit was missing because I thought it lacked Harley, but they actually thought it lacked more Punchline. In her original outfit, her color scheme is purple, black, some blue, some pink, but also some green. She’s got X’s and O’s on her gloves, as well as on the top of her boots.
I took a look at the Birds of Prey costume again and the outfit already looked badass enough, but then I realized it was only “iconic” because Harley was iconic. She made this particular costume. I had to think about “what” made Harley, or what was notable about her—even in the early series. I then thought of the mallet that she carries around (more-so with this costume, too) and—as much to my dismay—I ended up running out to grab supplies to make it the day before my shoot. Originally I was thinking about buying the prop online and painting over it, but it wouldn’t ship to me in time.
For anyone wondering, I ended up sawing the end of a cane and sticking it to some kind of wooden paint bucket thing (I apologize, I don’t know the name of the item and threw away my receipt). I painted over it with Harley’s diamond design, but used Punchie’s purple color instead of red to make it more fitting to her theme. On the BOP mallet, there’s a smiley face on one side, but I thought this would be the perfect place to utilize the X’s and O’s that my friends said were lacking to my outfit. So in addition to the purple, I had the green letters on separate sides. Harley’s also got wording along the rim of the mallet, and to make my own version of it, I took one of Punchline’s quotes: “Well if you two are the jokes—and trust me, I’ve been watching you, you are the jokes… then I’m the Punchline. I’m where you end.” Of course, the line is a little long, so I had to cut part of it to make it fit. There’s also some wording on the other end of the mallet as well, and I figured maybe I could have a title to this look because “Punchline x Harley Quinn Birds of Prey” was a bit much. I pondered more on what else Punchline would do to mock Harley, or another way I could parody her, and I thought another iconic trait was the “Daddy’s Lil Monster” shirt she had in Suicide Squad. The name of that is interesting because from three words we already understand the dynamic of Harley and Joker’s relationship, how they both see each other (her as his “property,” and him as this “creator” or “owner” of this lovely mess)—even with a sexual innuendo implied.
With this new couple, we can also understand their relationship right off the bat via their names: Joker and Punchline. I really liked the “bib” statement of Harley’s shirt, but the word “Punchline” also speaks for itself because it’s got that jab or “punch” that “monster” also has, so I decided to title this project “Daddy’s Lil Punchline” … It’s semi-unoriginal, but we get the same dynamic, the same view of them and each other (him still being the main man, and her being his “secret weapon” or “surprise”), and the same innuendo. I wrote this on the other end of the mallet, but you can’t really see it from the photos, and I used a crappy green marker.
On top of shooting this, for some reason I decided WHY NOT film a dance video? I’ve wanted to get back into dancing for a while now, since my last showcase was March of last year, and it’s a hobby I genuinely enjoy and want to continue doing (like cosplay). I thought it was a little unfair that I only had a small detail of Suicide Squad and nothing else to reference it—and a song that came to mind was Nicole Jung’s Hit The Stage performance, where she dresses up as Harley and dances to Purple Lamborghini. Along with it adding to Suicide Squad, I’ve also always wanted to cover this dance in general, so I thought now was the perfect opportunity.
You can also buy a copy of Cosplay Realm Magazine to see this cosplay mashup, along with many others, featured in their February Issue: Remixes!