Oh my god
Oh my god
This is the ask that I was born to answer. I have been waiting my whole life for this. Thank you for this, Fleet. You are amazing.
This is also really long. Whoops.
I love getting in Harvey’s brain. Unlike the other two villains I’m writing on a semi regular basis in WIPs (Tommy Elliot/Hush and the Joker), I like being in his head because I feel as though he’s got a lot going on that needs to be explored by the pros as well as fandom. Like there is nuance up the wazoo with Harvey even with a straight shot look at comics and cartoon canon (I call it the dudebro reading where there’s no racebending going off or where you actively refrain from reading queerness into it like most dudebros do when they interact with a character like him.
I like dealing with his relationship with Bruce. It’s so fraught with just… so much. I started shipping it from the animated series (which was my first experience with the character and why i thought he was Black until maybe 2011 or so
and even then I really don’t care for any other view of him) and even now, rewatching every single interaction between Bruce and Bruce is an event because their interactions are gold. I hope to capture even a small amount of that emotion in my one WIP (the high school story where early cracks in their relationship — platonic and otherwise — start to show) because the idea of getting my hands all up on that tension-filled angstpile of a relationship gives me chills.
And that’s even without the shippy stuff.
I’m also very much about how room for adaptation there is. There’s absolutely nothing in canon in says that he’s not biracial. Nothing in canon that says that he’s not bisexual. There’s so much freedom to write Harvey in a way that makes sense to me but also meshes with canon because there’s an absence of detail there.
I have another WIP set in the same universe where Harvey is at Yale with Lex and the freedom to have these characters interact, to have them snark at each other and pal around while there’s this glimmer of the men that they’re on the way to becoming. It kills me that I can’t get further with that WIP because it is actually my favorite thing because canon doesn’t disprove it.
There are so many people with their comic pro fingers in Harvey Dent throughout the years that only a few things are canon and consistent. One thing I like is freedom to do what I want (within reason, I guess) and writing Harvey does give me that freedom because there’s so much that we’re not told, where filling in the blanks is the easiest thing because of a lack of information or conflicting information.
My least favorite thing about writing Harvey is how much work it takes to come to terms with canon and my headcanons. I never want to erase what makes a bad guy a bad guy and despite all the ways that Harvey is sympathetic in various pieces of canon (and also mishandled by canon in terms of how they handle his mental health among other things), he’s also a huge jerk at times.
I read Gotham Central before I listened to the No man’s land audiobook so I knew that Harvey outed Renee and that was something that, if I was writing a Harvey that went on to become Two-Face, I wouldn’t erase. But then listening to No man’s land just… made it so difficult for me and I remember that I couldn’t figure out if I felt bad for Harvey at all or if I could even feel bad for him when Renee was so uncomfortable in his presence. Her internal process was distressing and his were just disturbing.
And even though I’m rarely writing a Harvey that undergoes the acid burns and scarring, my Harvey is always at least dealing with mild brainjunk issues. He always has bad brainjunk going on and while sometimes he’s an antihero or Bruce’s friendly shoulder devil, he’s often just not a good guy.
Remembering that on top of how fond I am of his character and making sure that I’m not sanitizing every aspect of his character that makes me uncomfortable is something I struggle with. Because I have such an issue with people woobifying bad guys and I worry that in making Harvey more relatable (to me, mainly, let’s be real here) I’m doing the same thing. And it’s a struggle.
Another thing that’s not so fun about writing Harvey is figuring out descriptive language. My Harvey is always biracial and I have two faceclaims/fan casts for him at different periods of his life (a young Mark Taylor for Harvey aged 16-early 20s and Rick Fox in general). Describing Harvey’s features and finding a balance between giving too much description and too little is so freaking hard. Like I want people to read Harvey in my stories the way I do without the aid of a fancast sheet like the one I made here and my grasp of descriptive language that isn’t entirely purple is… weak at best.
I’m also not a fan of how long it takes me to get into a headspace to write him properly. That’s more on me than on his character, but still… It’s a thing. Once I’m in my Harvey zone, I can tackle him easy peasy, in fact, i enjoy writing him more than a lot of the characters that I normally write
And like… few people write Harvey as anything other than the increasingly one-dimensional villain he’s been for a while (I mean, offhand I only can think of like a handful in recent years) so I’d say that the main thing I’d want authors to keep in mind when writing him. He’s capable of being used as more than a growly rage beast of a villain. Get into his head, figure out what you like about him and don’t like about him. Understand that hey, he’s not a very nice guy, and you can work with that in different ways.
I like a subtly menacing Harvey the best at all, whether or not he’s using the menace for evil or otherwise. I like a Harvey that’s dressed in a sleek gray suit and has a smile on his face. A nice smile on the surface that shifts to something subtle and nasty when he sees something or someone he doesn’t like or a wide, happy smile when Bruce (or Lex in some universes I write) walks up to him.
Like… there’s so much that can be done with Harvey to bump him up and explore his character beyond “guy that flips a coin and likes things in twos sometimes and also kills people”. I wish people would kind of feel the same freedom I do to explore that. I wish he’d get more focus than he does from fandom and canon because he’s got so much potential and he’s just a good character especially for getting a pin on your own personal demons. Like… geez, fandom… embrace him. Explore him. Write him often as something other than a flat/stock bad guy character in your fics.
Vonn/harshcutieszoos writes a freaking FANTASTIC Harvey and zir thoughts on stuff that has helped shaped my understanding of Harvey (and solidified many of my thinky and not-so-positive thoughts about Bruce and Alfred in canon in and out of relation to Harvey) are just… top tier yo. Top freaking tier.
I will always (ALWAYS) recommend everything Te has written with or about Harvey Dent as a way to get a look at how layered he can be in fannish works. I think you know this because I wail about this on twitter often enough, but like… DANG, what a good Harvey. He’s just… really freaking well done and i lived for her exploration of his and Bruce’s relationship because a lot of it got me thinking about how I have been seeing their relationship. (And her meta — oh god her meta on Bruce/Harvey felt like it was my birthday come 4 months early. I keep figeting and going back to it because I need to memorize it and like sink into it.)
And also Te is the reason why I feel confident enough to write him at all so maybe I could just like wave a banner for everyone like “hello, Te writes a Harvey that is freaking fabulous so please check her out because wow”, because like… Te’s works (and, more recently, her meta) have really helped me strengthen or change a lot of my thoughts on quite a few characters that I had issues feeling out either through her actual headcanons/works or through my personal reactions to them.
I… just realized how long this was. I’m… sorry?
But thank you for asking me this because apparently, I had a ton to say about Harvey.