World’s Finest Comic Book Artists: Norm Breyfogle
I am writing this after hearing the sad news recently that Norm Breyfogle suffered a stroke last month which affected the left side of his body, including his drawing arm. Unfortunately, and contrary to popular belief, comic book artists are not as highly paid as you might think and Norm has no health insurance and so is struggling to pay his medical bills, an online fundraising campaign was started by his brother Kevin and has so far raised approximately $85,000 of its $200,000 goal.
Also to help with the funding, comic-book writer and Batman Beyond collaborator, Adam Beechen is auctioning an original piece of cover art for the Batman Beyond series signed by Mr Breyfogle. I will provide links to these at the bottom of this post, but would just like to wish Mr Breyfogle the best of luck in his hopefully full recovery and the raising of the funds to cover his necessary medical bills.
I have been a fan of Batman since I was six years of age, and though my favourite period of his adventures was the mid seventies, drawn by the amazing Neal Adams and written by the inimitable Denny O’Neil, I was too young to read them at the time. The Batman I actually grew up with was the eighties version, this is post Frank Miller’s ground-breaking and character changing: Dark Knight Returns, and of all the fantastic artists that drew the continuing adventures of everyone’s favourite nocturnal, pointy eared vigilante, without a doubt my favourite was Norm Breyfogle. Teamed up with British comic writer Alan Grant they created some of the greatest Batman tales ever put to paper throughout their extremely long run (1987-1993) on Batman’s premium title Detective Comics. Norm’s style suited the character beautifully, angular, gothic and almost Germanic in its form, he would go on to set a precedent for how we view the look of the Batman today.
Norm was born in Iowa City in February 1960, and began taking art lessons at the age of twelve, he won his first award for his work the same year at a local country art show. When he was sixteen a Michigan newspaper profiled him as a ‘Master Cartoonist at age 16′. After graduating from High School, Norm attended Michigan University where he studied painting and illustration, during his time here he illustrated a book titled Bunyan Lore’s Loggin’ Hero.
In 1982 after leaving college he worked as a technical illustrator for United Space Boosters, where he designed and drew a training manual for the space shuttle program. After being discovered at a San Diego comic convention, Norm drew a six page story for DC’s New Talent Showcase, from here he would continue on to be a very successful and popular artist for such titles as Tales of Terror, American Flagg and eventually teaming up with the aforementioned Alan Grant on Detective Comics in 1987.
Since that time Norm has worked on The Spectre and DC Retroactive for DC Comics, The Wild Damned for Mazz Press and has had his work showcased in Archie comics. He also did advertisement illustrations for companies outside of the comic industry that included Nike, Time Out and album cover artwork for various bands. More recently Norm has been working on the Batman Beyond series with writer Adam Beechen, coming full circle back to the franchise that helped catapult him into comic artist superstardom. Get well soon Norm, you will always be the greatest Batman artist of all time to me and your innumerable fans.