Remembering Comic Book Creator Norm Breyfogle on His Birthday, February 27

Ask comic book readers about their definitive Batman artist, and you’ll hear some say Norm Breyfogle.  Norman Keith Breyfogle was born February 27, 1960, and died on September 24, 2018.  In a career that spanned four decades off and on with the same character, Norm contributed some of the finest Batman stories and helped create new characters within the Batman universe that are still appreciated by fans to this day. Today we celebrate his birthday by looking back on his career and fondly remembering some of his finest works. 

Tech Team #1 (1978) – Breyfogle actually illustrated this comic book while he was still in High School.
Racer X #10 (07/1989) – Norm freelanced for several publishers before primarily working for DC Comics. Although only contributing the cover to his issue, it certainly does catch the readers eye.

Norm was a bit of a child prodigy, showing artistic talent early in his hometown of Houghton, Michigan.  By age 17 he was hired to draw his first comic book, Tech Team for Michigan Technical University, which saw print in 1978.  His first mainstream work came for DC Comics New Talent Showcase #11 published in 1984.

Detective Comics #606 (10/1989) – Batman is haunted by the death of Jason Todd. Look at the anguish on his face.
Batman #465 (07/1991) – A homage to Batman #9 published in May 1942, Breyfogle didn’t just swipe the original, but changed the background and poses to make this cover his own!

After a few years of freelance work that saw his art published by DC, Marvel, First and Eclipse, he was hired for a 15-page story in Batman Annual #11.  That was the beginning of a four-decade career on Batman.  During his run, Norm helped create and establish characters such as Anarky, Victor Zsasz, the Ratcatcher, and my personal favorites, the Ventriloquist and Scarface. 

Batman: Holy Terror (11/1991) – The original Holy Terror (sorry Frank), this was the first official Elseworlds story from the long-running DC imprint.
Metaphysique #1 (04/1995) – This is the cover to Norm’s second Metaphysique series. This six issue series saw the end of his creator-owned franchise.
Bloodshot #30 (07/1995) – One thing I always liked about Breyfogle’s work was his facial expressions. There’s no doubt the emotion he’s trying to evoke here.

Norm had several personal projects of his own that he was very proud of, including Metaphysique, which saw two incarnations.  First was a two-issue series for Eclipse published in 1992, and then a six-issue series for Malibu in 1995.  My personal favorite work of Norm’s was his time on DC Comics The Spectre, with writer J.M. DeMatteis.  Norm also had a nostalgic take on Archie and the Riverdale gang in the 2000s as well.  Still, it’s his time on Batman that comic book readers remember the most. 

Batman: The Abduction (06/1998) – Norm frequently collaborated with Alan Grant and they definitely had a creative synergy that showed on the page.
Batman: Dreamland (07/2000) – Batman in the Thinker’s pose seems so obvious, yet I don’t recall it ever being done before.
Batman: Retroactive 1990s (10/2011) – Norm’s final Batman cover featuring two of his most famous co-creations: Scarface and the Ventriloquist.

It was more than just the stories that Norm Breyfogle was part of, it was his version of Batman that fans found so appealing.  Here was a character that was basically being drawn the exact same way for years.  Norm found a way to take that character and give him a new look without changing his costume.  His rendition of Batman was instantly recognizable and it’s the way I still picture Batman in my mind to this day. 

How about you?  Who is your definitive Batman artist?  Is there a particular Norm Breyfogle book you enjoy?  Let us know in the comments section below.  Thank you for reading, and Happy Birthday Norm!

Batman: Birth of the Demon (1992) – We usually cap the cover images at 10, but I couldn’t resist. This is the original fully painted wrap-around cover for the Birth of the Demon graphic novel without the trade dress.

“Don’t worry about how you should draw it.  Just draw it the way you see it.” – Tim Burton

Thanks for reading!

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