Happy 50th Birthday Norm Breyfogle!!!
Norm is a fearless artist. When you consider that he was tapped to draw Detective Comics on the back of his Bob Violence and Whisper work you soon become impressed. When you also consider the quality of talent that he was following: Gene Colan, Don Newton, Jim Aparo and, his most immediate predecessors, Alan Davis, Paul Neary, Todd McFarlane and Pablo Marcos you really start to understand the quality of his spirit. Most artists would have been daunted, but not Norm, he was born to draw Batman and in the process quickly forged his own style and identity and proved his selection correct. It helped that he was matched with one of the best, and most original, writers that Batman has ever seen in the form of Alan Grant. A match made in heaven. From that point Norm has never looked back, even when DC began to refuse to hire him he ruminated and moved onwards and upwards. Hey, DC, give the man his due and put him back on a Batman project, or at least reprint that incredible body of work. And Marvel, you do the same. Norm on any project will enhance the quality of the final product.
More than an artist, Norm is my friend, and I'm damned proud to say that. I first 'met' Norm back in 2003 when I approached him for an interview for my main web-site. Norm was open and agreeable, and we conducted the interview over two nights (his phone battery died) and since then we've talked more and emailed as frequently as possible. We've collaborated together, and will be doing so again in the future as I begin the final work on the long overdue Art Of Norm Breyfogle book, which was commissioned by a now defunct publisher a few years back.
One of my greatest thrills came a few years back when I posted a short synopsis for a Batman story on Norm's forum. Norm mentioned how he'd love to draw the story, one thing led to another and we decided to pitch the idea to DC. I had contact with another close pal, Alan Weiss, who helped me tighten the concept, Norm and myself worked it up and we sent it in. Only later did I realise what I'd done - I pitched a Batman story to DC with Norm Breyfogle attached as the artist. In my eyes only Alan Grant should do that, but JESUS CHRIST (as a close pal of mine would say), there it was. That DC probably never looked at it matters not. We still have it, and I'm sure we could adapt it to another company, barring Archie...so there's a strong hint for you.
Norm was always a class act in my eyes, and is even more so today. Norm has always been there for me, in good times and bad, and has words, and haiku's, for every occasion and can cheer me up like nobody else can. He's gone into bat for me without me asking and fed me stories along the way, and given me exclusives. Hell, he agreed instantly for me to write his life story and that kind of trust is hard to fathom. I'm now at the stage where I'm reluctant to ask him for anything because when I do, he delivers. As such many requests come through me, for Norm. They get passed on, but with disclaimers. I'm sure people think it's funny that I name drop him, but seriously, he's part of my family now, and, to be perfectly honest, I'd be happier than anyone, and anything, to have Norm as a brother. That's the level of esteem that we hold Norm in over here. What a guy!!
Norm turns 50 today, which is a cause to celebrate in any culture. True to form he gets two days of celebrations as time zones pass by. Norm, you're the greatest. We all love you here, and wish to see much more of you and your art, as time goes on. The comic book industry has a bad habit of not showing their appreciation for people while they're still alive, so here's your chance. Post a comment here, visit Norm's forums and post there, send Norm an email via his web-site, visit him on Facebook, write your own blog entry and send me the link - do any number of things, but wish him a happy birthday and tell him what a damn good guy he is.
And for those who might not know, here's a random sampling of Norm's art over the years. Some of it you might have seen, some not. And trust me, this is only a drop in the artistic ocean of art that Norm has produced over the decades. May there be much more to come!!