Controversial! Fun And Also Games! First Comic Book related blog to be featured in the Australian National Library's Pandora archive. Pop culture, music, film and comic book expert. Available to hire for public speaking, lectures, writing and almost anything else.
Three time Rondo Award nominee. Author of several books and hundreds of articles.
Proudly annoying people for sixteen years now.
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Remembering Norm Breyfogle
Norm Breyfogle was more than just a comic book artist to me. He was a
friend. A very close friend, and one whose friendship I cherished above others.
I first met Norm back in early 2003 when I approached him for an
interview for my now defunct Adelaide Comics and Books web-site. Norm instantly
agreed and the arrangements were made for a phone call. Our first call lasted
for hours as we spoke about many topics, and even talked about his career. It
set the tone. I remember that week very well, we spoke on the phone every night
for five days, just talking about stuff. We found we loved debunking conspiracy
theories and shared our favourite theories, discovering that we had one in
common which involved the moon landings and the Hubble telescope. He was tickled
that I’d managed to upset David Ickie (long story, but funny) who he felt was a crank anyway. We loved the same stuff, we loved the same artists, writers and books, the same concepts in life. Films, music and opinions, it was rare that we weren't on the same page and we were real about it. There was no faking it with Norm, he'd spot that a mile away. If we disagreed then we'd stop and listen to the other person explain things and take it on board. We had the ability to genuinely change the other one's mind.
Over that week we decided that we really liked each other and we’d stay
in touch. And we did. As much as two men could with an ocean between them, we
came to genuinely love each other. He encouraged me with my writing, I kept
approaching companies, both big and small, to hire him. I found it near
impossible to believe that Norm Breyogle, the man who made Batman so damned
good in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, was finding it hard to get work.
Be real! I annoyed the hell out of people everywhere, but it worked. He
started getting more commissions.
Norm understood why some editors didn’t want to work with him. He’d
upset a lot of people with his famous temper in the past. He was incredibly talented,
incredibly intelligent, but he had a short fuse when it came to injustice and
he would not suffer fools easily. He’d fight them, using his intellect and his
words, and he could be quite cruel at times. But, as he’d day, it wasn’t
personal and sometimes he wasn’t aware that he’d done it. On the few times that
he turned that temper on me I’d ignore it and gently remind him that he’d hurt
me. Knowing that he’d hurt me would hurt him and he’d be instantly, and
honestly, apologetic. It was all good. As I’d say to him, nobody is perfect.
Norm believed that he was enlightened and thus above a lot of people
who, he felt, had cut their minds off from such concepts of a higher plane of
existence. He felt it was sad that I wasn’t enlightened, but he knew it’d
happen eventually, and then life would be perfect. We’re still waiting.
Norm was generous to a fault. When people approached me to ask artists
for donations for various cases I’d get uncomfortable. I knew some artists were
reluctant to donate art, it meant they’d lose out on that money, and, when
you’re freelancing, money is king. Norm understood this but he’d insist on
giving, and giving generously. He’d look into the cause and if he felt it was
righteous and was doing good, he’d send a few sketches or a page of original
art, or both. He’d give his art over and lend his name to the cause.
Many charities benefited from his largesse, and still do. If he was
asked about putting his name to a banner, or a book, he’d agree on the spot. He
knew his worth.
When he got work he’d contact me and we’d talk about the merits of it
all. He sought out his own work, and controlled all the sales of his art,
eschewing agents.When I’d ask him
about this, he’d tell me that he had the best agent out there, Mike Freidrich,
and, since they’d parted ways, he saw no need to take anyone who’d not be as
good. Like most things he said, he made sense. So we’d talk about the work, and
talk about the people we’d both badgered and the responses that we got, tut
tutting the various writers and editors who, publicly, praised him but
privately wouldn’t hire him. But when they did hire him, he’d work to the
utmost of his abilities, deliver on time and be gracious. He’d never tell an
editor what he really thought of them.
Eventually one editor of a small press company put it to Norm that he
should write his autobiography. He proposed that I write it with him, so began
a process that is still going. The small press company went broke over a decade
ago, but we were still working on this book right to the end. As it stands, I
was waiting for the latest lot of changes and edits to come through – they were
due in early August.
Writing about Norm meant talking to him. There was no such thing as a
short conversation. We’d talk for hours and our conversations often took on the
form of mutual therapy sessions. Our joke was that we didn’t need shrinks, we
had each other. He encouraged me to record the conversations and listen back on
them. I’m glad I did that, no matter what, I have his voice forever.
Norm was funny and could crack the best jokes. He was deadpan, he could do a perfect Mr T impersionation and, for
someone who was so intelligent and refined, he’d collapse into giggles when
we’d discuss the latest Lobo or Shit The Dog. He loved the humour of Alan
Grant, a man who he believed had made him what he was as an artist. Alan had
encouraged him to develop and grow over the years they worked together on
Batman. God help anyone who said a bad word about Alan Grant. Trust me, he’d
cut you off and that was that. Listening to the pair of them talk to each other
over one mighty phone call was an honour. They twisted and turned, entwined
their words and found agreement, even when they saw things differently. This
was a first hand look into the world of two giants of the industry, a glimpse
that was reinforced when Norm sent me his notes, sketches, script, cast off
pages and more relating to the Batman: Dreamland project. Included in the
package were long, detailed late night faxes between Norm and Alan, in which
they’d not stop until they found a consensus.
I know Alan is suffering right now, along with all of us. Alan will be
feeling this harder than anyone, and my heart is breaking for him.
Norm might not have been a perfect man, but I loved him, and he loved
me. Our last call, after his stroke, found us both highly emotional. Norm was
trying to come to grips with losing his left arm to paralysis, thus removing
his ability to ever draw again, and I was trying to get my head around nearly
losing him. Typical, it was his anger that had brought on the stroke, his
stupid temper, as he said. I need to tell you something, he said, through
tears. I love you. I really do love you. I began to cry and he cried more. I
told him I loved him as well, and we both meant it.
There's been more tears over the past few days, mostly privately. Norm was big on keeping a strong front for others.
Right now Norm is happy. He’s complete, in no more pain and is with his
beloved mother. He’d be sad to know that everyone is upset, and he’d be touched
with the outpouring of love that has come from the past few days. If he could
speak, he’d tell people to keep on moving forward, and that he loves them.
And I’d reply, I love you too chum.
Godspeed, my brother on another country. May you find the peace that
eluded you these past few years. And if you ever need me, just pop down into my
dreams and we’ll have a chat.
The final judgement has been handed down in the long running Gary Friedrich vs Marvel (Ghost Rider) case, and now we know the full amount that Friedrich owes Marvel. That's right, Marvel, a company that stands to make millions of dollars from the upcoming Ghost Rider II movie, and is paying Nicholas Cage millions to portray a character that Friedrich created, now wants money from Friedrich - in specific $17,000. And they'd like that $17,000 now, please. In full.
This stipulation has been agreed upon and so ordered by the court, with the final judgement reflecting all that contained within. This now means that Gary Friedrich has the right to appeal, and appeal he shall, but it also means that he now owes Marvel Comics, a multi-million dollar making machine, backed by the multi-billion dollar Disney company, $17,000 and cannot ever sell anything related to Ghost Rider, nor can he even say that he created Ghost Rider for any form of gain or advertising. Well done Marvel!! …
Was Yogi Bear gay or not? It's this kind of thing that keeps me wide awake in the middle of the night, clutching at the quilt, drowning in sweat and wishing that the ghosts inside of my head would just flee and leave me be. But they don't, so I instantly turn my thoughts into other realms.
Now, Yogi. On the surface of things he appears to be a normal bear. In the historical context of things he's just a cheap copy of Art Carney's Ed Norton (actually the Honeymooners was stolen better by Warner Brothers for their cartoon series featuring mice - Ralphy boy and his neighbour Martin).
Yogi used to hang around a place called Jellystone National Park and was, for the most part, obsessed by picnic baskets. Like a demented homeless person he relentlessly stalked people, slept on park benches, probably urinated in public, harassed people and stole whatever food and anything else that he could reach. All the time he was pursued by two people, the first being the anal retentive Ra…
Go and have a read, and, more importantly, pass the word on to everyone and anyone who is thinking of travelling anywhere and booking. First rule of thumb - NEVER pay anyone via a money transfer system such as Western Union or Moneygram. They assist the scammers, and once your money is gone, those companies couldn't care less. They've got their cut. Make sure you pay in such a way that you've got recourse - if it's a money transfer then it's a scam, as far as I'm concerned.