Dynamic Duo reunited: Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle | Exclusive interview @ Cary’s Comics Craze (Part 2)
In my last post, one of the comic book industry’s most overlooked Dynamic Duos — writer Alan Grant and artist Norm Breyfogle — talked about their ideas DC RETROACTIVE: BATMAN — THE ‘90s. (The one-shot issue, which comes with a new story about The Ventriloquist and Scarface plus a reprint of the “Trash” story from DETECTIVE COMICS No. 613, comes out Aug. 17.)
But there’s more of my exclusive interview! Here, they give me their best pitches for the RETROACTIVE project, how they were approached for the issue, what it was like going back to Gotham City and working together again. Enjoy, CCC readers!
CCC: Give me your best pitch for your latest project in three sentences or less.
GRANT: “What is life, and what does it mean? Batman inadvertently finds out in this fast-moving story.”
BREYFOGLE: “Neither Alan Grant nor I pitched the idea to DC. Instead, Jim Chadwick (DC editor) approached us with the offer. Then, Alan wrote a script, and I don’t know whether or not he wrote a short synopsis first. However, I suspect you’re asking me for a plot or concept summary, right? Well … first of all, this is how DC comics has referred to the story:
“Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle revisit a pair of villains closely associated with their original run on The Caped Crusader: The Ventriloquist and Scarface! Released on a technicality one year after being arrested, this bizarre duo is determined to reclaim their status in the upper echelon of Batman’s Rogues Gallery. This ‘lost tale’ of the era spins directly out of DETECTIVE COMICS #613, reprinted in this issue!”
“I’d only add that the story includes a new ‘garbage zombie’ villain character whom Batman must defeat, as well as a young Gothamite couple who are soon to be parents. All collide together in Alan’s synchronistic, climactic ending to his masterfully fluid plot.”
CCC: How and when did DC approach you about doing this RETROACTIVE story?
GRANT: “A couple of months back, via an e-mail from Senior Editor Jim Chadwick.”
BREYFOGLE: “I think it was at the end of April that I received an email from Jim Chadwick asking me if I was available. After not having been asked to do any work with DC Comics for the last 8 to 10 years, the offer came as quite a pleasant surprise to me. Luckily, my work with Archie Comics was winding down at precisely that time, so I was able to accept DC’s offer.”
CCC: What was it like getting re-immersed in the Batman universe? Were there any creative adjustments you had to make?
GRANT: “I felt almost as if I was coming home, especially with Norm Breyfogle as the artist. I worked with many talented illustrators over the years — and a couple of dogs as well! — but Norm stands head and shoulders above all others as my take on the definitive Batman artist.
“No creative adjustments were necessary.”
BREYFOGLE: “The only adjustment that had to be made concerned which version of Batman’s costume I’d be drawing, for it was in the ‘90s that Batman first adopted the all-black costume reminiscent of all of the modern Batman films. At first I argued for our using the all black design and I was planning on drawing and a having it colored that way, but then we decided that for the vast majority of the time I was drawing Batman, he’d worn the blue/grey or black/grey uniform, and that’s what Batman wore in the ‘Trash’ story, too, so that’s what we went with, instead.
“Other than that, it was very interesting to me how perfectly natural it felt to be drawing one of Alan’s Batman scripts again. It was as if the last couple of decades had never passed at all, as if we’d only taken a couple of weeks off! Of course, I know it felt that way for me because Alan’s script was as good any he’d ever written and because I’ve been drawing comics steadily all along and so I haven’t had time to get rusty at all (in fact, I’ve only gotten better). Still, it was an eerie kind of feeling to have entire decades of time seem like almost nothing at all.”
CCC: What was it like working again with Norm Breyfogle?
GRANT: “Brilliant! His work has matured over the years, but he’s still the most dynamic artist around. His storytelling, expressionistic art and vision of Batman dovetails exactly with my own love for the character. It’s almost as if we can read each other’s minds.”
CCC: How was the creative process this time around compared to your previous collaborations?
GRANT: “Exactly the same as it used to be. Norm sent me a couple of suggestions — for instance, a lengthy fight scene that I could leave to him to choreograph — and I took it from there. That said, Norm and I often collaborated more closely in the past — I remember once coming home from holiday to find a 52-page fax from him, absolutely bristling with ideas, philosophies and suggestions.”
BREYFOGLE: “Identical, except that now DC accepts only scans; they no longer send or receive original art through the mail as they were still doing the last time I’d worked with them in 2001 or 2002 (when I was penciling The Spectre).”