Posts Tagged ‘norm breyfogle

Norm Breyfogle drawing Batman/Cornelius Stirk [Video]

Superstar Batman Artist Norm Breyfogle drawing Batman and Cornelius Stirk, courtesy of Club Batman.

Breyfogle returned to DC Comics with Retro-Active, repaired with his old partner Alan Grant to recreate and extend their classic Batman of the 1990s prior to the reboot and relaunch The New 52. He has since returned on a more permanent basis on Batman Beyond Unlimited.

See related:
Norm Breyfogle back at DC Comics
Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle Retro-active: a vintage interview with the star Batman creative team DC Comics has brought back for Batman Retroactive
Retroactive: Can DC Comics Win Back Lost Readers?

Written by Gotham Trending

11/14/2012 at 4:22 pm

Great Comics Artists Who Redefined Batman

io9 has a nice retrospective of the artists who have defined Batman’s look over the years.

Batman’s appearance is intended to provoke superstitious cowardice among the criminal element of Gotham City — but it’s also become a part of our culture. The bat-ears, cowl and dark silhouette are instantly recognizable. And when you think “superhero,” Bruce Wayne’s cape and cowl are among the most likely images to come to mind.

But there’s no one style of Batman that dominates our culture — he’s changed tremendously over the years, and a handful of artists have put their design stamp on Bruce Wayne. The fact that Batman still rules all our worlds is in large part due to these great artists.”

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It is encouraging to see the modern “comics reader” who knows no name but Bruce Timm and perhaps Jim Lee, being educated on the likes of Dick Sprang:

Sure, Bob Kane gets all the credit for creating Batman, but other artists did more to define the Caped Crusader for the ages — chief among them Dick Sprang. Sprang, who started working on Batman when he was just in his early 20s, was one of the main Bat-artists for the first 20 years. And he helped create what many of us consider the “classic” look of Batman — beefy and athletic, with a chunky head and a totally square jaw. As Cloud 109 puts it, “Sprang threw… naturalism out the window and dispensed with a waistline altogether. In Sprang’s Batman, the chest erupts from the utility belt, figures don’t run, they leap and everything seems to inhabit a high octane adrenalin charged world.”

Camine Infantino:

When Julius Schwartz created Batman’s “New Look” in 1964, he turned to Infantino, who was already celebrated for his work on the Flash. Infantino was instrumental in moving the character away from the goofy 1950s storylines, and helping to create a somewhat more realistic look for Batman. And I’m always kind of blown away by Batman’s puffy, expressive lips in Infantino’s drawings. Infantino aimed for sleek lines, in which he tried to “take the drawing out,” although his inker Murphy Anderson usually wound up putting it back in. Infantino’s most famous Batman image shows an intent, muscular Batman, with huge white eyes and noticeable white eyebrows, holding his dark cape over his face, while Robin squats at his feet. Batman is all business, and the slight cartoony touches only accentuate how serious he is about fighting crime.

Neal Adams:

If Infantino added a bit more realism to Batman as compared to his 1950s camp, then Neal Adams supercharged that realism, adding a lot more sharp edges and a much more dramatic, cinematic style. There’s an amazing sense of composition in some of Adams’ covers, including Batman #244, “The Demon Lives Again,” with a shirtless and apparently impaled Batman lying at Ra’s Al Ghul’s feet. Adams, in an interview, explains why his Batman was better than some of the earlier artists’ attempts: It’s that-most of those guys couldn’t draw that well. But as well as they could draw, they drew this nifty Batman, within the framework of their style and their abilities. I happen to be a slightly better, more accomplished artist. So I would tend to draw a more finished piece. Not because-not because I’m better but because that’s what I do. So it’s just what they did brought forward, and I just left out the stuff in the middle. The crap.

Although it is impossible to take the survey seriously without a single panel of Jim Aparo.

Even if the talents of one or two did lasting damage to the character and mythos, they had an impact.  The visual style comes to define the underlying philosophies of the period and will continue to do so as the popular attitudes change towards the underlying work.

Make no mistake, there is no real insight in the survey.  io9 displays no ability to see beyond the attitude of the moment towards recent and current DC creative teams.  But for those with the capacity to see beyond the fanboy’s devoted repetition of his catechism, the survey is worth a read.


Norm Breyfogle back at DC Comics

Norm Breyfogle back on a regular Batman title (almost) at DC Comics

Norm Breyfogle, the legendary Batman artist who was brought back for the summer’s Batman Retro-Active event, posted this on his facebook a few hours ago:

Finally, it’s public info; no more playing coy. Yes, I’m really enjoying penciling and inking the on-going, monthly BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED.

Also, it’s very cool to be working again with one of my first–and definitely my best–professional home: DC Comics.

We don’t have a very high opinion of “Beyond” or “Unlimited” here at Gotham Trending, but Breyfogle’s presence elevates it and his return to DC Comics elevates them.

See related:
Official Announcement on DCU Blog 
Dynamic Duo Reunited: Exclusive Interview Part 1 and Part 2
Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle Retro-active: a vintage interview with the star Batman creative team DC Comics has brought back for Batman Retroactive

Written by Gotham Trending

11/14/2011 at 6:28 pm

DC Comics announces New 52 Hardcover

Everything depends on DC Comics winning back lost fans with their reboot/relaunch “The New 52” in time for an upsurge in popularity created by The Dark Knight Rises.  The failure to erase offenses like Damien Wayne (cited by failed comic shop owners as one of the 3 episodes that cost them the most customers), plus former Batman  editor Paul Dini’s “fingerprints” all over the disappointments with Arkham City do not bode well for the success of the operation thus far.  But DC soldiers on, with announcements like this:

dc-comics-the-new-52-everything-depends-on-winning-back-fans-lost-by-mishandling-iconic-charactersOver the course of the next year, DC Comics will release at least 52 collected editions of their New 52 titles. In addition to their previously-announced oversized hardcover collecting all 52 first issues (available in December), DC announced today via its blog The Source that there will be 51 more collected editions between May and November of 2012, accounting for all but one of their launch titles. Mini- and maxi-series such as Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, The Shade and Huntress were not accounted for which is unsurprising since they’re technically not part of the 52, but the absence of the much-touted and well-liked Wonder Woman series by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang is more surprising….Go to for the rest of the article.

via DC Comics Announces ‘DC New 52′ Hardcover Collections « Old Game Reviewer.

It is the old problem: something new for committed collectors to buy, but nothing to entice the lost readers if they are not already pleased.


The long-term mishandling of Batman and his related characters, Catwoman in particular, has been instrumental in the mass-defection of long-term comics fans and subsequent failure of comic shops during the economic downturn.  There is little question that the comics giant understands it must be poised to take advantage of interest The Dark Knight Rises will bring to these characters if it is to survive.  It’s failure to take advantage of the unprecedented popularity generated by The Dark Knight and its viral in 2008 is widely speculated to have brought about the restructuring which placed the comics division under Warner Bros. control rather than the Time Warner publishing arm.  A second failure could well mean a permanent shutdown of print comics, rather than allow the rogue division to go on damaging valuable corporate properties.  More »

It is a misconception that they wiped out 75 years of comic book history, the rich heritage of Superman and Batman, etc. They wiped all that out in 1985. What they wiped out 2 weeks ago is all the garbage that’s happened since. And it has been garbage. Stunts, poor storytelling, disrespect for the characters, the fans and the medium have driven away loyal readers. It came to a head in 2008. The tiny comic book division had gone largely unnoticed by parent company Time Warner because its earnings were insignificant. The damage it could do creating bad will around billion dollar properties like Batman were not. It was in 2008 when Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and its viral by 42 Entertainment brought the Caped Crusader’s mainstream popularity to heights not seen since Batmania of the 1960s, Time Warner became aware of just how badly DC Comics Batman editor Paul Dini and head writer Grant Morrison had been insulting, angering and offending fans of The Batman and related characters like Catwoman.

More promising is the rumor that Norm Breyfogle is being courted to return to a Batman book.  Recognized as one of the only great old school Batman artists still living, Breyfogle’s inclusion in the pre-relaunch Retro-Active series was an irresistible lure to those lost Batman fans.

But can they hope for a repeat if he is drawing a Batman tainted by the last years of fan-abuse and disappointment?

See related:
Norm Breyfogle back at DC Comics
DC Comics relaunch… enough to repair the damage?

Dynamic Duo reunited: Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle | Exclusive interview @ Cary’s Comics Craze (Part 2)

Read Part 1

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).”

via Dynamic Duo reunited: Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle (CCC exclusive interview part 2) | Cary’s Comics Craze.

See Related:
Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle Retro-active: a vintage interview with the star Batman creative team DC Comics has brought back for Batman Retroactive

Written by Gotham Trending

08/16/2011 at 4:21 pm

Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle Retro-active: a vintage interview with the star Batman creative team DC Comics has brought back for Batman Retroactive

Batman in an Alley, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, DC Comics Retroactive A lot is riding on DC Comics efforts to reconnect with Batman fans they have alienated over the last 10 years.  The Dark Knight Rises presents an opportunity that cannot be ignored, and fans have said repeatedly that they simply don’t trust the writers and editors responsible for the story arcs that drove them away.  What better solution than to bring back the team who took such splendid advantage of the Batman mania created by the Tim Burton blockbuster in 1989?  Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle have been brought back for the third in an epic look back:  Retroactive.  The series began with Batman Retroactive of the 70s in July, the 80s in August, and now, at last, the return of Grant and Breyfogle in Batman of the 90s.

This telling interview is from 2007, as Breyfogle and Grant look back on their time on the Detective Comics and Batman titles, long before there was any glimpse of this project.


The 1980s were very good to Batman in general. A number of highly talented artists and writers all worked on the title, one of DC’s flagships. Towards the end of the ‘80s Batmania exploded with the release of Tim Burton’s first Batman movie, the self titled gothic blockbuster starring Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton. The success of the movie helped establish the comic book as one of the most read of the decade.

The array of talent that appeared in the book is staggering by any stretch of the imagination. Gene Colan, Don Newton, Walter Simonson, Michael Golden, Michael Netzer and Jim Aparo had all drawn Batman, Batman Family or Detective Comics before the explosion that followed Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and the Alan Moore/Brian Bolland one-shot, The Killing Joke. After those two projects and Miller’s Year One (drawn in superb style by David Mazzuchelli) series the books saw an even more amazing line-up for detective Comics resulting in Mike W Barr teaming up with the (relatively) new English art team of Alan Davis and Paul Neary. After that team left the book Todd McFarlane––later to find fame and fortune at both Marvel and Image (Spawn)––took over for a three issue run. Then a number of artists and writers travelled through until stability was found with the pairing of two men, initially three.

When DC asked noted English writer John Wagner and his writing partner Alan Grant to write the title they accepted expecting fortune to follow. When the royalties didn’t eventuate Wagner left, allowing Grant to retain his by-line. Both Grant and Wagner had learnt their craft in England on the seminal 2000AD comic book and Grant brought with him concepts that he’d previously explored and touched upon. Paired with Grant was one of the best of the ‘young turks’ in DC’s art stable: Norm Breyfogle. Breyfogle was self taught and had come up through the ranks at independent companies such as First Comics before landing a job as one of the artists through the revolving door at DC. In order to garner some stability DC settled on the team of Grant and Breyfogle on Detective and allowed them free reign to create as they saw fit. The result was one of the best runs by a creative team on a book at any point in comic book history.

Breyfogle’s expressionistic artwork was more than a compliment to Grant’s challenging scripts. For five years they confronted both readers and editors alike and instead of falling back to the standard stories and characters the duo set about creating their own concepts and characters. In Grant’s case this was more out of necessity as he admits he didn’t have a wide range of knowledge of the history of Batman, unlike Breyfogle. Together the pair introduced several new characters, Anarky, Scarface, The Ventriloquist, The Fear, and the all purpose good guy, Harold, along with producing the issue of Batman that introduced Tim Drake as Robin in his all-new costume. Decades before Frank Miller announced that he would be sending Batman on a search for Osama Bin Laden, Grant and Breyfogle landed Batman in the United Kingdom to tackle terrorists. Decades before Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee would have Clayface pretending to be the late Robin re-incarnated, Grant and Breyfogle covered it. Indeed a lot of the concepts that exist in the Batman titles today can be traced back to the Grant/Breyfogle run.

Recently Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle sat down and spoke about their five years working on Batman, a conversation that also brought up quite a few other topics.

NORM BREYFOGLE: I sent Alan a big amount of little instances of what I’d like to see (for a future Batman project), but I’ll leave it all up to Alan of course. It might be all new stuff. Whether or not Anarky will be in there, well who knows? Only Alan knows at this point. Do you know, Alan?
ALAN GRANT: No, I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about the guy and wondering how he would have turned out. I read over some of the previous Anarky stuff that we did – or rather that I did, what I was made to do – and [laughter] I don’t know if you ever read this but during the Cataclysm story line, when Gotham was devastated by an earthquake, for reasons which I could not make rational or logical in the story, Batman sought out Anarky and told him he had to leave the city or Batman would come down on him like two ton of concrete. It didn’t make sense. You’d think if Gotham was in pieces then Batman would want all the help he could get. But he threw Anarky out of the city and just disappeared for months.
NB: I actually drew that scene in an issue of Anarky I believe. You probably wrote it into a number of titles, though.
AG: Right, yeah. Reading over that I was not so happy with the way I’d written that because it didn’t make sense to me at the time and it doesn’t make sense now. That’s what happens when you let editorial assistants come up with story ideas rather than the guy who’s getting paid to do the writing.
NB: That’s an extension of what happens when you create a character that’s close to your heart and let someone else own it.
AG: [chuckles] Yeah, that’s true. [laughter] If you create something that’s close to your heart and you don’t own it, “Oh woe is me!” [laughter]
DANIEL BEST: Let’s go right back to the beginning. Norm, you did at least one or two issues of Detective before Alan came along and Alan, you started writing it with John Wagner.
AG: John and I were working on Judge Dredd one day when we got a call from Denny O’Neil. Denny was saying that basically Detective Comics was selling below its break even point, they were making a loss on it as opposed to a profit, and there was talk of closing it down unless he could turn it around. He had the bright idea of giving it to a couple of Brits and seeing if we could come up with different stuff. He basically gave us a two issue trial and that’s when we used the Ventriloquist, which we had actually created for another story in 2000AD, but we used it in Batman instead. Denny liked the two issues and signed us up for a year. At that time you didn’t get royalties working for any British comics and John and I were looking forward to getting some royalties on Batman because American writers and artists got royalties depending on the sales. After five months or so the first royalty statements came in and the sales were still below break even and there were no royalties. John took one look at it and quit. Basically John and I wrote five issues together, and I wrote all the rest of the run on my own. I kept John’s name on the comic for the rest of the first year because we had signed a contract and I didn’t want to give DC any excuse to fire me.
NB: Oh wow, I didn’t know that, or if I did I forgot.
AG: That’s a long time ago now Norm.
NB: That’s true. Did John ever tell you later on that he wished he’d stayed?
AG: John could never bring himself to say it, but I could see the sick look in his eyes when I showed him some of the royalty cheques that I got from Batman. After the Burton movie came out and sales went into the stratosphere, royalties went up amazingly.
NB: Do you remember what the sales point, what the break even point was in numbers?
AG: When we first started on it, it was 80,000 per month and Detective was selling 75,000.
NB: 80,000 is a great success these days.
AG: Yeah. I know, I know.
NB: So were they lying to us about the break even point back then?
AG: No, but it was a news-stand title back then and if you look at the price it was about seventy five cents and if you look at the price of a comic now it’s about $2.75. When we started on Detective I’m pretty sure it was seventy five cents and it was selling approximately 75,000. It was like that for the first year, maybe a year and a half that we were on it and suddenly the Burton movie was released and sales shot up to 650,000 for the three issues…

More ».

See related:
Dynamic Duo: Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle talk Batman Retroactive (Exclusive interview @ Cary’s Comics Craze)
DC Retroactive: Batman – The ’80s
DC Comics relaunch… enough to repair the damage?
Retroactive: Can DC Comics Win Back Lost Readers?

Written by Gotham Trending

08/16/2011 at 1:40 am

Dynamic Duo: Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle talk Batman Retroactive (Exclusive interview @ Cary’s Comics Craze)

CCC: What kind of ideas did you have for the RETROACTIVE project? Was there anything left over from your DETECTIVE and SHADOW OF THE BAT runs that seemed natural to include or you felt needed to be wrapped up?

GRANT: “DC wanted a stand-alone Batman story, but preferably one that grew out the body of my previous Dark Knight work.

“I wanted to try to recapture the kind of stories Norm Breyfogle and I were doing in the early ‘90s. Although I’d have liked to do an Anarky story, I didn’t know what DC had been doing with the character in my absence. So eventually it came down to the toss of a coin between ‘The Nobody’ (SHADOW OF THE BAT No. 13) and ‘Trash’ (DETECTIVE COMICS No. 613). I decided on ‘Trash,’ because it allowed me to use one of my favorite villains, the Ventriloquist and Scarface — and also because it tied in with the Scarface toy and Arkham Asylum computer game.

“There was nothing that needed to be wrapped up in this tale, but the fact that DC is reprinting the original ‘Trash’ story in back of the Retroactive comic was what swayed me — “Trash” was one of my all-time favorites from my 13-year stint on the Dark Knight.”

BREYFOGLE: “Alan knew only that he was to write a new story set in the ‘90s, and that it would be published in the RETROACTIVE 1990s book alongside a re-printed Batman story he and I had produced back then (in the ‘90s). Alan (and I, I suppose) were given the choice of what old story of ours DC would reprint and Alan and I agreed that, ideally, the reprint story would be a complete-in-one-issue story and the new story we’d produce would be connected in some manner to that old story. So, I phoned Alan late one night and gave him a few suggestions, but it was entirely up to him to make the story decisions, of course, since he’s the writer of our team.

“One of my suggestions was that we revisit the ‘An American Batman in London’ story, because terrorism is still a very pertinent subject today (however, that story was actually published not in the ‘90s, but in 1989). Alan finally decided, instead, to revisiting the one-issue ‘Trash’ storyline we’d produced in 1990 largely because, instead of wanting to write about terrorism, he instead preferred writing a story featuring perhaps the most famous Batman Rogues’ Gallery villain he and I had introduced to the Batman mythos: The Ventriloquist.”

Want to read more? Come back to CCC where Grant and Breyfogle exclusively give their own pitches for the RETROACTIVE issue, talk about being re-immersed in the Batman universe, their creative process this time around — and the possibility of them working together again.

More » CCC exclusive interview) | Cary’s Comics Craze.

See related:
Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle Retro-active: a vintage interview with the star Batman creative team DC Comics has brought back for Batman Retroactive

Written by Gotham Trending

08/03/2011 at 3:42 pm