Wednesday, September 04, 2013

ON THE FIVE: Interviewing Norm Breyfogle

It's no secret that I miss The Ultraverse titles. Malibu Comics took a handful of reliable industry veterans and gave them room to show newcomers to the medium how they earned that station. Chief among them, the man who drew my favourite Suicide Squad cover of all, iconic Batman artist Norm Breyfogle.

Looking at my stack of Prime comics, I decided to flick Norm five questions from a fan perspective, and before you could say 'Rouge Prime is a wuss' he responded;

IADW) You've done everything at San Diego Comic Con, from being hired for work to receiving awards such as "Most Popular Artist". With Con season a proving ground for many artists hoping to have similar successes, how do you view their potential?

Norm Breyfogle) Although I'm not attending any Cons this summer, whenever I do attend a Con (at least a few per year) I'm always struck by how much talent is up-and-coming, and I wonder at the competition they face amongst themselves in the process of "breaking in" (and what competition I face, as well). I well remember how hungry and naive I was way back when (seems like just yesterday, in fact), and I realize how many dreams are waiting and hoping to be fulfilled in the younger talent's eyes, and I wish them well.

IADW) The Breyfogle shadow looms large over Gotham City. Six years on titles like Detective Comics, Anarchy and Batman leaves a milestone that's pretty hard to beat. How does one man handle having had such an impact on pop culture's most globally famous icon?

N.B.) Ha ha. You're being extremely complimentary there; thanks. Please relate that sentiment to present DC editors!

I don't really know how to answer that. I'm just very grateful that I've been able to make a living as an artist/illustrator for about 27 years running now. Believe me, after 5 or 6 thousand pages it's not the big deal that it seemed during my first professional years. The only thing that hasn't really changed is my desire to do good work whenever I have a job on the drawing table.

IADW) Your art launched Prime, the first title of the highly-missed Ultraverse line at Malibu. How did it feel to be in on the ground floor of a whole new super-hero universe? Did you have any idea how well the project was going to be received?

N.B.) Since Malibu Comics was very good at promoting their stuff, and since I attended a couple of their early press conferences, all before really doing much work for them at all, I did indeed sense that it was going to be a fairly big, visible event.

How did it feel? It was very exciting, and the work was very different from my Batman work (Prime was a bombastic and humorous character compared to the "night creature" that Batman is), so I found it very refreshing.

I drew Prime during the prime of my career; I always thought that was kind of a cute nominal coincidence. I only wish it could have lasted longer. Sadly, Marvel purchased and then stopped publishing all of the Ultraverse characters.

IADW) Malibu was home to your creator-owned comic Metaphysique. What advice can you give people looking to get into creator owned comics based on your experience?

N.B.) Geez, I don't think I'm the person to ask such a question. It was practically handed to me by Malibu as part of the negotiations to get me away from Batman, and Malibu handled all the publishing, distribution, etc., while I just wrote and drew it.

IADW) Who is your personal Superman and why?

N.B.) Oh, I don't have just one. There are so many, and I don't think I could name just one. Some I'd put on such a list would be my mother (Lois Ann Roberts/Breyfogle), various comics creators and other types of artists, and various fictional characters.

Some of my top heroes are:
My Mom (I credit her with encouraging my open mind)
Neal Adams (for his talent and his work on behalf of creator's rights)
Spartacus (for his anti-slavery stance)
Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Hoffa (for similar reasons as Spartacus)
Captain Kirk
Batman (of course) and all Superheroes
Jesus of Nazareth
Alan Watts (the philosopher)
Galileo Galilei
This list could go on and on...

Actually, it's pretty telling that I can't put on that list any people who I know really well, personally, besides my mother. Our small family moved around alot when I was a child and so I spent a lot of time alone and learned to entertain and motivate myself, and just about all my big inspirations came through the wider culture at large.

If I had to pick just one, it would be my mother. If anyone wonders why not my father (Gerry Breyfogle), too, it's because my parents were divorced when I was 3 and I can't really remember my dad or say that he had any big influence over me... except genetically, because he has drawing ability and I think I got that from him.

It's always great when giants of the industry turn out to be so humble and modest about their contributions, and Norm definitely is. A massive 'Thank You' again goes out to this living legend, for his energy in the creation of this interview, and being so open with his answers - it is truly appreciated.

 What do you think?  To see more of Norm's incredible career, visit his official website after the jump.


  1. that Suicide Squad cover always reminded of Brian Bolland's style. good stuff from the days when DC and the Squad didn't suck.

  2. Wonderful interview again Dan. I miss Malibu. It's an imprint I wish Marvel would bring back sometime, even as a single event.
    That cover of S.S. was so dramatic you couldn't help but stare down the barrel and try not to blink. Mr. Breyfogle sounds like a rare thing in the comics industry, a talented artist who is happy to work. Thanks for snagging a chat with him. :)

  3. Thanks for the comments guys!

    As bad as it maybe to say, that cover is when I really saw Barbera's post Killing Joke potetial highlight itself. She was one of comics' best stories of turning lemons into lemonade as Oracle, and that Clint Eastwood style sure showed she meant business!

    I hope Marvel dusts them off at some point too Random. It's probably creator rights spaghetti at the momment, but Norm's Prime and concepts like Lord Pumpkin and Rune deserve more airtime.

  4. Thanks Jason! Glad you liked it mr!

  5. I'll second Jason's and everyone else's, and say very well done interview Dan. Like a good number of people, I too wondered what the hell ever happened to Norm Breyfogle. Now I kinda, sorta know. Damn, damn shame DC or any other major comic publisher doesn't snatch him up for work. He's a well-established pro, who I'm sue can met his deadlines, yet put in the work and detail belaying his skills.

    He definitely was one of THE Batman artists of the late 80's-early 90's for sure.

    See, I told you guys Dan was like the Anderson Cooper of our little circle;)

  6. Thanks Dale - I'm glad you like it! Norm runs a really consistently updated Facebook page too, and that helps - there's even one run by someone else who dedicates the page to just his version of Batman alone. How many other artists can say that?

    Sometimes five questions seems too few, and this was one of them.

    Thanks as always for your comments Mr!