Thursday, September 19, 2013

Public Written Apology to Norm Breyfogle

Although I was originally a Marvel collector, it wasn’t long before I added Batman titles to my pull list.

This is because of one fundamental truth of comic books:

There is no better comic than a good Batman story.

Along with mini series and specials, I followed the main Batman title, then run by Marv Wolfman and Jim Aparo. I steered clear of Detective because of what I considered in my young and foolish days as images “not looking like the real Batman.” My opinion was no doubt colored by the occasional issues seen as a child with Batman drawn by Aparo, or by the representationally similar Neal Adams, and all those who copied his style. Aparo’s art is still what pops into my head first when I think of the Caped Crusader.

Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy with any crossovers or the creative team switcheroo when he and Alan Grant came over to “my” title in 1990. I also, at first, steered clear of Shadow of the Bat when they left the main title to launch it two years later and their Anarky series as well.

Fortunately, I did gain some wisdom with age.

Part of that involved figuring out that there are different comic book writers out there, and I would have a better chance of enjoying the stories if I followed for writers I liked instead of characters.

This led me to spend more time looking at Mr. Breyfogle’s art as I followed Steve Englehart to the 2000 Hellcat mini-series, and J. M. DeMatteis to the ill-fated (possibly ill conceived?) 2001 Spectre series.

There were also plenty of viewings of his take on Bruce Wayne and company once I discovered Alan Grant was one of that group of writers from the British Isles, who cut their teeth on 2000 A.D., and brought all manner of awesomely insane ideas to the comics on our shore.

Comic savvy readers who remember some of my other posts will also notice, writers or no writers, I was following favorite characters, reinforcing that I am still full of crap. (For comic fans playing the home game: Hellcat touched on the Hawkeye and Mockingbird story, Spectre was Hal Jordan at the time…and as for Batman, see above.)

My eye grew a little more trained, and I started to appreciate different artistic approaches. Eventually I came to what can be a nearly impossible realization for many comic fans and a similar number of comics creators:

The superior version of a character may not be the one from when you were five years old.

Norm Breyfogle’s approach is an amazing fit to the dark and twisted world of Gotham City. His stylized versions of it as well as Batman, his allies, and his enemies goes a long way to capture the raw emotions and mental issues bubbling under the surface of the characters and locations. Also, even without Scarecrow’s fear toxin, his exaggerations are likely an indication of how these outlandish individuals at their most theatrical would be perceived by the common man.

I am also awarding him bonus points for his work in the two series listed above as being one of the (un)holy trinity of comic book artists who render the most incredible and mind twisting versions of haunted, chaotic and evil otherworldly realms.

Again, for those playing at home, the other two are Tom Mandrake, and Kelley Jones, both of whom also have come up with some truly terror inspiring visions of the Dark Knight and his rogues gallery. (Coincidently, both have done regular, and vampire involved Bat-stories.)

The strongest way I can render this apology is with my wallet. (Or with more of my wallet if you count all the back issues and compilations of Detective, Shadow of the Bat and Anarky, I’ve hunted down.)

With many more years’ geexperience, my comic purchases have become much more limited and, finally, exclusively author based. However, when I saw he was drawing the new Batman Beyond Digital First series, I ordered the 100,000 Clowns trade without checking who wrote it.

It turns out I do like the writing as well, but that’s merely icing on the cake at this point.

Since the Bruce Wayne in many of the Bat-comics of my most avid collecting years was drawn by Norm Breyfogle, the one training Terry McGinnis now looks like the REAL Batman. This gives me yet another reason to ignore the Nu52 as the Beyond world is obviously the REAL DC Universe Now.

Sorry for my youthful doofishness Norm,

May you always continue to be awesome!

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