This interview was conducted May 17, 1989 in Toronto at James Waleyís first monthly supershow. Being one month short of the Batman movie, Waley had invited as his guests two Batman artists Ė one who is currently active on a Batman title, Norm Breyfogle, and one who is considered a classic interpreter of the character, Marshall Rogers. The show was a big success and the atmosphere was electric as fans counted the days to the opening of the movie.
Special thanks have to go to James Waley for allowing free access to Norm Breyfogle. And also to Jim Burke (aka T.M. Maple for his invaluable assistance and patience.
AMAZING HEROES: You live in California. Your shirt gives that away.
NORM BREYFOGLE: I just bought a new pair of sunglasses. [he takes out a flashy, visor-type pair of orange-tinted glasses and puts them on.] Theyíre expensive, but when got home and saw how bright the lenses were I thought, ĎGod, look how bright they are. Theyíre not ďgrittyĒ enough for me. Iíve gotta get some darker lenses and slip them on over these. Everyone in California is wearing them now.
AH: Where are you originally from?
BREYFOGLE: I was born in Iowa. Americaís Heartland. Deep in my heart Ė maybe not that deep Ė Iím a patriot. I love this country. Or should I say my country since Iím in Canada now. [laughs.] I grew up in Illinois. I only lived in Iowa until I was about three, when my mom got divorced. I still have a taste for the plains. Even now, when Iím out driving, I think how much I miss those big storm clouds. I lived there until I went to Northern Michigan University. Four years of that. Didnít get my degree, was one class short. I suppose Iíll never finish it now because my career is just fine. Then we moved to California when I was 22. So itís been seven years already.
AH: You moved there with your mother?
BREYFOGLE: Yeah. And my brother. I almost stayed in Michigan but I had a broken foot at the time due to a rowdy little accident.
AH: We wonít get into that.
BREYFOGLE: I wouldnít mind getting into it. [laughs.] I was planning to come back to Michigan later but I decided to stay in California since there were a lot of other job opportunities out there. I was able to utilize some of my drawing ability because there were always drafting and technical illustration jobs around. Like at power plants or air force bases. It was only temporary, I thought, since I was sending out drawing samples to the comics companies. Piling up rejection slips, but I knew it was just a matter of time before Iíd get published.
AH: Did you send out things when you were at University?
AH: What were you taking at university anyway?
BREYFOGLE: I was an art major. Originally a painting major. Iím glad that was my major even though I felt at a technical disability at first Ė a lack of understanding reproduction and printing techniques Ė because in the end it helped me learn a lot about color and how to utilize it. After two years of that I switched over to the Illustration course which helped me with the graphics/technical side. I was going for my degree, but I finished one class short.
AH: Tell us more about what you were doing in California while you were piling up rejection slips.
BREYFOGLE: I was a draftsman at a power plant. It paid the bills. It wasnít fired up at the time. I wasnít running a radiation risk. This was before Diablo Canyon started. They were having all kinds of problems with the nuclear regulatory people and other protest groups because theyíd built the plant too close to the San Andreas Fault. I used to go into rooms and see so many conduits and pipes which were being installed as back-up systems in case of an earthquake. They were puttingf so many conduits in these rooms that youíd walk into one of them and just see solid pipe. Youíd have to wriggle and crawl and climb over things in order to get into spots where youíd have to make a drawing. It was fun. I got to do lots of chin ups on the pipes. And there were times when I was out in the field away from the drawing board. Got to walk around. I miss all that. But it was still too technical for me. It doesnít compare to free-hand drawing.
AH: So during this time you kept sending stuff out to publishers Ė comics and otherwise. I guess you didnít care who picked you up as long as somebody did.
BREYFOGLE: I was never involved in any fan press and I didnít have any connections or any friends in comics. I just went into a comic shop and got the names of some publishers. I could only come up with seven or eight names. I didnít know how many other publishers existed. I put together hundreds of packages of photocopies of my work to mail out. But then I soon had Mike Friedrich representing me and I didnít need all those packages. Iíve still got all of them lying around somewhere.
AH: And what was the first work you were getting?
BREYFOGLE: Bob Violence, for First Comics. But I should mention that wasnít actually the first thing I ever had published. When I was in high school in Michigan, for the local college MTU Ė Michigan Technical University Ė I co-plotted, wrote and drew a comic about a super-hero team Ė they were called Tech Team Ė which promoted the university. They printed up 10,000 copies of it. So, thatís really the first comic I ever did. And there was also the work I did for DCís New Talent Showcase in í84 and í85.
AH: Is that how Mike Friedrich came to see your work?
BREYFOGLE: It might have been, I donít know. Mike saw my work hanging at one of the San Diego cons. But around this time I was getting desperate to break into the business. Although I was younger than I actually realized, I was ready to throw in the towel. I had made some connections but I was thinking that there must be more politics involved here. I thought my work was good enough, but I wasnít getting any job offers. I considered just staying as a technical illustrator the rest of my life.
AH: I think youíve hit on a good point Ė thereís no doubt that a lot of comic artists go through that, wondering about the political factors in getting their work into the right hands.
BREYFOGLE: Mike, and others Iíve come to know since then, have told me that one of the reasons I finally started to get work was because of my persistence and my desire to keep doing comics even with my full-time job elsewhere. It indicated to them a drive to get into comics. And thatís just as important as talent. Talent is necessary, but thereís a lot of talent out there that wonít get published because they donít have that drive.
AH: You need that drive because youíre in the periodical business and youíve got to meet those deadlines. The artist has to sit down and churn it out on a regular basis.
BREYFOGLE: And looking back now I see that it wasnít ďpoliticalĒ factors Ė or things that I called political then Ė that prevented me from getting work. Although thatís not to say that these factors donít exist. I just donít see them that much anymore because my agent, Mike, handles those things for me. But yeah, if I had been more of a sociable guy Ė going to more conventions and meeting people in the business Ė and showing my determination on a face-to-face level, I probably would have got work sooner. I suppose you could call that ďpoliticalĒ in a way. But doing good work isnít always enough. Especially with the Big Two. They want to see that drive. Getting your work published, no matter how slight it seems, helps. I was doing Bob Violence Ė eight pages of it regularly Ė while I was still a technical illustrator. Then they put me onto Whisper. Iíd never worked on anything as ďcartoonyĒ as Bob Violence. Iíve read about how Neal Adams had an early interest in cartoony art, exaggerated-style art, rather than the realistic stuff Ė which really surprised me when I read it Ė so I didnít think doing Bob Violence would affect my realism. I really got into doing that strip. It made me realize the great potential in exaggeration. Iíd like to do that strip again and put into it all the things Iíve learned about exaggeration since then.
Anyway, after that I went onto Whisper, which was a very realistic strip Ė even more realistic than Batman. It was just the opposite of Bob Violence. And after I got Batman, I found that it was the perfect blending of the two art styles. Extreme exaggeration mixed with gritty realism. It was interesting. I wonder where Iím going after this, artistically.
AH: It was while you were on Whisper that I first came across your work. Especially those striking covers that you did. Actually, to be brutally frank, I remember thinking about Whisper that the covers were great, worth the price of the book alone Ė but I wasnít crazy about the artist on the inside.
AH: Then, of course, I realized you were the guy on the inside. But yeah, I found myself buying those Whispers because of the lovely covers.
BREYFOGLE: And did the inside art start to catch up with you after a while?
AH: A little bit.
BREYFOGLE: Was it better when I started inking it?
AH: Yeah. I did notice the difference. Anyway, about those coversÖ
BREYFOGLE: Why havenít I done more since then?
AH: Well, first tell me how those covers came about. You were a young, new artist. Itís not something that is usuallyÖ
BREYFOGLE: I had to make some very expensive color separations and send them to First before they were sure I could do full-painted covers. And I wasnít getting paid very much for those covers. Less, in fact, that Iím getting for a line-drawing cover now. But I was willing to do it cheaply just because I wanted to see my painted work in print. There would be a future gain for me because people would see my painted work and I could get to do more of it if need be. Unfortunately most comic companies donít use painted covers anymore Ė too laborious and they risk deadlines.
AH: But that didnít stop a company like Gold Key when you need them, eh?
BREYFOGLE: I used to love those Turok covers. They were nice.
AH: Ah, but DC is giving you those painted inserts in a couple of upcoming DetectivesÖ
BREYFOGLE: Iíd love to just be a cover artist if I could. But if I ever did that I know that Iíd lose my sense of layout and pacing. This has happened to me before whenever Iíve left the board for awhile and gone on vacation. Doing interior comics work is tough work. You canít lose your edge. I had to use a lot of reference material at first. I hadnít been drawing consistently enough to have a set of images in my head that I could just free-hand onto the paper. Now I can draw guns and cars easily because I have a visual vocabulary. I didnít have that when I was drawing Whisper. The painted covers were easier for me to do than the interiors, even though I didnít have much time to do them. The funny thing is that now Iím doing Batman, and getting paid much more and getting seen by a larger audience, I find the work very easy to do. Itís curious. The writers on Detective donít concentrate on technical details, anyway. They want mood and they leave that up to me. That makes it more fun for me Ė and less time-consuming.
AH: Did Whisper test your drive to succeed in comics? Did your drive sustain you through these times?
BREYFOGLE: It almost failed me. It was very difficult. But, like I said, I had been trying for so long Ė I had all my eggs in one basket. I didnít want to go into fine art. Thereís even more politics there. All my time and energy had gone into comics. I couldnít drop it. Then there was a light at the end of the tunnel. And things have been getting better all the time. Thereís so much biological change involved when you get into this field. A whole lifestyle change. You have to adjust to being alone for so much time and adjust to the inactivity, the physical inactivity. You have to adjust your schedule around the work, and set your own time, and discipline yourself to sit down and get to work.
AH: Before we get into the further progression of your career into Detective, letís backtrack a bit. Tell us about your early artistic influencesÖ favorite comics creators. Iím particularly interested in finding out about your influences for your layout and pacing.
BREYFOGLE: My pacing? Well, thatís entirely my own. Really. But let me start at the beginning. I remember liking Superman and Batman as a very young child. I loved the Batman TV show. I was only six years old when it came out. The artwork on most comics wasnít phenomenal back then. It wasnít until a few years later Ė which seemed like ages to me Ė that Neal Adams started doing Batman. Then I really got fired up about comics art and I thought, ďBoy. This is what I wanna do!Ē I was fascinated over the total control an artist had. And how he could also be a writer of his own material. Itís not like advertising art or fine art. The literary side of it appealed to me. The human elements in the stories. Adams was a big influence, but even then I had an abhorrence to copying anyoneís style. I only copied one cover by Adams. That was it. And a picture of the Blue Boy painting that was hanging in my grade school room. I just knew instinctively that if I kept following such a course it would channel me and make me less spontaneous and hurt my individuality.
Other influences would have to be Marshall Rogers, Berni Wrightson, in terms of his mood. Frank Frazetta is a big influence Ė probably bigger than anyone else. Because I love working in full color, I would be pleased to just do painted covers for paperback novels someday. And never do comics again. And itís not because of the pay, but mostly because itís full-color work thatís connected to a literary work. Itís purely representational work; thereís no abstraction. Although I do like abstract expressionist painters. Uh letís see, who else? Well, thereís Joe Kubert and Nick Cardy.
AH: Two of my favourites.
BREYFOGLE: And Murphy Anderson. Especially the Curt Swan/Anderson team. On Superman, when they were revamping him. I thought their work stood out.
AH: You hadnít seen Andersonís earlier Hawkman work?
BREYFOGLE: No. And later, when I saw it, I didnít like him as much as when he was with Swan.
AH: Correct me if you think otherwise, but my opinion about your style and pacing is that itís work that can be compared to the Golden Age of the medium when layouts and styles were very primal. Primal in their simplicity Ė simple but very powerful images.
BREYFOGLE: I think the connection between my work and any work back then is one made by correlation rather than casual factors. Because I never saw Golden Age comicsÖ
BREYFOGLE:Ö when I was first drawing. And even if I had Iím sure I wouldnít have liked them. They would have turned me off comics. The technical mastery of the medium wasnít great back then Ė although it was new, and, as you put it, primal storytelling. But the finishing on the art wasnít there.
[The interview stops at this point as loud fire engines, sirens blazing, pass by the hotel window on the downtown streets below.]
BREYFOGLE: How come Batman doesnít have a siren on the Batmobile? Anyway, I think the correlation thatís there is that the Golden Age guys were doing work that was fresh and new Ė they werenít copying anybody! They were making a new medium. And the way I approach my own work Ė or at least I try to Ė is by pure instinct. Primal is a perfect word for it. I just tell a story as economically as possible. I love Japanese watercolor techniques. Just a few brush strokes to symbolise so much.
AH: What Iím alluding to Ė and this is why I compare you to a Golden Age artist Ė is that your pacing and storytelling is ďtoldĒ in a non-traditional ďKirby-ishĒ 6-panel-boxes-a-page format. And yet youíre not really as unorthodox with your layouts as an Adams. Youíre not as simple as a Kirby yet not as wild as an Adams.
BREYFOGLE: But I wouldnít be against an Adams approach if the story called for it.
AH: Yeah sure. I just find that you can achieve an Adams effect more compactly than he can. Yet you also achieve a Kirby simplicity with your unimbellished pencils. And, to me, thatís what a Golden Age comics artist tried to achieve.
BREYFOGLE: I find that comics artists today donít really grasp the extreme importance of how every little line affects the sense of quality. And if you make every panel the same size it just looks like a series of snapshots that you might see in a slide show orÖ
AH: Not very ďfilmicĒ, anyway.
BREYFOGLE: Right. Itís almost like a scrapbook. And comics shouldnít be like that. There are certain timing effects that have come to be used regularly that bother me. Like the one with nine or ten panels on a page showing quick cuts of a figure or hand in motion. Itís supposed to represent time moving in fractions of a second, but that effect is overdone. Itís a gimmick. It makes me cringe. It can be counter-productive if relied upon. Itís inefficient. On the other hand I donít like it when one panel is used when a whole series is called for. A comics artist has to be primal. If itís not primal then your work will be too mannered, too copied. If you donít feel it from your gut then no-one else will either. You canít fake that. And even the fans Ė people who donít draw Ė can sense that. Thatís why I think children can often ďsenseĒ a better artist than we adults can Ė because they havenít been jaded yet, programmed yet, to respond to styles that are against their instincts.
AH: Getting back to Whisper Ė you werenít inking your pencils at first. Was it hard to get that assignment?
BREYFOGLE: Itís funny because when I did some work for Eclipse they said they didnít like my pencilling but they liked my inking. And yet with First it was the other way around. I thought both my pencilling and inking were equally developed.
AH: The point Iím making is that here you are pencilling Whisper and inking it Ė as well as doing your own fully-painted covers. And thatís rare to see a new artist afforded that kind of privilege.
BREYFOGLE: I can only surmise that it was because I was pushing to do all those aspects, and so was Mike Friedrich. Iíd shown in my portfolio a proficiency in all those areas. But Iím not sure I couldíve handled it all at once, timewise.
AH: But weíre only talking about a few months that went by for you Ė it takes years for some guys to getÖ
BREYFOGLE: I started on issue #3 and it wasnít until #7 I was doing everything. It was a bi-monthly book, too. So weíre talking eight months before I was doing the inking. Then it was #7 that had my first cover. Hmmpf. I donít know. I just donít have anything to compare it to. Youíre telling me that this was an unusual treatmentÖ
AH: It is. It is. Now, how did Detective come about?
BREYFOGLE: I told Mike I wanted a better wage Ė which means working for a bigger company. I told Mike that I wanted to draw Batman Ė all along, from the beginning. Iíve always loved the character Ė especially his cape.
AH: Did they test you first in a fill-in story?
BREYFOGLE: Yeah. The Penguin story I did for a Batman annual. They liked it. Then they asked me to do a complete story for Detective. A trial issue. Mike said it was a formality because they knew they could use me after the Batman annual story. They signed me up for Detective and then I went on vacation. So it wasnít for a few months that my work appeared regularly.
AH: Before you started on Detective it looked like DC was having problems getting a new regular team for that book.
BREYFOGLE: Thatís curious to me. I donít understand why thatís the case with a book like that unless itís because artists confuses status with quality. They think that if they follow a fan favourite like a Frank Miller or somebody that the quality of their work wonít be seen. I think itís because they lack confidence in their work. They think their work will look too run-of-the-mill. Although I donít think any artist is a run-of-the-mill artist. Itís not easy to draw free-hand in this field. Sure, thereís going to be artists who are the best and the worst and the middle-of-the-road. Thereís a lot of shit. But comics arenít any different than any other medium. A lot of it is shitÖ
AH: Or at least itís ďhackĒ work. Itís work that lacks innovation. Itís uninspired.
BREYFOGLE: Right. But why donít they see it and correct it sooner? DC knew I was willing to do it. They had a bunch of different artists on it who I didnít think were as good as me. I asked Mike about this and he said DC couldnít get artists that were willing to work on Detective. Mike said they wanted some ďname recognitionĒ and that I wouldnít have that as a ďbeginnerĒ. He said that many good artists had turned them down because they feared their work would be playing second fiddle or overshadowed by the work that had been done before on the character. By Miller and others. But Iíve never felt that way about anything Iíve done. I didnít care who else had done it before me. If Iím going to do anything Iím going to do it to the best of my ability and trust that quality will win out.
AH: I think it has.
BREYFOGLE: Itís just a matter of time anyway, before people forget about the work thatís done previously on a book and they start to give your work a fresh look.
AH: You show a great flair for drawing Batman. Where did that psychic affinity for the character come from?
BREYFOGLE: Well, thatís a complex question. I think weíd have to go back to that primal instinct again. An artist can get to draw any character good in time, after you learn the intricacies of drawing the costume and the world the character inhabits. And the personality of the character, too. As well as getting accustomed to the writer and his work. All of that is a period of adjustment. When that period is over youíve just got to go with your gut perceptions of the character.
AH: You said earlier that youíve always wanted to draw Batman. So I think itís safe to say that thereís more to it than just wanting to draw his cape.
BREYFOGLE: Well sure. I love the character. I love his environment. I enjoy the stories Iím working on, from the writers. Iím fascinated by the way Batman reacted to the trauma in his life. I think Iím pretty liberal in my views on life and that an individual, when faced by a similar trauma, could not really be blamed for making a ďmistakeĒ and turning into a criminal. But I think Batman shows that an early childhood trauma doesnít have to make you into an evil person. That thereís always an element of freedom of choice at these times and that if youíre strong enough then you can use bad occurrences in your life to good ends. Thatís the essence of Batman. I donít see Batman only as Robin Hood or Rambo Ė using superior force to help the poor or the weak. Of course, thereís always that high moral element to the character. I think the essence of the character isÖ well, the way Miller put it, ďForcing the world to have meaning.Ē Forcing reality to live up to the ideals rather than to the ground level of reality. Batman tries to strike the middle ground between conservative philosophy and liberal. He tries to find that balance between the two. I hope the movie tries to show that Ė the moral side of him Ė but I fear theyíll concentrate on the Rambo side.
AH: So youíve always loved the look of Batman since childhood and as you got older you saw the philosophical side to him and the contradictions that make the character.
BREYFOGLE: Philosophy is the science of contradiction. Itís the study of meaning itself. At Batmanís best heís an attempt to unite conservative and liberal, and concrete and abstract, all the essential conflicts there. The polarity. Yin/yang, however you want to put it. The essence of life is all there. Batman can be a very existential character. He climbs up and down the mountains and valleys of life, seeking his ideals but never forgetting that thereís an effort to his journey Ė that these mountains and valleys are always going to be there and all his ideals arenít going to change that.
AH: No, no. Thatís fine. Actually this would be a good time to get into your personal philosophy about comics, especially in relation to your teen years when, you told us earlier, you never thought comics could contain the philosophical and moral foundation youíre now discussing.
BREYFOGLE: My ďborn-againĒ years. Well, it was at a time when, like anyone else, I could feel the pressures of approaching adulthood Ė you know itís coming and thereís nothing you can do to stop it. I had moved away from all my friends in Illinois, then gone to Michigan. I found that my renewed faith in Christianity gave me strength through all these changes. It was a positive experience for me, not negative. I believe now, as I did then, that being honest with yourself is a prerequisite to being honest and good in the world. In the end it was that honesty with myself that drew me away from fundamentalism and allowed me to explore Eastern religions and psychology. And later, when I came back to look at it again, I must admit that I was derisive to born-agains and sarcastic to them because I didnít think they were being honest with themselves. And now I myself looking into Christian symbolically Ė not the way that the culture views it Ė and I find a lot of meaning in it, and I still do. But I wouldnít call myself ďborn againĒ now, thatís for sure.
AH: So during this period you dropped comics, right?
AH: Were they seen as being evil? The work of the devil?
BREYFOGLE: Yes. For a while I was such a fanatic about my fundamentalism that I felt I was wasting my money on comics. And for about four years, when I questioned getting comics, I still kept drawing and painting. In fact, all my paintings at this time were religious in nature. All of them. Iíd still look at some comics and try to see their worth, but eventually I dropped them altogether. They were the work of the devil. I havenít thought about this in so long Ė itís hard to remember the chronology. I knew comics were presenting good ideals, butÖ I remember drawing Batman at this time Ė as a born again Christian! That helped me resolve my love for comics with my religious ideas. I thought to myself, ďWell, what do we really know about Bruce Wayne? Why couldnít he be born again?Ē
AH: So was it a surreptitious act for you to read comics?
BREYFOGLE: No, not really. Actually I never totally stopped reading them. I debated it within myself and if I stopped buying them completely it was only for a month or so. Dredging up all these memories makes me think of a strong early memory I have of my father. As I said, I only knew him briefly, but I remember him drawing a picture of Superman for me when I was about two or three. I wonder if that presaged my decision to do comics later. Itís a very strong memory.
AH: Do you remember specific comics that you felt were too evil to look at? Undergrounds, for instance.
BREYFOGLE: No. I was in a small town and we didnít have them. I remember magazines like Eeerie and Car-Toons. But I never bought those anyway because they were too expensive.
AH: I guess itís easy to be born again in a small town eh? The temptations arenít there. A lot of the decisions are made for you because of Ė poor distribution.
BREYFOGLE: Yeah. Iím just trying to remember just how much temptation there was [laughter]
My mother raised me and she let me go my own way. She never tried to influence me too much. She only regulated my behaviour. She didnít make me go to church or force any religious beliefs on me. I was ďBorn AgainĒ out of choice, out of fear.
AH: Have you met Denny OíNeil? Or Wagner and Grant?
BREYFOGLE: No. None of them. Iím looking forward to meeting Denny at the Chicagocon this year.
AH: But what about script problems? If you interpret something differently than they originally intended, where do you go?
BREYFOGLE: I go through New York. I talk to Denny or his assistant, Dan Raspler. Iíve gotten to know him pretty well. I never suggest huge changes anyway.
AH: In all this time youíve never had problems with the scripts where you felt you had to talk directly to the writers?
AH: Thatís remarkable. You mentioned earlier, before taping, that you felt the stories in Detective should emphasize his detective skills more.
BREYFOGLE: Yeah, but youíre limited by the format of the book. How can you write a new Sherlock Holmes type of story every issue? Youíve got to have some action. But itís still an open area for a writer to explore and I wish I could write better so that I could it explore it myself. But even a good writer would have difficulties doing those type of stories. Youíve got to have some knowledge in writing mysteries and I donít have that.
AH: Have you read [Wagner & Grantís] Judge Dredd stories?
BREYFOGLE: Yeah. I got a big kick out of them. But I find Dredd to be two-dimensional after a while. Whatís his personal life? But I liked their stories. Very grim. Very imaginative. I donít know why DC didnít hype them more when they first got Detective. If DC had done that Iím sure it would have helped sales a lot, right from the beginning. I donít understand it.
AH: So now itís just the solo scripts by one of them youíre doing? Solo Grant or solo Wagner?
BREYFOGLE: Solo Wagner. Uh, I think so. Or is it solo Grant? Iím not sure. Like I say, Iíve never met them. [laughter] But they also worked so smoothly as a team anyway Ė I never noticed a real change in the flow of the stories.
AH: What about the Batmobile? Youíve designed so many different onesÖ
BREYFOGLE: Actually Iíd like to keep designing a new Batmobile every issue. But Denny told me Ė through Dan Ė that Iíve got to settle on one design. They didnít want so many designs running around. Actually they plan on doing a Secret Origins issue where weíll get into the the background of the Batmobile and I might get the art chores on that. But my reasoning on having so many designs was that Batman, being a rough and tumble type of guy, would trash a lot of his cars. I try to drive carefully but even Iíve trashed cars. [laughs] Well, I trashed one car. So Batmanís gotta trash a lot of cars! And heís a rich man so he can replace them. Heíd probably have different cars for different occasions. I think the Batmobile in the movie looks great. Itís got the right mixture of all the elements of Batmanís character over the years. Itís not ultra-modern Ė and it shouldnít be because then youíd be forgetting Batmanís gothic Ď40s past. Since Iím doing Batmanís current adventures in Detective I like to design an ultra-modern look Ė but in the movie they had to incorporate a lot of elements into one design. And I think it works. It looks really neat.
AH: Of course the Joker is in the movie. You havenít drawn him yet for Detective. Is there a Joker story for you in the future?
BREYFOGLE: Yeah. Iíve already done one in an upcoming issue. Heís not a main character in the story, but I got to do some good shots of him. I wish I could draw Robin. Iím disappointed that they killed him off. Itís a chellenge to try to give a teenage kid a heroic aura Ė especially when heís wearing those little undies. I only got to draw him twice. I wouldíve liked to have drawn Robin all along. I think I could have given him a distinctive look. When I was a kid I never really identified with Robin. I still liked him, but he was just the ďsidekickĒ. And when Robin went to college I was pleased because now I could see Batman alone. But now that heís gone I miss the opportunity to draw him. I like his costume.
AH: Boy, a lot of people would disagree on that statement, Norm.
BREYFOGLE: I think that anybody ďin the knowĒ would admit that Robinís costume Ė for a boy Ė is an excellent super-hero costume. It may not be practical, but I think itís very well designed. Itís definitely not a costume for a man Ė but for a kid itís great!
AH: Are you sad that now Ė during the 50th anniversary of Batman Ė you havenít had a chance to draw the team that existed all those years?
BREYFOGLE: Robin doesnít make Batman more complete than he already is. Batman without Robin doesnít lessen the character. Robin doesnít make Batman greater either. Robin just makes him different. But seeing them together too much gets grating. Having him in college was ideal, then you could have him appearing with Batman every now and then. Sometimes youíve got to have him interacting with someone else. I guess thereís always Alfred, but heís not out there in the field with Batman. But I suppose good writing transcends those problems anyway.
AH: Looks to me like youíll never be happy if you leave the comic biz without ever writing a Batman story of your own.
BREYFOGLE: I wouldnít say that. Maybe Iíll never be happy if I die without writing one. [laughter] I would love to write a Batman story Ė but right now Iíd have to get so far ahead of myself that I would have the time to do one properly. And Iím not a workaholic. I enjoy my R&R. Very much. Somer artists get antsy if they take too much vacation time. They want to get back drawing. Iím not like that. When Iím away from the board for a long time I want to stay away!
AH: So whatís it like to be drawing Batman in the midst of this new 1989 version of Batmania?
BREYFOGLE: Well, I know that if I was doing work at DC, but some other series, Iíd feel really left out. Itís his 50th anniversary after all, and his next big anniversary wonít come around for another 50 years. Iíll be too old to care about it then. At least too old to draw. Iím glad Iím working on the series.