With the passing of Norm Breyfogle this week (Sept, 2018), it’s appropriate to remember his best comic book covers. He worked on books like Prime, Anarky, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Bloodshot, Marvel Fanfare, and Superman but it’s his Batman art that we love. There are only a few artists who can compete with the capes that Norm Breyfogle drew. His capes were their own thing, alive with action and drama. We all knew that a regular cape couldn’t perform these amazing, incredible poses but Norm’s cape could, and we loved it. Norm loved adding lines to focus attention and add power to the page, like the image to the right. The pencils, inks and colors became Batman exploding off the page, leaping and punching at the same time.
Take a look at this early cover by Norm for Michigan Technological University. Keep in mind that Norm was in high school when he drew this book. Tech Team #1
Norm’s first Batman cover was in Detective Comics #579 (October 1987). After his run in Detective Comics he went on to Batman Comics so for about five years we were able to enjoy his Batman art. Now on to the top 10 Batman covers by Norm Breyfogle.
Detective Comics #619 (August 1990) – This cover has the least amount of action than any other cover on the list but it’s still a great piece of art. This shows the more cerebral side of the Dark Knight studying some evidence. He is the world’s greatest detective so let’s get all CSI.
Detective Comics #592 (November 1988) – You’re immediately taken by this cover as you see one of our national heroes, Abraham Lincoln, about to knife someone. He is stern faced, grabbing the lady’s hair with the knife ready to strike. Then you notice two hands, two intense eyes and the Batman symbol and you know that she will be ok. Batman’s cape beautifully frames the action between Batman and Abraham Lincoln (Don’t worry it wasn’t actually A.L.) to create a powerful scene.
Batman #450 (July 1990) – This cover is more subtle than most of his other covers but it’s still powerful. Joker has been hurt so his house is broken, torn or bent. Everything around the face and torso is in shadows except for his eyes and teeth. Even with so much hidden you still get the point that Norm is trying to relay, Joker is hurt and mad.
Detective Comics #603 (August 1989) -Batman standing on a building with gargoyles with a full moon behind him…classic. Add in the Demon Etrigan with an equally dynamic pose that looks as if he might leap from the building and you have another great Breyfogle cover.
Batman #457 (December 1990) – In the opening paragraph I mentioned that Norm loved to add lines to focus your attention, this is a vivid example. The first thing you notice is Robin bursting through a window instead of Batman tied upside down covered in spiders. The joys of Scarecrows fear toxin, TIED UPSIDE DOWN COVERED IN SPIDERS…I’d be dead.
Detective Comics #594 (December 1988) – Once again, Norm is masterfully allowing you to know the story in a glance. Some crazed lunatic is trying to blow up the Stock Exchange and he believes that no one can stop him. If only he could see the full picture he would know the truth. This is a gorgeous, almost Spawn-like, billowing cape on the Caped Crusader. When you look at the shadows on Batman you see attentive eyes, the Batman logo, a fist and one leg ready to uncoil.
Detective Comics #586 (May 1988) – The light and shadow play on this cover is just incredible. Notice that the light diffuses around the outside edge. Some elements are clear, like the gun in the holster while other things, the man’s face are hidden. Norm is showing you exactly what he wants you to see. The multitude of eyes in the background, an unknown sewer dweller and Batman badly hurt all add to the drama of this cover.
Batman #474 (February 1992) – This cover is about contrasts between Gotham and Batman. Gotham is dingy and grey, beyond her prime. Once she was a wealthy city with ornate architecture now it looks old and more like Tim Burton’s Gotham. In contrast, Batman is colorful and athletic, fully in his prime.
Detective Comics #590 (September 1988) – Almost everything on this cover is blue, grey and black which is a subdued color palette, yet there is so much life and action. Batman’s cape is low but dramatic with a powerful wind pressing on his back. Ben Big apparently houses several thousand bats in case Batman takes a trip abroad. This is a beautiful haunting cover.
Detective Comics #587 (June 1988) – This is the definitive Norm Breyfogle Batman cover! The cape is this crazy insane beast that is accompanying Batman into the night. The mood is powerful, the night sky is crackling with lightning, rain is pelting the dark alley and then in front of you appears, BATMAN. His face is in shadows, but you can make out the claw like hand and you know that crime doesn’t pay in Gotham.
Thank you, Norm Breyfogle. You gave us some great Batman art that will live on in our bagged and boarded memorials. If you would like to see all comics by Norm, go to this list. All Norm Breyfogle Comics
by Ron Cloer