Before The Ray made me want to make comics. Before Joe Quesada, Greg Capullo, John Romita Jr, Humberto Ramos, Joe Madureira, Michael Turner, Jim Lee, even before Todd McFarlane influenced me, Norm Breyfogle inspired me. His art almost literally saved my life.
I was 12 when I moved from the big city, the city that never sleeps, New York, to the more green, quieter Puerto Rico. It was a rather difficult transition. The one constant was comics. Back in NY, I loved comics, as I've stated before, mostly reading the kiddie stuff, I had a few GI Joes and Batmans from the time the Tim Burton film came out, but I wasn't as hooked to the more teen comics yet.
One day I was at the mall close to mom's house and was walking around the pharmacy, when I saw the magazine stand. I usually got my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Archie Comics fix from there, or the Mexican editions of Tom & Jerry, when I saw Batman #469. The opening page showed a dead Robin and I thought to myself "hey, wasn't he blown up by the Joker a couple years ago?" I had questions, and needed answers. As it turned out, it wasn't Robin. It was a person that a gang dressed as Robin to send a message that his ass was grass. And this Robin was Tim Drake, not that tool Jason Todd. The story featuring the creative team of Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle was actually quite entertaining. I liked it for what it was and really dug the design of this third Robin. And after not giving it much thought, a month went by, and THE issue came out. Issue 470.
There are times in your life, that transcends things. Moments when you feel like nothing is ever going to be the same again. Having your first kiss. Your first heartbreak. Losing a loved one. Finding the ONE. The first time you learn how to shave on your own. Your first car. Batman #470 was my first issue with Norm Breyfogle art. And I was blown away.
The energy flowing from the pages was almost kinetic. It was dynamic. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. At that point I used to draw only on and off again, more like a silly thing to do to pass the time or distract myself from studying for tests. After that issue, it was 24/7. I was drawing like a kid possessed. I even picked up painting. I would draw Batman everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Not just any Batman, Norm Breyfogle's Batman.
And to make things even better, when he eventually left Life with Archie, the "what if?" tale that shows alternate stories of what would happen if he chose Betty or Veronica, he would land at DC again and in a Batbook, Batman Beyond! That was like coming home to me, Norm Breyfogle on a Batman book, where my selfish mind said "where he belongs".
In the meantime, I am not alone in wishing Norm Brefogle a speedy, complete recovery, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you have done for not just the industry, not just to aspiring artists around the world, but thank you for saving my life and in many ways paving my path.
-Alvaro Cortes Jr