ED. NOTE: For the holidays, Comic Riffs has decided to count down the comics-world elements and developments for which we’re most grateful. Because that lengthy list could carry us clear till the years-away debut of the next Spider-Man film — if not at least till the #SonyHack of the next Spider-Man film script — we’ve also decided to cull our list to “The 12 Days of Gratitude.” So consider this akin to the “12 Days of Christmas” song (though we vow in advance not to resort to “10 Star-Lords a-leaping” or “7 Curt Swans a-swimming,” lest we then stoop to “3 Renee French Hens”). So without further ado or to-do…
–M.C.

THE 12 DAYS OF GRATITUDE:

#6. From fans and colleagues, the gift of generosity buoys comics, animated films — and ailing artists.

THIS TIME of year, it is fitting to remember the generosity among, and toward, cartoonists that marks the comics community throughout the year.

Notable and worthy funding campaigns in 2014 included those by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; those from a Kickstarter-supported film that animates Vincent Van Gogh’s own canvasses to the Bat-Kid “make-a-wish” documentary (which recently was accepted into the Slamdance film festival); from nostalgic comics-convention books to illustrated children’s books; from the Indiegogo-buoyed animation “Simon’s Cat in ‘Off to the Vet'” to a teenager looking to draw her way to Washington for her cross-country class trip.

And amid those campaigns sometimes comes a grass-roots effort to support a specific cartoonist (or cartoonist’s partner) who has fallen ill or suffered tragedy. Colleagues and fans give what they can. And a new campaign this holiday time is for artist Norm Breyfogle — so famed, to many, for his work on Batman — who recently suffered a stroke.

In the spirit of the season, Comic Riffs contributor David Betancourt writes about the effort to help the ailing Breyfogle, as well as what the artist’s work means to many fans:


Art by Norm Breyfogle. (courtesy of DC Comics)

NORM BREYFOGLE, known by many comic-book fans for his stellar late ’80s and early ’90s artwork on Detective Comics and Batman, suffered a stroke earlier this month. Breyfogle’s family has set up a fundraiser at YouCaring.com, with a goal of raising $200,000 for what they say could be a long road to recovery for the artist.

Art by Norm Breyfogle. (courtesy of DC Comics) Art by Norm Breyfogle. (courtesy of DC Comics)

According to Breyfogle’s page on the fundraising website, he has no health insurance and is worried that he might not be able to draw again without therapy. Breyfogle, who is left-handed, suffered paralysis on his left side.

Fans of the Dynamic Duo are no doubt familiar with the work of Breyfogle, who in 1990 pencilled the legendary three-issue story-line by Alan Grant (Batman #455-457), which ended with Tim Drake becoming the Robin the Boy Wonder.

In the story, Drake realized Batman was walking into a trap set by the Scarecrow. Drake had been begging Batman to let him become the next Robin after figuring out Batman’s secret identity, but Batman refused, as he was dealing with the after-effects of the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd, at the hands of the Joker. After Drake rescues the Dark Knight, Batman asks Drake why he didn’t put on the Robin suit and mask. Drake says he didn’t want to disgrace the legacy of the mantle. Batman agrees that the old costume carries a lot of emotional weight and rewards Drake with a new Robin suit.

It was a moment for which fans waited a long time. And on the last page of Batman #457, Breyfogle treated fans to their first look at the new Robin, with an at-the-time extremely modernized version of the Boy Wonder. The “R” on Robin’s left chestplate was larger and pointed. No more exposed legs and there was a double colored cape, black on the outside, yellow on the inside. Breyfogle’s cover to Batman #465  is one of the classic images of the Bruce Wayne/Tim Drake Dynamic Duo.

Breyfogle’s family is asking the artists’ fans who have been touched by his decades of work to make any type of donation they can. For fans who don’t have PayPal or a credit card, the family has listed a mailing address for checks. Family and fellow cartoonists have been spreading the word via social media and have also been encouraging Breyfogle’s frequent employer, DC Comics, to match donations.