In honor of Batman Day 2019 here's a commission I did of the Caped Crusader a few years back. Pencil and ink on 11" x 17" Bristol board. What do ya'll think of it?
Now, since it's Batman Day I'd like to tell ya'll a story about my favorite Batman artist of all time. What's your favorite Batman artist? Mine was, and always will be Norm Breyfogle; one of the most talented and nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of interacting with.
A few years ago I was a new dad, struggling to make ends meet and trying to provide for my family as any responsible man should. One day I found Norm Breyfogle on Facebook and of course I thought it wasn't really him, but as I saw his interactions with other high profile creators and his art updates I realized that yes; this was really him. It was a bit mind blowing to me that I could actually write and interact with my favorite Batman artist ever. But I was hesitant, what if one of my artistic idols ended up being an absolute jerk? It would've ruined the way I saw his art and how I felt about him. I thought about this but wrote to him anyway.
Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Good evening sir, my name is Manuel Carmona and I've been a fan of your work since I first discovered comics back in 1992. I've never seen you at any convention and was wondering if it'd be possible for me to send you a comicbook from my collection for you to sign and send it back to me.
Norm: Hi Manuel. I can do that for you but you'd have to send a pre-stamped envelop so I can ship it back to you.
Me: Absolutely! Thank you so much! I'll send that ASAP!
A few days passed and I wrote to him again, this time about something else entirely.
Me: Good evening Mr. Breyfogle. I hope you received my comics (I sent two so i can give one to good friend of mine), I wanted to talk to you about something else though, I was wondering how much would you charge me to draw a Batman sketch for me. I'd love to have something original from you for my son; I want him to know your work first hand and why I love it so much.
Norm: I'm currently under contract with DC Comics and I'm unable to outside work other than theirs. Sorry.
Me: That's ok, I don't think I could've afforded one of your pieces anyway; just thought I'd ask. Have a good night.
Norm: You do the same.
A few days passed and I finally got a package from Norm. In it, both comics signed by the man himself; each bagged and boarded. I was ecstatic. My wife smiled as I grinned from ear to ear but as I turned away from her she stops me and says that there's something drawn on the back of the board. I turn the bag around and low and behold; there was an original Norm Breyfogle Batman sketch in one of the boards! I didn't know what to do. My initial thought was: "Oh my God, Norm put one of his sketches in one of my bags and didn't noticed!". My wife asked me what I was gonna do and I was saddened in a way, I was saddened that I knew I had to tell him he'd sent me one of his sketches to me by accident knowing that I could never afford it and would never see one of his pieces up close like that. Regardless I knew I had to tell him so I sat down in front of the computer and wrote to him.
Me: Sir, I'm writing to let you know I got the comics in the mail but I also wanted to let you know you sent me one of your sketches by accident. As much as it pains me to do it I'll send it back first thing tomorrow, at least I got to see one of your sketches up close. Thanks again for the comics though.
Norm: That wasn't a mistake. I sent that sketch for you and your son. Thank you for letting me know when you thought I sent it by accident, that shows honesty and character, I'm glad I sent you that piece.
I sit there... looking at the screen, tears welling up inside my eyes; my favorite Batman artist ever drew a Batman sketch for me and my son completely free. I cried tears of joy that night, I won't lie; one of my artistic idols showed me what being a class act is all about.
Me: I don't know what to say. Thank you!
Norm: I hope you both keep it and enjoy it for years to come and don't end up selling it. Jeje
Me: Trust me, we wont!
These are the comicbook he signed and the sketch he drew for us. Two of my most prized possessions!
Sometime after that Norm became ill and lost use of his left hand which was Norm's drawing hand, so you can imagine how devastating that must've been for such a talented artist to not be able to draw. We interacted on a semi regular basis, I sent him words of encouragement, encouraging videos though private messages; anything I could do to cheer him up. He struggled with depression for a few years and eventually passed away. When I found out Norm had passed I felt a tremendous sadness, not only because the world of comics had lost one of the greatest to ever doit, but because the World lost one of the nicest guys I ever met. Norm was a genuine class act and on a day like today, Batman Day; I think of nobody better qualified to have drawn the Caped Crusader than him. Rest in Peace my friend, you're still alive though your work and through your fans. -MC