In a whirlwind of updates over the past few days — including a video from his Michigan nursing home — we learned veteran Batman artist Norm Breyfogle is making headway following his Dec. 17 stroke.
“This is just another little video for me to express my thanks to all you out there who have provided such great moral and financial support,” he says in a message recorded by BJ Litsenberger. “I want to show you I can move my afflicted side. I can even stand. Check this out!”
That video arrives amid a New York Times story about crowdfunding medical expenses that highlights Breyfogle’s situation, and a Paste magazine profile of the 54-year-old artist.
Famed for his stints on Batman and Detective Comics in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Breyfogle was hospitalized in mid-December after suffering a stroke that paralyzed his left side, including his drawing hand. According to the online fundraising campaign launched by his brother Kevin Breyfogle and sister-in-law Wendy Wiegert, he has no health insurance and a savings eaten away by his hospital stay, yet requires months of care and physical therapy at a nursing home. (The artist tells Paste had hadn’t signed up for Obamacare at the time of his stroke, explaining, “I just never got around to it. I was on the hamster wheel of meeting deadlines. I was in denial.”)
That campaign has raised nearly $90,000 of its $200,000 goal. In addition, there have been other efforts, including writer Adam Beechen’s auction of original art signed by Breyfogle, with brought in more than $1,000, and outreach from The Hero Initiative. DC Comics also rushed solicitation of the hardcover collection Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle.
The artist, who faces at least six months of therapy, is determined to learn to draw with his right hand and to expand into creative writing with the help of voice-transcription software. “It’s too bad that it appears my comics career has been cut off for at least a while — maybe for good. But my creativity hasn’t,” Breyfogle told Paste. “I made a career out of drawing company-owned characters written by other people. I always thought that I had a writer inside me. Now I’m being forced to take a chance on something nearer to my heart.”
As if that weren’t enough indication of his positive outlook, he revealed, “I’m crying tears of joy every day. It’s almost like my stroke has been a blessing.”
Although the fundraising campaign, which continues for another month, is still well short of its goal, Breyfogle told The New York Times that the money donated by fans and colleagues has already made a difference: “I don’t feel that I’m in dire financial straits anymore.”
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