Comic Legends: Norm Breyfogle and the Oddity of His 1977 Robin Design

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundredth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

As part of our celebration of SEVEN HUNDRED of these things, this will be a special holiday weekend where we honor seven comic book greats that we lost this year with a legend devoted to each one of them (Steve Ditko, Russ Heath, Gary Friedrich, Marie Severin, Norm Breyfogle, Carlos Ezquerra and Jim Novak). As I add the legends, you can click on the given person's name and it will bring you to their legend!

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Norm Breyfogle's first published artwork was in an issue of Batman Family in 1977 where they showed his proposed Robin costume re-design.


False Enough for a False

One of the great weird coincidences in comic book history is that the late Norm Breyfogle saw a design he did for a new costume for Robin appear in Batman Family #13 in 1977 when he was still just a teenager...

and then 13 years later, he was one of the artists that DC asked to specifically pitch them on a new costume for the then brand-new Robin, Tim Drake...

And Breyfogle was the first artist to draw Drake in the new suit...

And they incorporated some of Breyfogle's ideas, most notably the collapsible fighting staff...

(As an aside, with Breyfogle adding the flight element to the design, I just like that he was one of the first artists to draw Nightwing in HIS short-lived costume that had a flight element in it...

Anyhow, here is the slight twist in the story. Very often I have seen that page by Breyfogle credited as his first published comic book drawing.

That's not necessarily the case.

Here's Breyfogle himself on the topic when asked about it by Mike O'Ryan in an interview a number of years ago:

O'Ryan: I recall as a kid already aware of your work on Batman stumbling onto your piece in an old Batman Family…

Breyfogle: Oh, the Robin drawing? [laughs] God, I was 14! There was a ‘design Robin’s costume’ contest in Batman Family, so I did a really large drawing, 18 by 24 or so, and I penciled and inked it. I was pretty good by the time I was 14. I colored it. But what they did, apparently, with a lot of the drawings if not all of them was they had some production artist redraw them if they didn’t fit their parameters. It was probably too large, and it was in color. They didn’t want to bother with a halftone shot for some amateur, and the contest was printed pretty small anyway. When I saw it in print I was horrified. I was like ‘Oh my God! What did they do? They redrew it!’ I was quite a bit better at that point than that exhibits. I thought there was some really good designs from some of the people that sent them in. I’d like to know how many of the other designs looked a lot better than they did in print too. I don’t have it now, so I could never prove that. I’ll always just be asserting it for the rest of my life. I’ve lost so many of the originals over the years…

So, you see, while the DESIGN is Breyfogle's, the art surprisingly enough was not his. Weird, huh?

Luckily, we got plenty of amazing Breyfogle Robin artwork over the years.

Thanks to Mike O'Ryan and the great Norm Breyfogle for the information!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Discover the major change that John Carpenter did to Halloween after a film executive that he screened an early version of the film criticized the film!

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