My interest in comic books has come and gone over the years like many people out there. Life has a way of phasing things in and out based on your experiences and responsibilities at the time. As a child, I would check out a giant hardcover Batman book that held the most important stories of the Caped Crusader throughout the 1930s to the 1970s. After drifting away from my favorite superhero’s printed adventures, I regained interest when a friend of mine in high school loaned me stacks of issues to read after Tim Burton’s movie came out in 1988.
One of the story-arcs that immediately caught my attention and always stayed with me was “Anarky in Gotham City” written by Alan Grant and illustrated by Norm Breyfogle. The character of Anarky was created by both men as an anti-hero who embraces anarchist values. Throughout his different appearances, he addressed multiple social issues including environmentalism, antimilitarism, economic inequality, and political corruption.
As a straight edge punk at the time, he was too cool and anti-establishment for me not to like. His flamboyant costume, which incorporated a type of red shroud with a Guy Fawkes mask and long cane with Anarchy symbol emblazoned on his chest, only made him more exciting.
Anarky wasn’t the only reason I loved the late 1980s and early 1990s Batman comics. Norm Breyfogle’s art in general drew me to the books. I loved his style and depiction of every character he took on. One of my most prized possessions is a poster he did and sells as a print of many (if not all) of the Dark Knight’s archenemies surrounding him and ready to pounce.
Anarky is back in the spotlight again thanks to his addition to the CW’s “Arrow.” Alexander Calvert of “Bates Motel” is taking on the character for the hit TV show. It sounds like he’ll be taking on a different form for the series, however. He’s described as “a deranged freelancing criminal who is willing to do whatever it takes to impress a potential employer." That doesn’t sound like the Anarky I know and love. Breyfogle shared his thoughts on why producers of the show steered away from the original concept of the character.
“Looks like I'll have to start watching that series! A powerful corporation can't be publishing or televising a heroic character who points out their sociopathic natures,” Breyfogle stated via his Facebook profile.
He doesn’t think looking at different facets of the Anarky character to be a bad thing, either. He told fans, “IMO, just as Batman can be portrayed in many ways, so can Anarky.” I wholeheartedly agree with him.
“Arrow” marks the second time Anarky has appeared on television. The first time was in the animated series “Beware the Batman.” His costume was altered from its usual red and yellow / gold colors to a solid white for unknown reasons. Again, his character motivations were different than what they were in the original comics. Breyfogle pounded home his thoughts on the changes in this version as well.
“I considered it to be just an alternate version. Of course, I'd have liked them to use our version, but they own the character and they can do with them what they want. I do consider it to be evidence that corporate power doesn't like the original message of Anarky's philosophy,” he commented.
I’m fully open and excited to see what showrunners do with Anarky in “Arrow.” I agree with Mr. Breyfogle when it comes to getting a chance to explore different versions of the character. I’m also happy that one of my favorite artist’s works is in the limelight again.
Norm Breyfogle suffered from a stroke on December 16, 2014, affecting his abilities to draw with his left hand. He has since began the long road to recovery and keeps himself busy writing stories instead of illustrating them. Breyfogle still maintains a positive outlook towards the different talents he possesses.”
“Norm the comics artist and illustrator is dead, but Norm the human being with a creative spirit and lots of reason and compassion remains alive.” Powerful words from a talented man who continues to have a major impact on the comic book world and the people around him.