L-r: Captain Everything, Norm, The Ultra Conservative. Artist: Jim Valentino.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Aardvark-Vanaheim
First Appeared: 1983
Creator: Jim Valentino
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In the early 1980s, superheroes dominated American comic books, even while the Direct Distribution system was making it possible for more and more independent creators, …

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… such as Bill Willingham and Dave Stevens, to reach their potential audience. This resulted in a thriving market for independently-published superhero parodies, such as Thunderbunny and Megaton Man. It was during this time that cartoonist Jim Valentino (Shadowhawk, no relation; Guardians of the Galaxy) entered the comics field (using only his surname) with normalman (which, like the small society, isn't capitalized).

The character first appeared in the back pages of Cerebus the Aardvark #56 (November, 1983). The publisher, Aardvark-Vanaheim (Ms. Tree, Neil the Horse) had been known to use that position to test reader response to proposed new series (for example, Journey, by William Messner-Loebs (The Flash, Epicurius the Sage), had started there). He moved out into his own title right away — normalman #1 was dated January, 1984,

The reason normalman stood out for his normalcy was, he was rocketed away from the planet Arnold, where being normal was the norm, as a baby when his father, a junior CPA, took it into his head that the planet was about to explode. (When it didn't, Norm's mom shot him for sending her baby into outer space.) The kid grew up in the rocket during the 20 years it took for it to arrive on the planet Levram (spell it backward), where everybody had one super power or another.

The Levram folks called him "normalman", tho why they thought it was "normal" not to have super powers on a planet where not having them was out of the ordinary, isn't clear. He quickly became pals with Captain Everything (who, like Burp the Twerp, had every possible super power) in a parody of Jimmy Olsen's relationship with Superman. He even dressed like Jimmy.

That was only the beginning of normalman's comic book spoofs. In his 13 issues (including those published by Sim's then-wife, Deni Loubert, after their separation, under the imprint "Renegade Press", and also including an annual), he poked fun at Elfquest, The Spirit, Richie Rich and many, many more.

A trade paperback, collecting all 13 issues plus the two preliminary stories from the Cerebus back pages, was published by Slave Labor Graphics (Gargoyles, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac).

In later years, Valentino, now using his full name, became one of the creators involved in the formation of Image Comics (Spawn, Savage Dragon). Image published a couple of 1990s and 21st century special normalman issues. In 2007, Image published a trade paperback collecting all published normalman material, including those specials.

If more about the character is ever published, chances are, Image will publish it.


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Text ©2009-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Jim Valentino.