Veteran comics pro Bob Layton, best known for his work on Iron Man, has worked for Marvel, Valiant, and DC Comics as well as other publishers, founded his own company (Future Comics), and served as penciller, writer, editor, and inker.
His humble origins in the comics biz, that of selling comics out of his apartment, led him to fellow comics fan Roger Stern. The two began publishing Contemporary Pictorial Literature (CPL), a fanzine that started out as Layton’s sales catalog. It featured covers by Layton, reviews by some of his customers, and Stern ultimately serving as editor. CPL became a hit, and led to a partnership with Charlton Comics and the publication of the in-house fanzine Charlton Bullseye (Charlton’s answer to Marvel’s F.O.O.M and DC’s The Amazing World of DC Comics). Through Charlton, Layton met and ultimately became apprenticed to comics legend Wally Wood.
Through his association with Wood, Layton eventually received an inking assignment from John Romita on an issue of Daredevil. With only five days to complete the issue, Layton sought out help from Dick Giordano and Neal Adams’ Continuity Associates. Layton not only completed the issue but ultimately received a more permanent job as the regular inker on Champions.
After about a year at Marvel, Layton moved over to DC where he inked All Star Comics, The Secret Society of Super-Villains, DC Super Stars, DC Special and, with writer David Michelinie, Star Hunters.
Going back to Marvel, and teaming again with Michelinie, the two began two long runs on Iron Man (from issue #119 through #154 and then returning for issues #215 through #250). Layton also worked on such titles as The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Power Man and Iron Fist, Micronaunts, X-Factor, and Hercules: Prince of Power (one of Marvel’s first mini-series’). He also designed the hugely popular Marvel Secret Wars toy line for Mattel.
At Valiant Comics, Layton played a huge role in the companies early success, working on several titles and characters, including Magnus, Robot Fighter, Solar, Man of the Atom, X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Eternal Warrior, H.A.R.D. Crops and Turok, Dinosaur Hunter.
At DC he worked with Dick Giordano on numerous projects, including the two Elseworlds stories, Dark Knight of the Round Table and Batman: Hollywood Knight as well as The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons).
In 2000, Layton founded Future Comics with Dick Giordano, David Michelinie and Allen Berrebbi. Though the company eventually folded, it was intended to revolutionize the direct market system in an effort to bypass distributors by selling, via the Internet, directly to comic shops and customers. With only 17 issues published, sales just were not sufficient to keep the company afloat. There are reportedly, however, some potential movie deals under discussion.
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