Interview: Bob Layton

 This interview was done through emails from february 2004 to March 2004

Matthieu-David: Which artists influenced you the most ? And what are your influences in general ?

Bob Layton: Dick Giordano would be mymost prominent comics influence. Dickie has been mentoring me for the last thirty years. That's a significant contribution to my general neurosis.(Laugh)

Wally Wood was the other major contributor to my craft.  As a writer, it would be David Michelinie and Archie Goodwin.

Arthur C. Clarke, Julia Child, Stanley Kubrick and Rod Serling are my biggest general influences.

M-D: Is there an artist, writer, inker... you would you love to work with ?

B.L.: Sure, there are quite a few that I haven’t worked with yet. Probably too many to mention here.

Most notably, I’d love to do a project with Alan Davis.




M-D: On which comic book would you like to work or is there a specific character that you would like to work on ( can even be a dream project )?

B.L.:No. I generally prefer to create my own characters. However my one dream project in mainstream comics would be my own concept for DC’s Adam Strange.  I’ve always seen that character as my DC version of Hercules.

M-D: If you hadn’t worked in comics, what would you have done for a living ?

B.L.: A Chef without a doubt.  I love to cook and take great pride in creating artistic cuisine.



M-D: Could you describe your typical day ?
B.L.: I get up at 7:00 a.m. every morning. The Future Entertainment offices are located in my home, so I generally work in my sweats. (very cozy) Matt and Barbara (my staff) usually arrive at 9:00-9:30 Monday thru Friday.  Then, we get to work dealing with the usual administrative business of the day.  After lunch, our associates in Hollywood are starting their day, so we spend a lot of the afternoon on the phone and answering their e-mail inquiries. After 5 p.m. is when I start writing or working on my art for the day (at least until the missus gets home.) I usually hit the sheets by 2 a.m.

Then we start the whole process all over again.

And yes…I’m aware that I don’t sleep enough.  


M-D: If you were a comic book character, who would you be ? and why ?

B.L.: Perry White—because I could smoke cigars all day and no one can yell at me.


M-D: What’s your favourite movie  ?

B.L.: Apocalypse Now.


M-D: More generally what do you think about the translation from comics to films ? ( which do you think succeeded in terms of visual ideas and story telling )

B.L.:I’m currently negotiating with Hollywood to bring one of my characters to the big screen, so I’m getting a lesson in how the process works. Comics are created for a small niche’ audience while films have to appeal to a much broader base.  In a lot of cases, I think Hollywood does a better job of creating a viable franchise with more universal appeal than we do. One of the interesting points to why there are so many comics-to film projects being produced is that most of the young executives currently working in Hollywood are former comic fans. They’re going back to material that they loved as young people and bringing it to life in their chosen medium. In almost every meeting I’ve gone to, they were already familiar with my work in comics. It’s very flattering, actually.


M-D: What’s your favourite song ?

B.L.: “Fight the Power” by the Isley Brothers.


M-D: do you listen to music when you draw ?

B.L.: No, actually I listen to XM radio—mostly XM150 XL –the Comedy Channel.


M-D: What’s your favourite book ?

B.L.: “Replay” by Ken Grimwood.

M-D: Did you have some hard times in your career ? which ones and how did you deal with those ?

B.L.: Breaking in was tough. This was back in the 70’s when you usually had to wait for someone to die to inherit a series. J Giordano always admonished me to learn every aspect of the business—that would insure me continuing to get work when times are tough. I have to say that he was correct.  For the majority of my career, I’ve been able to function as an editor, writer, penciller, or inker depending on what’s available at the time. Fortunately, thanks to Dickie’s sage wisdom, I’ve been able to keep busy while so many of my peers are unemployed.



M-D: What is your best achievement so far ?

B.L.: If you ask others, they’d probably say Iron Man. I’m grateful that my time on Iron Man helped to open new doors for me. However, I personally believe that my achievements at Valiant and Future are the things that best define my career to date. Creating business entities and intellectual properties is NOT an easy proposition.  However, I’ve succeeded in creating almost as many characters as Stan Lee did—and the Future properties are just now getting off the ground.  

M-D: What's your favourite type of scripts ? very detailled or not ?
B.L.: I HATE working from full scripts—I find them way too confining. And let’s face it—a lot of comic writers are about as visual as Stevie Wonder.  I prefer to work “Marvel Style”—drawing the story from a moderately-detailed plot synopsis.

M-D: What material do you use for your art ? what type of pencils do you use ?
B.L.: Do you mean what tools ? I ink primarilywitha Hunt #107 crow quill point. ( Actually, I use two points : one filed down to create a more blunt line and a fine point.

M-D: how do you look back at your past work ?  do you critizise your work a lot ?

B.L.: Fondly.  I appreciate every single opportunity that I’ve been blessed with.  It hasn’t been easy but it’s been very rewarding.  I’d do it all over again gladly.  But, keep in mind I’m far from done yet.  I’m simply pursuing other avenues of storytelling by moving my attention to Hollywood. You’ll be seeing a variety of Future properties on the Big Screen in the next few years.  That’s a guarantee.

I’ve always been critical of my own work.  Dickie always told me that: “On the day you do the perfect page that’s the day you’re probably finished as an artist.”

M-D: What’s the weirdest drawing a fan asked you ?

B.L.:Having to draw Three X-Men chicks in a locker room-- naked.


M-D: Have you ever been to Paris and if so what surprised you the most when you arrived in Paris ?

B.L.: I’ve been dying to visit your country for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been everywhere in Europe except France. I’ve kind of been saving a trip to Paris for something special. Who knows—perhaps my fans there will invite me over sometime. I’ll be there in a heartbeat. (hint-hint)

M-D: noted :) I'll see what I can do ;)


M-D: And since my website is mainly focused on Dr Doom and that you drew him: How would you describe the character ?

B.L.: Doom is a noble character—but he’s also a sociopath.  He operates by his own moral code—which is very different from the codes that govern you or me. However, he’s true to his unique values—to the point of being inflexible.


M-D : Who do you think wrote Dr Doom the best ?

B.L.: Stan Lee obviously.



M-D: What is the trickiest thing to draw about him ?

B.L.: That friggin’ grid inside the mouth of his mask.



M-D : To draw Dr Doom, did you get influenced by other artist’s visions of the character or not ?

B.L.: Of course—Jack Kirby influences anyone who draw the Doctor.


Thanks a lot Bob and see you in Paris !

 Check Bob Layton's website  at :