Can you believe it ? Since May I´ve been pimping the IRON MAN by David Micheline , Bob Layton & John Romita Jr Omnibus Hardcover ( which you can still get at amazon.de for 57 bucks, which is not bad for a 99.99 dollar book ) and here I go and almost forget his birthday.
Now, as for many comic readers of my generation Bob Layton has been a big part of my four colored adventures be that as inker, artist or writer for Marvel or DC or as co - founder of Valiant where he also edited. Sadly I only discovered his later comic company FUTURE COMICS when it had already folded ( which he founded with Dick Giordano, Allen Berrebbi and David Micheline ) but I got all the issues I could get my hands on.
As it is nearly impossible to do an accurate overview of how big Bob Layton´s influence was on the comic industry on such a short post, I´m going to speak about one character on which he had a huge impact - and that more than once. As you might have guessed from the picture at the top of this post it´s Iron Man. Not only did Bob Layton define the look of Iron Man for me but during his first legendary run with David Micheline and John Romita Jr the team came up with a new twist on Iron Man´s alter ego without which Robert Downey Jr couldn´t have done such a splendid performance in the trilogy : rock star Tony Stark. That´s right.
Back in 1987, when the Iron Man comic book was facing cancelation they came up with the idea that the man behind the iron mask should become as interesting - or even more interesting - as his super hero persona.
From Today´s perspective that seems obvious but back then it was a new approach. And I´m only mentioning it especially because many people forget that besides making Iron Man´s armors look better than ever and coming up with a gazillion different armors the new team also made changes in the way Tony Stark was portrayed. Back to the Iron Man comic book, I wasn´t there from the beginning but I know which issue was my first. I still remember the first page of that comic, a wonderful splash page by John Romita Jr and Bob Layton, and I also still know the first words on that page : " Hoy es el primer dia del resto de tu vida."
TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
Okay, now there might be a few readers out there who just went : " The who with the how on the whaaat ? This Subzero guy´s effing crazy ! "
But as longtime reader might remember from this post I first read the issues of Iron Man by David Micheline, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr in the spanish editions of EL HOMBRE DE HIERRO. As luck would have it I jumped right into the whole DEMON IN A BOTTLE storyline although I didn´t finish it. Yup, the last spanish issue I had ended just with Iron Man smashing the computer that had been controlling his armor and facing a truckload of hired super villains. You knew that Iron Man was royally pissed and that he was just going to tear through all those goons to get his hands on the evil mastermind behind it all. There was going to be the mother of all slobberknockers coming but - that´s where the issue ended.
And it took me a few years to find out how that whole thing was resolved.
I found some scattered spanish issues and the ocasional original issue. I mentioned here that THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN 147 was the first american issue of the series I possessed but I´m not sure from where I got it. It may have been from a newsstand in Ludwigsburg that was getting its first american comics around the time I went to school. But it´s more likely that it was one of the many american comic books I got from an uncle who was a G. I. One day he just brought a huge stack of comics that contained some AVENGERS by John Buscema, mostly a lot of CONAN and KING CONAN also by John Buscema ( which basically ruined me for my entire comic reading life ) and THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN 147. And I still have that same issue somewhere in my comic collection Today.
But like I said, I would only get a few issues here and there and in those times you would get them at various stores and not necessarily in any particular order. You bought what you could get your hands on because in most cases you were lucky to find anything to read at all and that was it. Again, it would be many years before I reunited with Bob Layton´s work and once again a lot had changed about Iron Man, especially his bling.
THE BEST THERE IS, THE BEST THERE WAS, BEST THERE EVER WILL BE
I know, a lot of you are groaning right now and grinding their teeth but for me the Silver Centurion armor - as it has come to be known around the knowledgeable ones of Iron Man lore - is the epitome of the idea of a better world and the advance of man through the application of science.
Because in it´s best moments the book was not only about another super hero or the exploits of one of the richest men in the Marvel universe. It also was about science fiction and making the things possible that in our world only existed as concepts.If somebody had an idea about anything it could become real in the pages of a comic book. The sky was the limit and I had just arrived at the right moment because there was another era of ironclad greatness waiting just around the corner in my next issue.
And talking about next issue, I´m afraid that´s all we have time for. And no, that means no STORM covers for this post. I know that I promised to post more but I just don´t have the time. Okay, ONE cover. But that´s it.
Initially I wanted to do a post about some new bargain books at amazon Yesterday but by the time I finally had managed to have all the material like links and pictures it was already too late to start a post. And the main book I wanted to pimp - another of Dark Horse´s CREEPY ARCHIVES - had already gone up. It was at less than half price and then got to slightly less than at most comic shops. So I didn´t make the post.
I wouldn´t have been able to order the books - which I tend to do in most cases because I don´t recommend books I wouldn´t buy myself - anyway since I only got my latest comic order from amazon Today. And it seems fate or the universe or some unknown force had other plans for me. Like I said, I almost forgot that Today was Bob Layton´s birthday so I had nothing prepared. Nevertheless I wanted to do a post in honor of one of my childhood heroes and with a bit of luck we can continue this Tomorrow - although more likely the day after Tomorrow - because there are still a lot of good things to come including the return of a certain artist.
For those of you who want to know more about Bob Layton you can go to his wikipedia page or go on his blog and I´m sure he´s on facebook and twitter. There´s also a great interview with Bob Layton on Comic Geek Speak and if you want to add another book to your Bob Layton comic library and you have already ordered the omnibus I´m constantly pimping you might want to check out COLONY, a webcomic he did together with his mentor Dick Giordano before he passed away. You should be able to find the printed version at amazon and finer comic stores everywhere.
Since I posted a video of comic legend Don Lawrence drawing in my last post I wanted to put something similar on this post. But sadly I couldn´t find that so I´m posting an old news report of a comic book signing by Mr. Bob Layton. As you can see not much has changed in the way the media covers comics and who is really surprised that the man on the street has no idea who Bob Layton is. I doubt most of the people who went to see any one of the Iron Man movies heard of him because his name ( along with all the other influential comic creators who were mentioned in the credits ) was buried somewhere in the credits with really tiny letters.
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