Bob-Layton_with Robert Downey Jr

Collecting Original Comic Book Art & Commissions – PLUS Interview with Legend Bob Layton – Iron Man

secret wars 4 variant recreation
Bob Layton Re-Imagination of Classic Secret Wars #4 Cover.

A very rewarding and unique experience can be found for those of us who have chosen to collect Original Comic Book Art. A chance to own a true one-of-a-kind piece of art and even interact with your favorite artists is unforgettable. The first piece of Original Art I purchased was after meeting Mr. Bob Layton at Wondercon in Anaheim, CA in 2012. I shared with him that my favorite cover of all time was Secret Wars #4 and that I still owned the original copy I bought off the news stand as a kid. 

Secret Wars #4 Cover
Original Secret Wars #4 Cover Sold on Newstand

After some great conversation he shared that he could recreate the cover for me or do a Reimagination of the classic cover which is what I opted for.  Mr. Layton was even kind enough to “include” me in the creative process, and in hindsight these personal interactions became the foundation of my favorite piece and the memories that can become a cornerstone to any comic book collection.  Really isn’t it the “connection” to our collections that make them special?

Collecting Original art doesn’t have to be too expensive either….you can start with panels (the inside pages of a comic book) and if you don’t pick the hottest artists, titles or sequences many can be had for under $100. As a rule of thumb Covers are the most expensive and sought after item as they are typically the visual that most collectors associate with – and they just plain look cool! Then Splash pages – which are pages inside the book featuring one large picture. From there…the characters on a page….what they are doing….etc….all affect the value.

You can build a collection around your favorite artists, stories, characters, commission pieces, etc….literally the options are so vast just let your imagination run wild and most importantly have fun.

Bob Layton on set of Iron Man 3 - The Armory
Bob Layton on set of Iron Man 3 – The Armory

Mr. Bob Layton is one of the legends of the comic book industry whose influence and work has spanned beyond the medium and into television and feature films. If you’ve seen the Iron Man movies, then you’re familiar with Bob’s work (along with his creative partner David Michelinie), who reinvented the Iron Man comic, taking it from near-cancellation to one of comics’ all-time bestselling series. Numerous concepts and characters that David and Bob created are represented on the silver screen in the Iron Man movies (where Bob has acted as the film’s story consultant).

When someone commissions you to re-imagine a classic cover what is your creative process? How do you find time in your busy schedule to get these done?

My commission schedule is sporadic, to tell the truth. Between my convention appearances, freelance comic work and my Hollywood screenwriting duties, there’s usually a narrow window where I can fit in a few commissioned works of comic art.  That’s why I always include a disclaimer that it may take 4-8 weeks to complete a commission.  However, I always make an effort to complete the work in a timely fashion on a “first come-first served” basis. If it is an original composition, I’ll generally submit a preliminary sketch to the commission client for their approval before completing the final product.

Do you have a cover or piece you have drawn that is your personal favorite?

Demon in a BottleI love my “Demon in a Bottle” cover for Iron Man #128.  It is my most requested recreation cover. However, I limit myself to only doing one of those per year, so I don’t flood the market with them.

A favorite story line you wrote/drew that you are most proud of?

“Demon in a Bottle”, the Iron Man Camelot saga, Solar: Alpha and Omega, The X-O Manowar Time Travel storyline and all of my stories on “The Second Life of Dr. Mirage”.

Is there a comic or character you haven’t drawn yet but would like to get your hands on?

DC’s Adam Strange and Challengers of the Unknown.

Did you collect anything when you were growing up?

I was an avid comic book collector when I was young but gave it up when I turned pro.  As my mentor Dick Giordano admonished me while I was his apprentice; “You can’t be a Seller AND a Buyer.”

Do you collect anything today?

Not really. I used to have a complete Marvel collection but sold it shortly after becoming a professional. And I really don’t follow mainstream comics anymore.

You have definitely expanded your reach beyond your massive comic influences to Hollywood now….are there any upcoming projects you would like to share with readers?

Can’t talk about much. (Loose lips sinks ships)  I’m currently working on a rewrite of a Zombie movie that I was hired to script doctor.
And I just finished the third draft of “Mettle”, a major motion picture, that I wrote for Edward James Olmos’ production company.

You can read more about Bob Layton’s current and upcoming projects on his website where he is also accepting commision requests.

Let us know if you decide to get a commission from Mr Layton or any artist for that matter. We would love to hear your story and see the final product! We believe this is a part of the hobby that many haven’t yet had the chance to experience and may be the most rewarding of all!

Until then….keeping turning those pages!

Leave a Reply