This is the second part of a two part interview with Bob Layton. In the first part, Bob discusses his role in Iron Man 2, the evolution of War Machine and learning to embrace fans' association of him and Iron Man.
You’ve drawn, written and edited on numerous titles in the comics field- do you have a “dream project" that you haven't done?
I’ve had several “dream projects” over my career. Unfortunately, none of them ever came to fruition, with the exception of Colony, my long-running web comic. At one time, Barry Windsor-Smith and I pitched a Challengers of the Unknown mini-series to DC, which they inexplicably turned down. Challs was the first comic I ever read as a child and I’ll always have a special place for those characters in my heart.
Then, there was the unpublished Spider-Man graphic novel ‘Gilded Cage”, written by me, penciled by Paul Smith and inked by Barry.
It was one of those dream projects that, for one reason or another, never fully got off the ground. During Jim Shooter's reign as Editor-in-Chief, he approved my concept for doing a very adult Spider-Man story, one that left the character somewhat altered by the end of the graphic novel. In order to give the book the maximum amount of impact and attention, I was able to recruit two of the most sought-after talents working in the business at that time - Paul Smith (Penciller) and Barry Windsor-Smith (Inker). In fact, Barry had submitted copious notes on the story itself, prior to us actually getting into production.
Needless to say, with talents like that, who are in constant demand, the project got off to a somewhat slow start, although Paul did get twenty-some pages penciled before being pulled off to work on other assignments. Unfortunately, those pages, along with the rest of the story, sat in limbo for quite a while.
Eventually, Tom DeFalco took over as Editor-in-Chief and decided that the storyline itself was far too life-altering for the character. Keep in mind, that prior to taking over the center seat at Marvel, Tom was the editor of all the Spider-Man titles and had some serious opinions concerning the future direction of the character.
So, with a tear of regret in his eye, DeFalco canceled the project, paid everyone for their contributions and told us to get the Hell out of his office.
You have begun promoting a new film which you and David Micheline wrote called Shambler. What can you tell us about the project and where are you at in the film process?
This is a movie currently in the works in which my creative partner on Iron Man, David Michelinie, and I created the concept and wrote an extensive story treatment. We teamed up with producers from the Gillen Group and RIP Media, who brought in veteran Hollywood writer Steve Barr to draft the final screenplay. The Shambler Movie Site is already up at:. Here's a capsule synopsis of the concept:
"He's a Walking Crime Scene!"
Shambler is an Action/Horror/Comedy-much in the vein of Zombieland. Capitalizing on the lexicon of traditional mummy movies known to most moviegoers, this younger interruption of the genre' combines horror with comedy as the young scientific genius, Dr. Samuel Pratt, is resurrected, mummified in police scene crime tape and out for revenge against the criminals who have stolen his life's work. But time is against him. Sam must find a way to restore himself to true life before he denigrates into a mindless killing machine - the hulking anti-hero, who lurks in the shadows of LA's underbelly, which the tabloids have dubbed: Shambler!
We are currently funding the film and shopping for a director. We hope to begin shooting by this summer. It’s seriously funny and action-packed and I believe our fans won’t be disappointed!
Where do you see the comic book market ten years from now?
My frequent business partner and former Future publisher, Skip Farrell, and I are currently hammering out deal to get Colony and get the entire Future Comics library onto iPad. We’ve been waiting for technology to come up with a way to bypass the 22 page pamphlet, and I believe the iPad is the first step in that direction. Electronic comics will change the comics industry the same way that the music industry was altered by the MP3 and ITunes players. It will definitely change the distribution models. I don’t know if the 22 page comic will survive or not—but it’s definitely in trouble now!
However, I believe the TPB market will continue to thrive. There will always be something nice about owning a hard copy of your favorite series!
Where do you see Bob Layton ten years from now?
Eating, peeing and breathing out of plastic tubes?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Always. But I’ll stop for now.
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