We now start the tale that can only be called, The Curious Case of the Stammering Man!
As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of Marvel Comics' 1984 mini series, Secret Wars. I'm also a big fan of the Valiant Comics line that was started by Jim Shooter in the early 1990's. What do both of those series have in common? Each had creative input by Writer/Penciler/Inker/Editor/Creator Extraordinaire, Bob Layton.
Now, a quick perusal of his wikipedia page brings you up to speed on a few of Mr. Layton's numerous accomplishments in the comics field.
- Layton co-wrote Iron Man's Demon in a Bottle storyline as a part of his run on the title that made it one of Marvel's top books
- Penciled some issues of Marvel's Secret Wars title, one of my favourites
- Wrote and drew Hercules: Prince of Power, the first ever limited series comic book
- Was an integral part of the launch and creation of the Valiant Universe in the early 1990s, including the title X-O Manowar, another of my favs!
It may seem strange to some that at a convention boasting the attendance of such household names as Adam West, Julie Newmar, and Peter Mayhew (aka Batman, Catwoman, and CHEWBACCA, repsectively!), that none of them were even on my list of people to see! As soon as I entered those doors, it was straight to Bob Layton's table, three of my favourite books of his tucked under my arm.
That's when everything started to fall apart.
The following took place between 6:00pm, and 7:00pm, last night.
Donovan Yaciuk: (approaching table): Hi Bob Layton!
Bob Layton: Hello, there!
Donovan Yaciuk: Hi!
Bob Layton: ...
Donovan Yaciuk: I, uh, have these three books of yours that I love, and I was wondering if you'd sign them for me.
Bob Layton: I'd be happy to!
Donovan Yaciuk: I mean, uh...
Bob Layton: Yes?
Donovan Yaciuk: Do you, well... if you charge for signatures, you know, I'd totally...
Bob Layton: No, no. Lets see what you got there. (begins signing)
Donovan's brain: Whoah! Donovan! That's Bob Layton! What the--?! Why didn't you tell me we were here already! I told you to wake me before you got behind the wheel of the car! Okay, okay, it looks like he's signing things. You've done well without me so far. Now, don't say ANYTHING until I assess the situation!
Donovan Yaciuk: So, Bob, I like Iron Man!
Donovan's brain: What did I just tell you?!?!
Bob Layton: Sorry, how do you spell your name again? O-V-A-N?
Donovan's brain: Oooh! He's good! Tell him it's spelled just like the singer!
Donovan Yaciuk: Yep! Just like the singer!
Bob Layton: You're not even old enough to remember the singer!
Donovan Yaciuk: Yes I am! You haven't seen my hairline under this hat!
Donovan's brain: Hey, did you come up with that without my help?!?! That's pretty good!
Donovan Yaciuk: And, also, I like Secret Wars.
Bob Layton: Here's the first book! You're not going to want to touch that until the ink is dry. Give it at least a year.
Donovan Yaciuk: HAHAHAHA! A whole year!
Bob Layton: ...
Donovan's brain: ...
Donovan Yaciuk: And, also, I like X-O Manowar.
Bob Layton: Oh yeah, I see that's the book I'm signing right now.
Donovan Yaciuk: And, also, I like the Demon In A Bottle storyline you did with David.... Michuh, Mickey...
Bob Layton: David Michelinie. It rhymes with "Pickle-My-Knee".
Donovan Yaciuk: HAHAHA! I like pickles!
Donovan's brain: You IDIOT! Layton doesn't CARE that you like pickles or not! Now look, we've got to do better than this! We've been reading this guy's work for YEARS, and you're standing in front of him now, basically reciting his wikipedia page! What next?!? Are you going to tell him that his Hercules: Prince of Power books were the first comics mini-series in history?
Donovan Yaciuk: Oh, yeah! Bob, did you know that your Hercules: Prince of Power comics were the first mini-series in history?
Donovan's brain: Sigh. All right, Mr. Wikipedia. Why don't you just tell him he was born in 1952.
Donovan Yaciuk: Also, you were born in 1952.
Bob Layton: Pardon me?
Donovan's brain: Nothing.
Donovan Yaciuk: Nothing.
Donovan's brain: Okay, getting quiet. Let's not panic here, Donovan. Keep your mouth shut, let him sign the books, and in no way shape or form should you mention to Bob Layton that you run a Secret Wars fan site.
Donovan Yaciuk: Bob, remember earlier, when I was talking about Secret Wars? I also run a Secret Wars web site. Do you think maybe one time, I mean, if you aren't busy, that one time maybe I could ask you a few Secret Wars related questions?
Bob Layton: Sure.
Donovan's brain: I quit.
Donovan Yaciuk: (shakes Bob Layton's hand) Well, thank you, Bob Layton, thank you... for being one of the greatest, uhmm, artists, I mean, the living legend, and uhmm, the legend, a legend of comic books.. err... just thanks for signing my books!
Honestly, it went that badly! Head up to the list of accomplishments I posted above from Bob Layton's wikipedia page. Yep, I embarrassingly shoe-horned every single one of them into the conversation.
Immediately afterwards, I was reminded of the following SNL skit, except in this case, Bob Layton was Paul McCartney, and I was Chris Farley!
Things got better though! Luckily for me, my pal Ian Sokoliwski knows Mr. Layton professionally, and arranged a proper, less nervous re-introduction an hour or two later, as evidenced by my ridiculously disproportionate smile in the photo below.
I'll tell you, I've met a few comic book professionals in my life, and since you are only familiar with them by their work on the printed page, you never know what to expect. Some of them can be downright anti-social. But Bob Layton was such an entertaining, gregarious, welcoming guy to be around, meeting him was an absolute pleasure.
Well, for me at least!
And I got three books autographed! How sharp does a signed hardcover of the Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle Premiere Hardcover look!
And just for bragging rights, I've also got a personalized Secret Wars HC as well! Now, I just need to study Mike Zeck's wikipedia page and get prepared for HIS autograph!
Stay tuned for the "Tales from the Central Canada Comic Con #3 - I Shook the Hand of the Honky Tonk Man, and LIVED!".
Currently playing: The Guess Who - Undun
Currently colouring: A yet-to-be-solicited project from Dark Horse Comics!!!
Proudly in my fourth Cola free year!