‘Iron Man’ artist to be honored by Hillsborough County for contribution to Florida film industry

The artist responsible for drawing one of the most iconic superheroes is honored by Hillsborough County in a special exhibit at the University of Tampa and a film screening at the Tampa Theater for his contribution to the motion picture industry in Florida.

After 45 years of drawing ‘Iron Man’, Bob Layton has learned that comics aren’t necessarily all about pictures.

“Someone asked me during a scam if I could (draw ‘Iron Man’) with my eyes closed,” he said. “It looked like I drew it on the subway. It still looked like Iron Man.”

Layton’s stories are in over 6,500 comics and 14 movies, including one that is his story.

“Being a storyteller was my life’s purpose,” Layton said.

Issue 120 of ‘Iron Man’, subtitled ‘Demon in a Bottle’, confronts the character’s battle with alcoholism.

“That look, that emotion, made that blanket resonate for 45 years,” he said. “It was a cry for help. I was in the throes of alcoholism when I did that.”

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Her work is now featured at the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at the University of Tampa.

Next week, the Tampa Theater will host a free screening of “Iron Man,” and Hillsborough County will honor him, citing his career and dedication to Florida’s film industry.

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He will take it, but finds the focus on him, as opposed to his characters, to be somewhat awkward.

“As artists, our knowledge always exceeds our abilities by a degree,” Layton said. “As soon as I make a page, I can immediately tell what’s wrong.”

Iron Man Character Drawing

But he says there’s a reason comic books — and the heroes they spawned — outlive their creators.

“Comics are mirrors,” Layton explained. “They are not an innovation in themselves. They always reflect what is happening in society.”

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Layton, who some are calling a comic book industry “legend,” is surrounded by his legacy, which was born to a four-year-old who learned to read by flipping through comic books with his sister.

Bob Layton with autograph behind him

“You look at the power of comics,” he said. “What does it mean when they call you legend? It means you’re old.”

See Layton’s work at the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at the University of Tampa on Monday, August 1 at 6 p.m. The art gallery will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2 and Wednesday, August 3, or by appointment.

LINK: Make a reservation to see Layton’s work at a free screening of “Iron Man” at the Tampa Theater on August 4 by visiting tampatheatre.org/movie/iron-man.

Lucas E. Kelly