Interview with Bob Layton

Conducted by Eric Newsom in 1998.

This interview was conducted with Bob Layton on the occasion of the publication of the L.A.W., forthcoming in 1999. I’d met Layton and his collaborator Dick Giordano at the Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find convention in Charlotte, where they were displaying preview art for the potential series.

What is your opinion on the Moore/Gibbons series, The Watchmen? What would you have thought if Moore had been allowed to go with his original plan of using the Charlton characters?

I think that The Watchmen was one of the best comics that DC has ever published. However, I understand DC’s reluctance to cast the Charlton characters in the series, since the storyline would have altered them so drastically that they couldn’t be re-inserted into the DCU. It’s a shame that they didn’t have the Elseworlds format in place then. In the long run, it didn’t matter. Moore’s characters shocked us and touched our hearts just as effectively without being the Charlton characters.

If, er…When L.A.W. gets its own on-going series, is there any chance that any of the old vanguard might come back and work on backup features with their characters? Ditko, Boyette, P.A.M., McLaughlin, Aparo, and others?

There’s always a chance, Eric. I’d love nothing better that to keep the Charlton franchise alive and introduce the original creators to a new audience. Time …and sales …will tell.

Any plans for (dum dum dummmm) E-Man to make a guest appearance?

DC doesn’t have the rights to any “second generation” Charlton characters (ie: E-Man, Yang, Doomsday +1, etc.), so that’s not likely.

What’s your favorite Question story?

All of them.

Has Denny O’Neil (the writer of most of DC’s Question stories) read any of the L.A.W. yet? If so, what was his reaction?

I don’t know if Denny has read anything beyond the original Elseworld proposal, but he was very supportive in his comments on that document. I have seen Denny a couple of times since, up in the DC offices, and he has been encouraging to both Dickie and myself about the project. Den is a pretty good fellow.

How do you respond to speculators’ pre-judgments that Vic isn’t a team player and won’t fit in with the group?

Wait and see. The greatest misconception about this series has been that it’s a “Team Book”. It is NOT.

They don’t have membership cards, signal rings, secret handshakes or any of that crap. Yet, from day one, many of the on-line fans have pegged the series as “just another team book” without having read a single page of the story. I feel that many people have already made up their minds about the book and that really ticks me off!

I’ve heard rumors that Dick Giordano once saw Mysterious Suspense (the Question one-shot) and noted that there were other unpublished Question stories that Ditko did. Is there any truth to this?

If that’s true, they’re still in the mind of Steve Ditko. When Charlton opened their vaults to me back in the ’70’s for the Charlton Bullseye, I pretty much stripped their archives of any unpublished action hero material. The only thing I found on those two was the unprinted Blue Beetle #6…which I published. However, the Question was not in that issue.

Any plans to give Nora Lace super-powers and have her team up with Vic in a super-duo called the Questionairres?

Golly…why didn’t I think of that?

Bob Layton, in addition to being the co-writer and inker of DC’s upcoming series featuring The Question, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade, Judomaster, Peacemaker and Sarge Steel — The L.A.W. — was the creator of the Charlton Bullseye fanzine/treasure trove. He currently showcases his work for multiple companies on his official website.

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