Iron Man visionary suiting up for visit to Ottawa ComicCon

The man who helped make the comic book character Iron Man the iconic figure he is today is gearing up for Ottawa's ComicCon next month.

Legendary comic book creator, writer, artist and designer Bob Layton is best known for re-imagining and revolutionizing Marvel Comics' Iron Man in the 1970s and 80s.

Layton says his keen interest in science helped him breathe new life into the comic, which was under threat of cancellation when he came on board in 1978.

"I grew up reading Scientific American. Most kids were going for colouring books and stuff like that," said Layton. 

"I was always very fascinated with science, and to me that was one of the things that was absolutely needed to make this character credible, was to make the science as believable as possible."

Layton and co-writer David Michelinie established a deeper, more complex Iron Man character, also known as Tony Stark, now portrayed in blockbuster movies by Robert Downey Jr.

Layton also envisioned Iron Man's renowned suits of armour, which have become the character's trademark.

"It didn't seem plausible to me to have one suit of armour that could just do anything," he said. "So that's when I started introducing the variant armours — armours that were designed for specific functions. Because that also lended itself to the credibility of the character."

Treated like 'royalty'

That credibility extends to Layton, who's earned respect around the world from comic book enthusiasts, as well as the people behind the hugely successful Iron Man movies.

"I've been on the sets, I've been to the premieres. When I was on the set with Downey and [director Jon] Favreau, everybody there treated me like I was visiting royalty. They really did. Because you gotta remember, these guys are fans too," he said.

"Maybe I don't get to participate in the billions of dollars that Iron Man makes, but the good will has served me well over 40 years."

Layton will share stories of his illustrious career working for Marvel, DC Comics, and Valiant Comics at Ottawa ComicCon, running May 12-14 this year.

"Ottawa is my favourite Con to go to, and one of my favourite cities to visit. I can't wait to get up there and meet everyone," he said.