Keith Giffen – RIP

Creative comic book genius Keith Giffen has passed away.

Keith Ian Giffen

November 30, 1952 – October 9, 2023

Keith’s family announced the death on Facebook as Keith had requested them to:

Once friends and fans realized Keith had actually passed there was outpouring of love for the man.

Mainstream media is reporting the creator/writer/artist’s death but we’ll stick with the comic book sites.

From Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool:

Keith Giffen, co-creator of Lobo, Rocket Raccoon, Maxwell Lord, Jaime Reyes: Blue Beetle and the Justice League One Punch, has died at the age of 70. He suffered a stroke on Sunday, the 8th of October and died on Monday the 9th.

above: The creation of Rocket Racoon by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen; © Marvel Entertainment

Heidi MacDonald at The Beat:

Giffen was a true original, a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, an artist who took chances and went his own way…and showed others the way. 

Among his notable runs, a long stint on Legion of Superheroes, Doctor Fate, Amethyst, Aquaman, and Lobo (co-created with Roger Slifer for Omega Men). His most influential run was on Justice LEague International, along with JM DeMatties and Kevin Maguire, a book that took a skewed look at superheroes without going the grim and gritty route, with a comedic, sardonic tone that centered characters like Booster Gold and Guy Gardner. Ambush Bug was all Giffen’s own, a deeply weird and unsettlingly hilarious look at superhero that led the way for today’s Deadpool/Harley Quinn vibe.

Brian Cronin at CBR gives a long look at Keith’s comic book career.

Giffen continued working on a number of other series over the last decade plus, including co-writing O.M.A.C. as part of New 52, and then a number of series with J.M. DeMatteis at DC, like Larfleeze, Justice League 3000 and Scooby Apocalypse. Most recently, Giffen rebooted the Inferior Five at DC with Jeff Lemire.

© Marvel Entertainment

How good was Keith? He broke into comic books as I was leaving them behind, at least the superheroes. A decade later he dragged me back to his twisted version of superheroes. Ambush Bug was hilarious, I even grabbed a few of his and DeMatteis’ Justice League. Later he kept me in the game with Lobo.

J.M. DeMatteis, a writing partner on Justice League, gives a heartfelt tribute.

My old friend and collaborator Keith Giffen has passed away. Keith has had his share of health issues in recent years, but he was such a feisty, tenacious guy I was sure he’d outlive us all. “Some day,” I once told him, “the Earth will be an apocalyptic hellhole, all of humanity will be gone, but you’ll still be here, sitting in the rubble, smoking a cigarette.”

Keith, as anyone who worked with him can attest, was one of the most brilliantly creative humans ever to work in comics, the Jack Kirby of my generation of creators. He was a curmudgeon with a heart of gold. An extraordinarily generous collaborator. And, as my wife observed, “He was like a character out of a Keith Giffen story.”

© DC Comics; covers via Grand Comics Database

Then there is the work nobody is mentioning – for a short while he drew a Sunday comic strip.

Mickey Spillane’s Mike Danger by writer Max Collins and inker Mike Barreiro ran from September 18, 1994 to February 26, 1995. Keith Giffen did the layouts and pencils for the first 5 Sundays, until October 16, 1994.

© Big Entertainment

above: the September 18 Mike Danger; below: the October 16 Mike Danger

The color version is from Allan Holtz who has more about this obscurity.

Keith Giffen returned to do one more Sunday (February 5, 1995) to spell Joe Staton.

Tomorrows has posted a great Keith Giffen interview from 2000.

Jerry Bails has a 20th Century bibliography and 13th Dimension has an Ambush Bug cover gallery.

above image from the Cracked obituary

One thought on “Keith Giffen – RIP

  1. They should make a school of his kind of work so others can be inspired to make creative works like this Picaso of the comic book generia.We need more creativity in the comics and in the newspapers too attract new viewers so thier imagination can escape the ruthless word we live in and have a little of peace of mind ,in our heart and head.Sometime, we need too leave this mad world of chaos . Rip and thank you for sanctuary of peace and being us as kids.God Bless thank you.

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