Comic book writer-artist Keith Giffen — the cocreator of DC's Lobo and Marvel's Rocket Raccoon — passed away at age 70 following a stroke. Giffen also cocreated the Jamie Reyes version of DC's Blue Beetle.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Giffen's family announced his death on Facebook with a prewritten sarcastic statement by Giffen that read, “I told them I was sick… Anything not to go to New York Comic Con, Thanx. Bwah ha ha ha ha.”
Giffen is best known for Legion of Super-Heroes in the 1980s and 1990s. As an artist on Omega Men, Giffen cocreated Lobo, initially conceived as a villain who later evolved into a fan-favorite antihero. The Hollywood Reporter reports, “The 1987 launch of Justice League International introduced fans to Giffen’s subversive and sarcastic sense of humor. Written with J.M. DeMatteis and drawn by Kevin Maguire, the book was not afraid of dressing down or playing up the absurdity of characters such as Batman, Green Lantern/Guy Gardner, Martian Manhunter, and Shazam while also raising the profiles of Fire and Ice (then called Green Flame and Ice Maiden, respectively) and Blue Beetle, a new hero to the DC stable through an acquisition of Charlton Comics.”
Keith Giffen Worked for Both DC and Marvel
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Before making his name at DC, Giffen did a stint at Marvel in the 1970s, when he and writer Bill Mantlo introduced Rocket Raccoon in the pages of Marvel Preview, a black-and-white magazine. (Mantlo would later bring the character to the pages of Marvel’s monthly books, where many years later Rocket Raccoon became part of the Guardians of the Galaxy. James Gunn brought the character into the mainstream with his hit sci-fi trilogy, where Rocket was at first a scene-stealer before becoming the emotional centerpiece of this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.)”
DC revamped Blue Beetle in 2006 as a Latino high school student named Jaime Reyes who bonds with a superpowered suit of extraterrestrial origin. Giffen cocreated the character with writer John Rogers. This summer, Warner Bros. released Blue Beetle starring Xolo Maridueña as Reyes.
In an interview with Jon B. Cooke from 2000, Giffen talked about his first exposure to comic books. Giffen said:
“My mother used to do tailoring work, sewing work for neighbors and friends. She was really handy and capable of cobbling things together out of patterns. So a lot of the women in the neighborhood would go over there and pay her to do what they couldn't do. And there was this one woman who worked at one of these—I don't know what they're called, but they were these big paper plants where all of the comics came with the titles torn off to be destroyed. And she would just scoop handfuls up and bring them to my mother, and she would pass them on to me. The first comic book I remember, and a fan was kind enough to send me a copy so I've actually got it—I don't remember the number, but it was a World's Finest issue. It was when Batwoman got Superman's powers. All I could remember about it for years was that it had this big green monster with Mickey Mouse gloves on the cover and Batwoman zooming down. That was my first exposure to comics. That really stood out among the Archies and the various others.”
Keith was one of the most brilliantly creative humans I’ve ever known. A curmudgeon with a heart of gold. A generous collaborator. An old, dear friend. And, as my wife observed, “He was like a character out of a Keith Giffen story.”
Safe travels, Keith. You will be missed. pic.twitter.com/E745UeCUVk
— J.M. DeMatteis (@JMDeMatteis) October 12, 2023
Gutted to hear the passing of the legendary comic book creator Keith Giffen. He personified creativity to me in everything he did. Whether it was writing, plotting, drawing, kibitzing or creating—Keith did it like no other in the modern age. pic.twitter.com/SnisF8t36D
— Jim Lee (@JimLee) October 12, 2023