SciFi.Radio regrets to announce the death of comic book artist and writer Keith Giffen. He passed away of a stroke on October 10, 2023.
Best known for his work on Justice League International and the Legion of Super-Heroes, he created or co-created many popular characters, including Ambush Bug, Rocket Raccoon, Lobo, and developed the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle. Giffen was known for his quirky characters. Borys Kit of Hollywood Reporter accurately described his sense of humor as subversive and sarcastic.” His friend and colleague Paul Levitz called him ” probably the most fertile creative mind of our generation in comics.”
Keith Giffen was born in Queens, New York on November 30, 1952, making him 69 years old at the time of his death.
Giffen was rightfully famous for the time Batman punched Guy Gardner and knocked him “extremely unconscious.” Of course, anyone who’s ever met Guy Gardner would want to punch him (including, I’m sure, a few of the Guardians of Oa), but few have struck him as well as Batman did in Justice League International #5.
One of Giffen’s most popular non-comic comic book protagonists was Lobo, who first appeared in Omega Men #3 in 1983. Lobo was intended as a parody of Marvel’s hyper-violent characters, Wolverine and Punisher, but he soon became popular in his own right. Lobo was later himself parodied by Marvel, Image, and Topps Comics.
When Newsarama asked Giffen in an interview where he studied art, Giffen replied: “The Little Falls public library. I didn’t really have any formal art training and it shows. The year I spent at the NY School of Visual Arts was a faux hippie, metaphysical nightmare and the night courses I took at the DuCret School only reinforced what I’d already pulled from the library’s books.”
Never underestimate the power of the public library.
Keith Giffen credited editors Joe Orlando and Julius Schwartz, and writers Paul Levitz, John Rogers, along with Bill Mantlo, J. M. DeMatteis, Marty Pasko, and Kevin Maguire for assisting him in his career.
Eulogy from Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen’s Friend & Collaborator
Paul Levitz said on Facebook,
“The sad news is now official: Keith Giffen has gone off to create new worlds that are beyond our living reach.
Keith was probably the most fertile creative mind of our generation in comics. He had an infinite number of ideas, pouring constantly out. Many, thankfully, never saw print as wholly insane or inappropriate. But the ones that did!
We did over 60 stories together. Many of them he made far better than they might have been with any other collaborator, because of his ideas and contributions to character moments and drama. A few we had rough times on, but I think no more than could be expected in a long relationship.
Keith was a curmudgeon by choice, an act he perfected and enjoyed. Like many artists, he didn’t lead a healthy lifestyle, and that led to tough times that he always laughed off. He was a family man when out of public view, and his soft moments came out there.
I’ll tell a couple of stories in upcoming posts, but tonight I just want to say good night to a friend who made me look better than I was.
And hugs to his kids, grandkids and great grandkids. Oh, and Anna, now that you have him back, take care of him as you always did—he was never the same after you went.”
Keith Giffen was predeceased by his wife Anna, whom he now rejoins, and is survived by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Our condolences to them. He leaves his characters and their adventures as an eternal legacy.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.