Keith Giffen, comic book maverick for DC and Marvel, dies at 70

Keith Giffen, comic book maverick for DC and Marvel, dies at 70

Keith Giffen, a renowned comic book artist and writer who began his career in the 1970s when comics were still on the margins of popular culture, but who broke into the mainstream with DC Comics’ Justice League and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy And rode the superhero wave. The star of the popular franchise, which became Hollywood movies, died on October 9 in Tampa, Florida. He was 70 years old.

His daughter, Melinda Giffen Frater, said he died in hospital of a stroke.

Mr. Giffen brought new energy, imaginative artistic style and astute intelligence magic pot Such as the Silver Surfer, Nova and Thanos, as well as DC institutions like Aquaman and the Flash.

In the 1980s, he teamed up with writer JM DeMatteis and artist Kevin Maguire to reimagine DC’s Justice League, replacing the traditional superhero melodrama with a heavy dose of humor and reimagining the DC superhero Blue Beetle as a Mexican American teenager. I imagined again. Jaime Reyes. (A feature film version starring Xolo Maridueña was released this year.)

He shocked the industry by presenting absurd characters that reflected his unique sense of humor. In the 1970s, for Marvel, Mr. Giffen teamed up with comics legend Bill Mantlo to create Rocket Raccoon, an animal-kingdom version of the masked robber known for his skill with weapons.

The character, whose name was a playful nod to the Beatles’ song “Rocky Raccoon,” was featured in the 2014 hit Marvel film “Guardians of the Galaxy,” starring Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper. And others also acted. As in its sequel.

Working for DC in the early 1980s, Mr. Giffen created the deliberately silly character, Ambush Bug, as a wisecracking foil for square-jawed crusaders like Superman. Mr. Giffen later described the character as Bugs Bunny with a teleportation device.

Less wacky, but no less memorable, was Lobo, a villainous interstellar bounty hunter he created with Roger Slifer in the 1980s; Lobo grew into a popular hero.

Paul Levitz, a friend and colleague who became DC’s president and publisher, said, “A few times in any generation in a medium like comics, you get somebody who has more ideas in a day than most of us. Are.” said in a phone interview. “Some of the ideas were absolutely crazy. Some were crazy and wonderful, like a raccoon with a gun or a bounty hunter who chases people through space on a motorcycle – so wonderful that they will live on long after that.

This does not mean that Mr. Giffen himself thought all his ideas were brilliant. one in 2000 interviewHe described the original incarnation of Lobo as “one of these despicable, completely unlikable clowns” and talked about his disappointment “when the damn thing came to light.”

Ever the satirist, Mr. Giffen eventually took playful revenge on his creation, subjecting him to humorous but commercially successful storytelling, such as “Paramilitary Christmas Special” (1991) in which the Easter Bunny hires Lobo to kill Santa Claus.

“It was by far the top,” Mr Giffen said. “I sent it to DC just to watch their eyeballs roll.”

Mr. Giffen in an undated photo. He once said, “I came into comics doing everything wrong.”Credit…DC

Keith Ian Giffen was born on November 30, 1952 in Queens, the elder of two children to James and Rosa (Duncan) Giffen, both of whom served in the Army during World War II. His father was later a maintenance worker, his mother a cook.

The family moved to Clifton, NJ when Keith was a child. His daughter said that by the time he turned 8, he had become interested in comics, constantly doodling and drawing his own characters. After graduating from Passaic Valley Regional High School in 1970, he vowed to make his passion a career, even though he had no idea how to do so.

He said in 2000, “I got into comics by doing everything wrong.” So I just made a bunch of pictures and linked them together. I thought, I should call the companies and find out how you do it.

His portfolio piqued the interest of Marvel, who hired him in 1976 to work on a black-and-white story called “The Sword and the Star” with Mr. Mantlo, who became his frequent collaborator.

By the early 1980s Mr. Giffen was working mostly for DC, where he teamed up with Mr. Levitz in 1982 to bring new energy to the decades-old Legion of Super-Heroes series about 30th-century teenage superheroes. Mr. Levitz said that his version became DC’s second-most profitable franchise in those years, behind the Teen Titans.

Mr. Levitz said of that series, “Keith was exceptionally good at portraying what the future might look like on Earth.” “Certainly, an awful part of that future that was supposed to happen a thousand years from now is already here.”

Mr. Giffen’s pace almost slowed down. He continued his prodigious output in the late ’60s, working on a variety of titles for DC, Marvel, and other comics publishers including Valiant and Image.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his sister, Dawn Fabricator; his son, Kyle; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, Anna (Jonasik) Giffen, died in 2015.

Following his death, social media platforms were flooded with loving tributes to Mr Giffen, referring to him as an “icon” and a “genius”.

Mr Giffen said he never sought such approval. “I don’t need to see my name printed on the cover,” he said. 1989 interview, “It’s very rare that you’ll see me at a conference. I cringe when I hear someone referred to as a superstar in comics. I think ‘comic book superstar’ is kind of an oxymoron.”

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