Remembering the talented Keith Giffen

In Memoriam: Keith Giffen (1952 - 2023).

2 mins read

Hold onto your capes, folks, because the comic world just lost one of its quirkiest and most irreverent talents. Keith Giffen, the ink-slinger extraordinaire, and one-time Inkpot Award winner, has bid us adieu at the sprightly age of 70.

If there’s one thing you can say about Giffen, it’s that he never took the straight and narrow path, unless, of course, it was part of a brilliantly absurd plot twist.

Photo courtesy of DC Comics

But perhaps his most lasting legacy, or should we say the raccoons’ lasting legacy, is the creation of Rocket Raccoon. You know, that wise-cracking, trigger-happy critter who became an unexpected superstar, thanks to a little game called “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” and a blockbuster film about a certain group of cosmic misfits by the writer of “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.” The fact is that Giffen’s master comedy style inspired the likes of Zak Penn’s Avengers and Gail Simone’s Deadpool.

At DC Comics, he gave us the likes of Lobo, the cosmic bounty hunter with a personality disorder that would make the Joker seem tame. And he didn’t stop at one superhero team – oh no! Giffen reshaped the Justice League of America into a bumbling group of UN sponsored misfits, a feat that surely had Superman wondering if he’d landed in the Twilight Zone.

Outside the big two, Keith also wrote “X-O Manowar” for Valiant and “SuperPatriot” for Image, which was brilliantly retooled by Alan Moore in his tenure over Image Supreme as a deadpan Americana. His witty and satirical storytelling pushed the boundaries of the medium and earned him a dedicated following to this day.

Photos courtesy of Valiant and Image Comics

Keith Giffen wasn’t your run-of-the-mill comic artist. No, his early works were as distinctive as a fingerprint, with layouts so offbeat you’d think they’d been designed during an all-night caffeine-fueled brainstorming session. And his humor? Well, let’s just say it was an acquired taste. It endeared him to legions of fans but left detractors scratching their heads, or worse, clutching their sides in laughter.

Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics
Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics

And then came the Giffen renaissance. After a decade of testing the boundaries of the comic universe, he transformed himself with a bolder style, thicker lines, and humor so in-your-face it was practically a sitcom in sequential art form. It was like the guy found a humor-enhancing serum in his inkwell.

Photo courtesy of DC Comics

Giffen’s stories were more than just ink and words on a page; they were a bellyache of humor and a head-scratching dose of satire. Even now, his dedicated following is laughing their way through his panels.

Beyond the comics, Giffen ventured into animation, putting his storytelling talents to work at WildBrain (back when it was DIC Entertainment) and Cartoon Network. He could even make Saturday morning cartoons laugh out loud.

So, here we are, bidding adieu to the man who could make you laugh and question your sanity in the same breath. Keith Giffen’s passing is a slapstick tragedy for the comic world, but his characters and tales will keep us chortling for generations to come. We might not have superheroes to save the day, but thanks to Giffen, we’ve got something even better: one final punchline from a master of humor. And it was a doozy, Mr. Giffen, a doozy.

If, in the course of going about my satirical business,
I have somehow inadvertently given offense…
If, without meaning to, I have bruised a few tender egos…
If, quite by accident, I have injured the occasional reputation…
If, through careless innuendo, I have damaged a career…
If, by any action of my part, I have caused suffering or grief…
If, intentionally, I have cast aspersions on my betters…
If, I have unflaggingly salted the wounds of people in pain…
If, my callous disregard for the feelings of others has left a
bloody trail of littered corpses in its wake…
If, my undying malice has torn to pieces the fragile façades
concealing the twisted grotesqueries that lie just beneath the surface…
If, in fact, I have been the butcher of banality and the ultimate hacksaw
artist of all that has previously been held in sacred esteem
by the preeminent powers-that-be of the comic book industry…
…Then I’ll feel that I’ve done my job.

Keith Giffen, 1986

Erika Atayde

(she/her, they/them) ADHD, Sephardic Travesti
Comics writer, audio-editor and director of podcasts and audiodramas, and independent journalist between countries. Beyond the Daily Planet you can find me ArcbeatlePress and "Muralha da Fonte".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Lois Lane actress Phyllis Coates dies at 96   

Next Story

Beloved ‘Friends’ star Matthew Perry passes away

Latest from Comics