Keith Giffen, a celebrated comedian guide artist and author who started his profession when comics have been nonetheless on the fringes of common tradition, within the Seventies, however who rode the superhero wave towards the mainstream with DC Comics’ Justice League and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, common franchises that grew to become Hollywood movies, died on Oct. 9 in Tampa, Fla. He was 70.
His daughter, Melinda Giffen Frater, stated his loss of life, in a hospital, was brought on by a stroke.
Mr. Giffen introduced new vitality, imaginative creative kinds and sly wit to Marvel characters just like the Silver Surfer, Nova and Thanos, in addition to to DC establishments like Aquaman and the Flash.
Within the Nineteen Eighties, he collaborated with the author J.M. DeMatteis and the artist Kevin Maguire on providing a contemporary tackle DC’s Justice League, subverting the normal superhero melodrama with a heavy dose of humor and reimagining the DC superhero Blue Beetle as a Mexican American teenager named Jaime Reyes. (A function movie model, starring Xolo Maridueña, was launched this yr.)
He additionally gave the trade a jolt by introducing absurdist characters that oozed his offbeat humorousness Within the Seventies, for Marvel, Mr. Giffen teamed with the comics veteran Invoice Mantlo to create Rocket Raccoon, an animal-kingdom model of a masked marauder identified for his acumen with weapons.
The character, whose title was a playful nod to the Beatles music “Rocky Raccoon,” was featured within the hit 2014 Marvel movie “Guardians of the Galaxy,” starring Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and others, in addition to in its sequels.
Working for DC within the early Nineteen Eighties, Mr. Giffen created an deliberately foolish character, Ambush Bug, as a wisecracking foil to square-jawed crusaders like Superman. Mr. Giffen later described the character as Bugs Bunny with a teleportation machine.
Much less wacky, however no much less memorable, was Lobo, a villainous interstellar bounty hunter he created within the Nineteen Eighties with Roger Slifer; Lobo developed into a preferred antihero.
“A few occasions in any given technology in a medium like comics, you get somebody who has extra concepts in a day than most of us have in a lifetime,” Paul Levitz, a buddy and collaborator who grew to become president and writer of DC, stated in a cellphone interview. “A number of the concepts have been simply loopy. Some have been loopy and great, like a gun-toting raccoon or a bounty hunter chasing individuals by way of house on a motorbike — magnificent sufficient that they are going to dwell on lengthy after him.”
This isn’t to say that Mr. Giffen himself discovered all his concepts magnificent. In a 2000 interview, he described the unique incarnation of Lobo as “one among these vile, fully unlikable buffoons” and spoke of his dismay “when the rattling factor took off.”
Ever the ironist, Mr. Giffen ultimately took playful revenge on his creation, subjecting him to parodic however commercially profitable story strains, just like the one in “Paramilitary Christmas Particular” (1991) wherein the Easter bunny hires Lobo to kill Santa Claus.
“It was to date excessive,” Mr. Giffen stated. “I despatched it in to DC simply to observe their eyeballs spin.”
Keith Ian Giffen was born on Nov. 30, 1952, in Queens, the elder of two kids of James and Rosa (Duncan) Giffen, who each served within the army throughout World Battle II. His father was later a upkeep employee, his mom a cook dinner.
The household moved to Clifton, N.J., when Keith was a baby. His daughter stated he had developed a love of comics, doodling incessantly and drawing his personal characters, by the point he turned 8 years outdated. After graduating from Passaic Valley Regional Excessive College in 1970, he vowed to make his ardour a profession, regardless of having no clue how to take action.
“I broke into comics by doing every thing fallacious,” he stated in 2000. “I used to be working as a hazardous materials handler, and I took per week off and stated, ‘Hey, I believe I’ll break into comics.’ So I simply drew up a bunch of images and slapped them collectively. I figured, let me name up the businesses and learn the way you do that.”
His portfolio piqued the curiosity of Marvel, which employed him in 1976 to work on a black-and-white story referred to as “The Sword and the Star” with Mr. Mantlo, who would turn into a frequent collaborator.
By the early Nineteen Eighties Mr. Giffen was working largely for DC, the place he teamed with Mr. Levitz in 1982 to convey new vitality to the decades-old Legion of Tremendous-Heroes sequence, about teenage superheroes within the thirtieth century. Their model grew to become DC’s second most worthwhile franchise in these years, behind Teen Titans, Mr. Levitz stated.
“Keith was terribly good at visually embodying what the long run would possibly appear like on Earth,” Mr. Levitz stated of that sequence. “In fact, an terrible lot of that future that was alleged to be a thousand years later is already right here.”
Mr. Giffen’s tempo scarcely slowed. He continued his prodigious output into his late 60s, engaged on all kinds of titles for DC, Marvel and different comics publishers, together with Valiant and Picture.
Along with his daughter, he’s survived by his sister, Daybreak Fabbricatore; his son, Kyle; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His spouse, Anna (Jonasik) Giffen, died in 2015.
Following his loss of life, social media platforms have been full of loving tributes referring to Mr. Giffen as an “icon” and a “genius.”
Mr. Giffen stated he by no means sought such approbation. “I’ve no must see my title splashed throughout the covers,” he stated in a 1989 interview. “It’s very uncommon you’ll see me at a conference. I cringe after I hear anyone known as a famous person in comics. I believe ‘comedian guide famous person’ is type of an oxymoron.”