1952 - 2023
Keith Giffen was one of the most brilliantly creative humans ever to work in comics, the Jack Kirby of my generation of creators. He was 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.” So true! Safe travels, Keith. You will be missed.
- J.M. DEMATTEIS
Keith was a creative force of nature, gifted with the ability to boldly and endlessly pull his creations from a blank page as we watched in amazement. He effortlessly conjured stories from some mystical place, with razor-sharp wit that would have you smiling one moment and sock you in the gut the next. He was a loyal brother in arms who built the worlds we work in or escape to when this one is too much. Keith, we hold you in our hearts forever.
- HOWARD PORTER
Keith Giffen’s brilliance as both writer and artist is exemplified by the incredible breadth of his work over more than 45 years. That creative energy, along with his ability to move through a cascade of ideas that didn’t work until he found one that did was prized by everyone who collaborated with him. I’m grateful to have been one of those who did and would like to imagine that he’s out there, somewhere in the multiverse, creating more stories for us all.
- DAN JURGENS
I asked Keith once, “What’s the secret to your career longevity?” He said, “Figure out what you do better than anyone else and own that lane. When publishers want it, they’ll have no choice but to come to you.” The thing is, Keith didn’t own a lane. He owned the whole highway. I miss you, my friend.
- MARK WAID
Keith had the most fertile and imaginative mind in comics in my generation. It was a delight to build out the future of the DC Universe with him.
- PAUL LEVITZ
Other people think they’re creative—and the term creative is used so cheaply it put Keith’s hair on end. But Keith Giffen had more original ideas over a cup of coffee (and it had to be Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, nothing else would do; he didn’t even want to live anywhere unless a Dunkin’ Donuts was within walking distance) than most people have in their entire life.
He was absolutely bonkers, and I loved him for it. Everyone loved him for it, unless they couldn’t keep up with his lightning brain. Those who couldn’t keep up just stood there listening to him in mute fascination, wondering at the alien, mesmerizing, and disturbing creature that was Keith. He was the living embodiment of Rocket Raccoon: all prickles on the outside, all marshmallow on the inside.
He came from nothing, as most people of his generation of creators did, running through a string of completely awful jobs, all of which informed his work. Because only a man who has survived being assaulted by a feces-splattering lab monkey could come up with something like Lobo.
Keith saw my work in a fanzine, called me out of the blue to offer me a chance to audition to draw the Legion of Super-Heroes, and was surprised when my mom answered the phone with a chirpy “Colleen’s in school!” because I was 17, and Keith had no idea. He just saw work he liked and wanted to give me a chance at a job.
That’s the kind of guy Keith was.
If he liked your work, he wanted you to prosper. I can’t count the number of times Keith stood up for me on jobs that other people didn’t want me to have.
I owe much of what I have today to Keith.
We’ve been friends ever since I was that high school girl drawing Legion of Super-Heroes art in fanzines. He called me the “little sister I never wanted.” But if I had wanted another brother, Keith would have been everything I would have asked for.
Keith wasn’t as curmudgeonly as he liked people to believe. He could peel the paint off a wall with his wit. But when you got him away from the stage of a convention, he liked quiet art museums, galleries, and afternoon tea in fancy restaurants. The Keith I remember oooh’d and aaah’d over Faberge eggs, wondered at Buddhist tapestries, and delighted in 19th-century genre art.
Keith had been in poor health for some years and mostly kept that quiet. And for a while, he kept saying he was done with comics.
But a little over a year ago, he got his spark back and was talking about new projects and goals.
He always had a soft spot for comics, no matter how often comics broke his heart, like the comics business almost always does.
Now, Keith is with his wife, Anna, having his heart healed.
And we are left behind, broken, and selfishly missing him, yet happy for him that he is finally with the woman he so dearly loved.
- COLLEEN DORAN
Having a hard time finding the right words. All I know is that Keith would be annoyed by this whole thing, but if anyone truly deserved praise and appreciation from the comics industry, it would be Keith. I guess it’s a good thing he’s not here to see it.
- DAN DIDIO
Keith was a master storyteller, full of good ideas, and when he knew he was right he would fight the battle until the end. There are no more battles to fight, my friend. Rest in peace. You will be sorely missed.
- BRIAN MILLER
Andy Helfer once told me, “If you don’t like the first idea Keith gives you, wait a minute, and he’ll pitch you another one. And if you don’t like that one, wait a minute, and he’ll have another one. You don’t have to take the first idea off the top of the deck from Keith.”
Keith was bright and resourceful enough that I always took the first idea off the top of the deck.
- JOEY CAVALIERI
Keith was the youngest grumpy old man I ever met—and that was one of the reasons why I loved him. The hours, days, months, and years we spent working and playing together were some of the best in my time at DC. With the facility of a Kurtzman, Keith could pencil-sketch a full issue of JLA in an hour. As part of the Justice League crew, he was the fulcrum that balanced the rest of us, and he will be missed.
- ANDY HELFER
I’m here in New York for [New York Comic Con], but I’m also working on the third [JLI] omnibus cover, and now, looking at all these Keith Giffen characters looking at me, it feels unsurprisingly melancholy.
A wise-ass until the end. May the wings of angels fly you on your new adventure, you magnificent bastard!
- KEVIN MAGUIRE
I was gutted to hear of 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.
He possessed an incredible abundance of talent, had a fearless take on every project asked of him, and created some of the most absurd, over-the-top, and hilarious characters ever. His body of work influenced and entertained generations of creators and fans alike, and even though he had seen and done it all, he was always such a charming sweetheart of a guy in his own Keith Giffen way. His retro-nostalgic vision of a future filled with windowless buildings and omnipresent floating holographic screens made me a Legion of Super-Heroes fan for life.
It was one of the highlights of my career to collaborate with Keith on a Scooby-Doo project and watch him elevate the concept in such a fun, smart way. Truly a master of every facet of the craft of making comics and a creative dynamo like no other, he will be missed.
- JIM LEE
When I was a kid, Keith Giffen was my favorite comic book creator. It was his work on Legion of Super-Heroesand Justice League that first caught my attention, and then it was his ever-evolving art style that showed a kid like me that you could have a weird drawing style and still make good comics. I used to copy Keith’s drawings, trying to learn how he did what he did. The way Keith drew faces is still the basis for how I do it. Keith’s work on Lobo, The Heckler, Ambush Bug, and so many more cemented him as my favorite creator into my teenage years.
When I started working for DC Comics in 2010, we had a meeting in the New York offices. I nervously walked into the conference room and saw that the only seat left open was beside Keith Giffen! That Keith Giffen! Thirteen-year-old Jeff was dying of excitement inside. Keith probably just grunted at me that week. But, over the years, we began to work closely on a number of projects. The most notable of them was the weekly book Future’s End with Dan Jurgens and Brian Azzarello, and then Inferior Five, which Keith and I wrote and drew together. While the projects may not have been the most memorable of our respective bibliographies, they were, without a doubt, two of the most fun and enjoyable experiences of my life. I never took getting to work—and laugh—with Keith for granted. I never forgot that, even though he had become my friend and colleague, he was still my hero.
When Keith’s daughter called me yesterday to tell me he had passed, she told me he knew I thought of him as my “work dad.” He was that, and he was so much more. Keith’s curmudgeonly style hid a heart of gold and an endlessly restless creative spirit. He will be missed. By me and so many fans and readers.
Rest in peace, Keith, and thank you.
- JEFF LEMIRE
Art by Kevin Maguire. Characters: Garryn Bek, Stone Boy, Manga Khan, General Glory, Andromeda, Heckler, G'nort, Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes), Maxwell Lord, Ambush Bug, Lobo, L-Ron, and Keith Giffen.