Tag: Keith Giffen

A Few Words About Keith

A Few Words About Keith

Last night, as I write this, daughter Adriane came downstairs while I was watching a typically clever and compelling docuweird from James May. I knew from the expression on her face I was about distance myself from Mr. May’s well-honed sense of humor.

Adriane carefully informed me that my old friend Keith Giffen had died. Such an event has grown all too typical and they all hurt, but, damn, this one came right out of the blue. My editor Mr. Harrison and I were just talking about Keith on our weekly video Squadcast and I remember cutting myself short under the belief that Keith would get his due from us later. Yeah, well…

I’m going to ignore my journalism teachers and not give you the mandatory obituary routine. If you are not familiar with Giffen’s work, there’s a couple tons of it on the trade paperback racks at your favorite bookstores. I will point out that Keith co-created a many great characters and concepts, including Rocket Raccoon, Lobo, Ambush Bug, and the latest version of the Blue Beetle, Jamie Reyes, presently of motion picture fame. His Wiki page is quite good and most likely getting even better right now.

But all the bios and reflections cannot do justice to his work and his approach to storytelling. The word “unique” is an absolute term: either something is unique or its not and one thing can not be more unique than another. Keith Giffen’s work was unrelentingly unique. Keith Giffen was unique.

In all the decades I’d known him, I had never had a less-than-remarkable time. His wit, his charm and his creative courage were his and his alone. When first you encounter one of his stories your response likely would hit the high end of the vaunted Richter What-The-Fuck scale. By the time you were done with that first story, chances are you’d start looking for his other stuff.

Or it might just piss you off. Art is like that, and so was Keith. He told his story, his way, and did so brilliantly.

The first memory that escaped the attic of my brainpan was a conversation we had in 2016 at a massive party that preceded the world premiere of the first Suicide Squad movie. Dan DiDio and DC Comics threw one hell of an affair and everybody who was anybody in comics and was in the New York area at the time was there — and plenty of people flew in as well. I told Keith how much I was enjoying the work he and Dan had been doing recently and, while I was fumbling for a clever way to say “my appreciation seems to be the kiss of death” Keith kept interrupting me.

“Have you read my Scooby Apocalypse?” he asked repeatedly, cutting off my praise of his other recent work. “Well, no, I haven’t,” I admitted. “I think it will surprise you.”

It certainly did. Evidently, it also surprised the folks at Hanna-Barbera, which was and remains part of Warner Bros., as does DC Comics. Evidently, they had a hard time recognizing DC’s often brilliant reimagining of their characters — and when it comes to bringing home the animated bacon, nothing does that more consistently than Scooby-Doo. And Keith found an alien heart deep inside the property, and he ran with it. Proudly. And deservedly so.

I should add it’s become my favorite of Keith’s work. Well, his living work, at least.

Several days ago as Keith was dying from a stroke, he composed a farewell note for posting after his death. If you are about to check out of this reality, you’re going to have a hard time doing a better job than he did. His farewell was pure and complete Keith Giffen. He posthumously posted “I told them I was sick… Anything not to go to New York Comic Con, Thankx. Bwah ha ha ha ha.”

That New York Comic Con is happening right now, this very weekend, and Keith is wonderfully all over it.

That, my friends, is how to go out in class and style.

His work, of course, lives on. Along with his friendship.

Continued After the Next Page #20: Representation Matters Even in the 30th Century

Continued After the Next Page #20: Representation Matters Even in the 30th Century

As Pride Month 2022 comes to a close, I want to highlight what I feel is an often overlooked relationship in comic books. In the last couple of decades, gender and sexual identity in mainstream comic books have made great strides in diversity. I always have fond memories of the first same-sex relationship involving two superheroes that I saw in DC Comics.

The “Five Years Later” run of the Legion of Super-Heroes that started with Legion of Super-Heroes Volume 4 #1 (1989) has often been the subject of derision from fans as it represented a significant break in the history of the team. I am not sure how well received the book was at the time of publication, but it took almost thirty years for it to ever be collected. However, as a long time LSH fan, I find it to be one of the most daring, unique, and compelling version of one of my favorite super hero teams.

The initial run of this volume of the Legion was plotted and penciled by Keith Giffen with scripts by Tom and Mary Bierbaum. Within the pages of this run, particularly at the beginning, the reader is exposed to a slightly older group of familiar characters coming to grips with the reality of the political world that they live in and searching for the thing that is missing in their lives. For many, that thing is the Legion and their friends.

Lightning Lass – art by Steve Lightle

In the five years since the end of the Magic Wars, the characters of Salu Digby (Shrinking Violet or just “Vi”) and Ayla Ranzz (Lightning Lass) have suffered trauma but come through it with a love for each other that will forever remain truly special in my heart. I could go through all the details of what happened to them and how their relationship was portrayed in each individual issue of this series, but that has been done, and done well, by others [see below]. I want to focus on why this relationship means so much to me.

Shrinking Violet – art by Keith Giffen

I have wanted to write this article for some time. However, I have struggled with it as I am not confident that mine is the voice that needs to be heard. For full disclosure, I am a cis, hetero, white male. I believe that love is love and celebrate diversity in every medium and support inclusive representation in pop-culture and society as a whole. It is with that perspective that I approach this article. Representation is important. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #20: Representation Matters Even in the 30th Century”

Brainiac On Banjo #030: The Joker’s On Us

Brainiac On Banjo #030: The Joker’s On Us

Alex Ross

This Wednesday, DC Comics will be releasing the landmark 1000th issue of the longest-running comic book published in America, Detective Comics. Yup, if you look the word “landmark” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Alex Ross’s variant cover.

Go ahead. Check it out.

I’m a fan of Alex’s, both his work and his own self. But I really like this cover not only because it is a true tribute to Batman, who (not-coincidentally) turns 80 this week, but because it doesn’t have The Joker on it.

Michael Cho

Now, trust me on this one too: the real reason Detective Comics #1000 is called #1000 is not because of its linear numbering. It’s because there are 1000 different variant covers. Hey, kids! Collect them all!

No. Don’t bother. I’m sure DC will release a hardcover reprinting them. And I’m pretty sure I’ll buy it. But this week I am not ranting about the crisis of infinite variants, but, knowing me I probably will in the future.

Uh-uh. This week I’m ranting about The Joker. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #030: The Joker’s On Us”