Keith Giffen, Rocket Raccoon and Lobo Co-Creator, Dies at 70

The legendary writer and artist passed away of a stroke on Monday.

Keith Giffen, a legendary comic creator known for his work on Justice League International and Legion of Super-Heroes, as well as co-creating characters like Rocket Raccoon, Lobo, and Jaime Reyes / Blue Beetle, has passed away at the age of 70. Giffen reportedly suffered a stroke on Sunday, October 9th, before passing away one day later on Monday, October 10th. In accordance with his family's wishes, Giffen's Facebook page broke the news, with a statement reading:

"I told them I was sick…
Anything not to go to New York Comic Con
Keith Giffen 1952-2023
Bwah ha ha ha ha"

I told them I was sick... Anything not to go to New York Comic Con Thanx Keith Giffen 1952-2023 Bwah ha ha ha ha

Posted by Keith Giffen on Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Born in Queens, New York on November 30, 1952, Giffen first broke into comics with the text story "The Sword and The Star" in 1976's Marvel Preview #4. That same year, Giffen and Mantlo co-created the now-famous Guardians of the Galaxy member Rocket Raccoon in Marvel Preview #7. Over at DC, Giffen had a lengthy tenure writing and illustrating Legion of Super-Heroes, which included co-creating the "The Great Darkness Saga" storyline with Paul Levitz. Across the early and mid 1980s, Giffen worked on characters like Doctor Fate, Amethyst, Aquaman, Lobo (who he co-created with Roger Slifer), and Ambush Bug (who he solely created). 

"Comic books, for such a small, incestuous, inbred, little business—and I mean that in a good way—we take this job so seriously," Giffen explained in a 2000 interview with the Jack Kirby Collector. "All the time I was doing Justice League, even when it was number one and outselling everything DC had, there was not a day that went by that I was not pressured to take the humor out. "It's destroying the book." People would yank their characters out of the book. "I don't want Keith getting them. He'll make fun of them." And the deal I had with people was when they walk in the door of the embassy they're mine, when they walk out I will return them to you in the same shape they were when they came in. But some people couldn't handle the idea that Batman had a wry sense of humor, or that Beetle and Booster could be bumpkins. They totally missed the point of the book. With Ambush Bug it was basically comic book Candide; innocent, but broad. It was deconstruction of comics and inviting people to come look under the rug. Maybe pointing out things the companies didn't want you to know. Like when we did our spoof on Crisis, we told the truth: Crisis on the only Earth we're allowed to use. It didn't go over big. There were a lot of people who got their feathers ruffled. Lobo was originally meant as an indictment of the grim and gritty hero with a gun. To me they were villains who were doing the right thing for the wrong reason. But boy, so many people missed the joke."

In 1987, he, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire began their run on Justice League, which became known as the Justice League International era. The run filled DC's iconic super-team with a string of lesser-known superheroes, spawning beloved elements like Maxwell Lord, as well as the iconic "One Punch" moment. In later years, Giffen's work included being the breakdown artist on DC's 52 and Countdown to Final Crisis, and the writer on Marvel's Annihilation event. He also was involved with the first solo series for Jaime Reyes / Blue Beetle, as well as Green Arrow, Justice League 3000, Infinity Man, and Forever People. 

Our thoughts are with Giffen's family, friends, and fans at this time.