Keith Giffen, Cocreator of Rocket Raccoon and Blue Beetle, Dies at 70

The writer/artist also cocreated Lobo, who Jason Momoa is rumored to play in the rebooted DC film universe

James Gunn DC Studios DCU Blue Beetle
Blue Beetle

Keith Giffen, known both as a comic book writer and artist whose characters have appeared in live-action franchises from Marvel and DC Comics, has died. He was 70 years old and had worked in comics since 1976.

Giffen was known for having a hand in the creation of characters including Lobo, Guardians of the Galaxy furry teammate Rocket Raccoon and the modern Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle. He also wrote acclaimed runs of “Justice League” and the “Legion of Super-Heroes,” as well as creating the cult fourth-wall-breaking character Ambush Bug (a decade earlier than Deadpool).

He died Sunday of a stroke, according to media reports (first reported by Bleeding Cool), but the news of his death wasn’t made public until Wednesday evening.

The comic creator often brought a wry sense of humor to his work. That included a posthumous Facebook post he’d arranged to have put up Wednesday after his death, quipping, “I told them I was sick… Anything not to go to New York Comic Con. Thanx, Keith Giffen 1952-2023,” Giffen wrote, taking a shot at the experience of attending a comic convention — New York Comic Con started Thursday. He added a trademark catchphrase from his legendary run on the Justice League, “Bwah ha ha ha ha.”

There was an outpouring of love from throughout the comic book industry, including from high-profile creators such as Brad Meltzer, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Mark Millar, Gail Simone, Mark Waid and others.

“He personified creativity to me in everything he did,” Lee wrote on social media. “Whether it was writing, plotting, drawing, kibitzing or creating — Keith did it like no other in the modern age.”

TV writer John Rogers, cocreator of “Leverage,” cocreated the Jaime Reyes identity for Blue Beetle with Giffen and artist Cully Hamner.

“I owe him more than I can say,” Rogers wrote. “He was the real deal, it was a pleasure to see inside his brilliance for the brief time we spent together.”

While Giffen did more work for DC than Marvel, both companies issued statements praising Giffen.

Comic-Con International shared its condolences, noting multiple awards he’d received over the years, including the comic book industry version of an Oscar — the Eisner Award.

The multitalented creator was one of few to both write and draw books, but also had a highly collaborative style, notably working with writer J.M. DeMatteis on a group of Justice League books. When most major DC Comics characters were being reserved for use in their own solo books, Giffen took a group of lesser-known characters and added his unique offbeat sense of humor that quickly caught on with fans. Those versions of the characters led to multiple spinoffs and later revivals.

He was also respected for his layouts, often providing quick breakdown art for other artists to finish on major books.

Giffen also worked in both TV and film, including serving as a storyboard artist on “Batman Beyond,” “Static Shock” and “Spider-Man Unlimited.” He also wrote on animated series “The Real Ghostbusters” and several Cartoon Network shows, including “Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi” and “Ed, Edd n Eddy.”

His impact could soon be felt in more upcoming film projects. Lobo has been rumored to be played in the rebooted DC film universe by Jason Momoa — rumors which Momoa himself has seemed to acknowledge.

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