Friday, December 31, 2010

Episode #154: Happy Birthday, Keith Giffen!

Keith Ian Giffen was born on November 30, 1953 at Queens, New York City. He is a comic book writer and artist. His art style has evolved over the years.

His first comic book work was drawing Sons Of The Tiger for Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu #17, October 1975. Keith is most famous for several stints on DC's Legion Of Super-Heroes and the Justice Leage titles Justice League International and Justice League Europe. I enjoyed his use of humor in the JLE title, and his characterization of Metamorpho and the Elongated Man, Ralph Dibny, two of my favorite second tier characters.

Giffen took a sabatical from comic books to work as a stroyboard artist on animated series such as, The Real Ghostbusters and Ed, Edd & Eddy.

Keith has also done comic book projects for a variety of publishers, including Hero Squared for Boom! Studios, about a guy who discovers that on an alternate Earth, he is that world's greatest superhero, and his girlfriend is his double's greatest archenemy.

Giffen did the breakdowns to two year long weekly comic book series for DC Comics, 52 and Countdown (which became Countdown To Final Crisis). Both series met their weekly deadlines without missing a single publication date. I wonder if Keith would ever want to do another year long weekly series again?

Keith will probably be remembered mostly for two runs on DC's Legion Of Super-Heroes. The first time with writer Paul Levitz stands as one of the most popular runs of Legion stories with fans. He began with Legion Of Super-Heroes #82, March 1982 and ended with Legion Of Super-Heroes #63, August 1989 (what is referred to as the Baxter series, after the higher quality paper it was printed on). His second run on the Legion was woth Legion Of Super-Heroes #1, November 1989 (volume IV, or what is called the 5 years later Legion). Giffen served as penciller and co-plotter with husband and wife writing team and Legion fans Tom and Mary Bierbaum.

In 2010, Keith finished the 12 issue mini-series The Authority: The Lost Year and is currently working on Booster Gold and Doom Patrol as of the time of this recording.

No discussion of Keith Giffen would be complete without talking about Ambush Bug, a character Giffen created and has become a foil to satirize superhero comic books. His first appearance was in DC Comics Presents #52, December 1982. Originally a villain, Ambush Bugs power is teleportation. He has made a variety of appearances in DC comics and had two mini-series.

Keith Giffen's first Superman story was All This And Kobra, Too for DC Comics Prsenets #81, May 1985, as plotter and penciller.

The first Keith Giffen Superman story featured in this episode is Caitiff: First Of The Vampires, from Action Comics #577, March 1986, published on December 19, 1985. Julius Schwartz was the editor. The cover was pencilled by Keith Giffen and inked by Bob Oksner, who also did the interior story art. Giffen als served as co-plotter, with scripter Robert Loren Fleming. The letterer was Milt Snapinn and the colorist was Gene D'Angelo. superman investigated the mysterious deaths of people in the Intensive Care Unit of a Metropolis hospital. He discovered they were victims of Caitiff, the first Vampire, who fed off the life force of those near death for his own survival. The Man of Steel also learned that he was the last of his kind, before Caitiff disappeared, beyond Superman's ability to follow him.

The next Keith Giffen Superman story of the episode is Prisoners Of Time, from Action Comics #579, May 1986, published on what would be my son's birthday four years later, February 27, 1986. Giffen pencilled the cover and the interior art. Karl Kesel inked both the cover and the story. Superman and Jimmy were snathced into the past, into the middle of a war between the Gauls and the Romans. By the end of the story, our time traveling pair helped bring the two sides together.

This next Superman story was the first one that I read. It was Burial Ground, from Action Comics #646, October 1989, published on September 5, 1989. Mike Carlin was the editor. The cover was drawn by George Perez.Keith Giffen was the co-plotter and the penciller, Roger Stern wrote the script, Dennis Janke, Bill Oakley the letterer and Glenn Whitmore the colorist. After defeating the Kryptonian artifact Eradicator, Superman had sealed it in a scrap of metal and dumped in a dep chasm is Antarctica. Superman discovered a giant, alien snail like creature, that had been dropped on the primordial Earth by a spaceship inor der to get rid of an unwanted hitchhiker. The creature awoke from its dormant state after uncounted eons to eventually swallow Superman. The Man of Steel used his heat vision to give the creature a dose of heartburn, only to ignite the methane inside the creature's body, blowing it to bits. The explosion cracked open the metal that encased the Eradicator, allowing it ti menace Superman in a future story.

The final Keith Giffen story of the episode is Sanctuary, from Superman: The Man Of Steel #15, September 1992 (Triangle # 1992: 33).Louise Simonson wrote the story, Kerry Gammil pencilled the scenes in Metropolis, while Keith Giffen pencilled the scenes in hell. The inker wsa Dennis Janke, letter was Bill Oakley and the colorist was Glenn Whitmore. This took place in the middle of the Blaze/Satanus War, when Superman and the Newstime building had been transported literally to Hell. Not only did Superman have to fight against Blaze's demon horde's he also had to protect the people who were trapped in the Newstime building from those same demons.

Next Episode: Sturat Immonen!

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