CCI: Spotlight on Keith Giffen

Keith Giffen greeted his fans in his normal understated tone at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Though the room was packed with fans of the artist/writer, Giffen himself downplayed his popularity.

"I bore easily, and nothing bores me more than myself," he told the audience. "I think the core of my creativity comes from drinking in the morning."

Giffen, joined by DC editor Jann Jones on the panel, opened it up to questions from the crowd.

Two favorites came up early: Trencher and the Heckler.

"There is not a chance Trencher will ever appear in another comic book," Giffen said. "I've moved on. The character doesn't interest me anymore. Never say never, but...never."

The Heckler got a slightly more positive answer.

"If I leave the Heckler alone long enough, DC will have to give him back," he said.

A fan thanked Giffen for his work on "Justice League of America," calling the book "revolutionary."

Again, Giffen downplayed his own talent.

"It didn't feel revolutionary at all - it just turned out different," he said. "We were more interested in the characters without the mask than with the mask. There was a faction at DC who believed we should take the humor out of the book."

If Giffen wasn't going to talk himself up, then Jones would.

"People down the hall from me know when I get the pages (to "Ambush Bug: Year None")." Jones said. "I have two giggles. Ambush Bug gets the (biggest) laugh."

A fan mentioned Giffen's column he writes for Comic Book Resources, "Unfortunate Confluence of Words," and asked Giffen why he felt he had the "ability to speak openly" when he writes for the site, like when he calls out artists for being late on deadlines.

"It's not such an 'ability'...I'm not doing anything different than other creators. They think it, I say it," Giffen said. "It's a monthly business, if you can't do it, get out of the way."

"Meanwhile, there are artists - Ethan Van Sciver, for instance, tells (editors) up front, 'This is the amount of work I can do.' Late books are a real good way to tell people, 'Don't buy my stuff.'"

A fan asked what comics Giffen is reading these days. He said he flips through all the comp comics DC sends him, but didn't mention anything by name that he was really reading.

Another fan asked if Giffen had seen "The Dark Knight," and what he thought of it.

"No. I'm not going to (see it)," he said. "The last thing I want to do after writing comics all day is go to the movies and see more comics."

A fan asked who his favorite inkers were. Giffen joked that he could probably more easily mention the inkers he has a problem with over inkers he likes.

"Al Gordon has done me good," Giffen said. "Any inker that follows me and adds something. Most inkers are pretty conscientious."

A fan asked him how he broke into comics.

"I backed into the business like a moron," Giffen said. "It was either the comic book business or a bell tower with a high-profile rifle."

Giffen talked about the huge Legion of Superheroes poster he did, and the toll it took on him.

"(The poster) was a labor of love. I felt the Legion... the first time I looked at it, I just said, 'I can't do this anymore.'" Giffen said about leaving the title after finishing the poster. "It was oversaturation. My head wasn't into it anymore."

Giffen was asked about "52" and he told the audience that he had a ball doing the breakdowns, but the series was cursed by an impossible schedule.

"'52' was a series, in hindsight, it was a series of really good ideas that never should have happened. Then they said, 'Let's do it in real time!'"

A fan commended Giffen on the time he blew up earth in a comic. The fan said that there were about three different earth explosions in comics at the time, and Giffen's was the only one that really moved him.

"You liked that? You're easily impressed," Giffen laughed. "At the time, DC was pissed at me, and I was pissed at them. When I blew up the moon, that was a plot point. When I blew up earth? That was a temper tantrum."

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