Monday, November 30, 2015
Happy Birthday Keith Giffen!
Giffen has been a major creative force with the Legion for the last three decades and I have appreciated all he has done for the team throughout the years. One of the things that amazes me is that Giffen has been around long enough and I have been a fan long enough to see first hand his art change over the years.
So to celebrate Giffen's birthday I thought I would quickly look at Giffen's art style over the years. And what better way to do that then to look at his rendering of one of my favorite Legionnaires, Ayla Ranzz.
Back in the earliest days on the book, Giffen had a very rounded, very polished, organic appearing style.
Everything was clean and beautiful.
There was something truly compelling and wonderful about this era. After some Janes and Staton and some rough art, Giffen brought a true vision to the book.
This is probably Giffen's prettiest era. From the rounded gleaming cityscapes to Wildfire having a sort of hood over his shoulders to the gorgeous women, Giffen shined here. And the readers agreed. This was probably the height of the Legion's popularity.
After wallowing in his prior style, it took some time to get used to this Giffen. There were certainly quirks. Extreme close-ups. Faces hidden in shadows. There were always 'grime lines' on everything, like Ayla's coat on the left. There was a more realistic take on the human form and face.
Surprisingly, this is the Giffen art I picture in my head. This is unique and brilliant. Plus, in 5YL you see Giffen's genius in layouts, stuffing the tiny 9 panel grid panels with information. This is my favorite Giffen age.
The prior era's Light Lass might be 'hot'. But this Ayla Ranzz is beautiful.
While the 5YL run was coarse, this art is outright blocky. It is borderline ugly. It definitely has the sensibilities of the 'King' Jack Kirby. And while there is an energy to these panels and a flow to the story, this is almost unfinished feel to this style.
While imitation is a high form of flattery, this is almost too much. Now I love Giffen doing layouts and someone else penciling.
While not seen too often in Legion (a couple of pages in a one 5YL issue), Giffen had another short lived overly rendered, fever-dream era which I call the 'Trencher' Giffen. This Giffen was so busy that the beauty of his art is lost.
So those are my thoughts of the ages of Giffen, a way to celebrate his birthday and his time in comics.
Which era of art is your favorite?