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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 142

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at a series from the Greatest Keith Giffen Stories Ever Told list that some folks seemed to not know a lot about – the Heckler!


Plotted and penciled by Keith Giffen, with scripting duties done by Tom and Mary Bierbaum and inks by Malcolm Jones, the Heckler was a short-lived series, lasting only six issues before being canceled. However, as we are coming up on twenty years since it came out, the rights might very well be reverting back to Giffen relatively soon, so maybe he the Heckler can make a comeback!

The gist of the series is that the Heckler is a superhero parody consisting of a superhero (the Heckler, natch) who has powers similar to that of Bugs Bunny in a typical Looney Tunes cartoon (you know, malleable, able to pull items out of seemingly nowhere, great speed when necessary).

Here’s the Heckler in battle with a bad guy to give you an idea of what I’m talking about…

A later issue introduced probably my favorite villain, John Doe, whose touch…genericizes stuff!!

He comes up with a plan…he will infect the water of the city!!!

This leads to a confrontation with Doe and the gun-toting woman you see above, plus the Heckler plus a pair of thugs sent by the mob to silence John Doe (as they don’t want to be genericized, either)…

Awesome stuff.

Man, looking at Giffen’s art, it’s a real shame that he didn’t DEBUT with this style, as I think he’d get a lot more acclaim for his artwork instead of folks remembering how he USED to draw. He is such a skilled sequential artist – such great storytelling skills.

In any event, this series did not last long, but boy was it a fun ride while it lasted!!


Tom Fitzpatrick

May 23, 2010 at 5:20 am

This is a series that should have lasted a lot longer than it did.

Classic Giffen, to be sure.

Is the John Doe villain still in use to this day?

John Doe really needs to make a comeback. In Giffen’s Doom Patrol, say? That might get me to pick it up again.

Really? That was the one period of Giffen’s art that, with the exception of its use in The Heckler and Ambush Bug, I couldnt stand. It worked well for the satire/parody series, but it was just too jarring for most superhero books. I think the only “serious” character it clicked for me with was Darkseid, as it really made his “Rugged Evil Looks” stand out (and even then, the generic minions from Apokalips looked horrid).

I think the only other art I had a worse reaction to was Bill S. on New Mutants #50 (I think I remember the issue number correctly).

All these characters are Giffen & Bierbaums’, so they will never appear on Doom Patrol. DC has just the publishing rights to the Heckler, not characters’. What about Bushwack’r?
And yes, that’s my favorite Giffen art style. His Legion at that era was unique, almost European in that sense. Loved it like nothing else.

Travis Pelkie

May 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I love Heckler! It’s a great series, and I finally got all the issues in the last couple years. It’ll be great if Giff decides to do more with the character.

I have been unexpectedly shot in the head and fatally wounded.

How can you not love that?

And Giff’s art is really good here, perhaps more due to Malcolm Jones inking him, it brings out the whole thing better than, say, Trencher, which is around the same time period. Don’t get me wrong, I love Trencher too.

But Malcolm Jones passed away, didn’t he? He had inked some Sandman, and when they rereleased some of that stuff, he got to clean up some of the rushed art on (I think) issue 16 of that, but passed soon after, iirc. That’s too bad, since he was obviously a good inker.

I agree with Basara549. This style is great for comedy, awful for most anything else. It stunk on LSH.

I always thought Giffen’s art was kind of moody. It often reminds me of Jose Munoz (which is no bad thing). I’d certainly never say it was just for comedy. His art on the J M Dematteis Doctor Fate miniseries was beautiful!

Loved this series.
Would love to see a follow up on a backup ongoing in some indie book.

Loved this series. The writing, the art, -heck- even the letter pages. The art stands out the most to me. Page after page of 9 panel grids and the obsessive cumpulsion to fill each of those with as much detail and sight gags as humanly possible.

Was the Heckler creator-owned? Really? If so, nobody told the folks who slipped him into a cameo appearance in that Patton Oswalt Justice League one-shot.

Oh, here we go:

MW…: Now, Heckler is a creator owned character, correct?

KG: I’d have to check my contract, but I believe I own it again. It fell back into mine and Tom and Mary’s hands.

MW…: Okay. I was just about to ask what the arrangement you had with D.C. was – if they owned the publishing rights and you owned the character.

KG: After a certain amount of time, which has passed, then it reverts back to us. I’d have to, again, yank out the contract just to check, but I believe I own The Heckler again. Or Tom and Mary and I own The Heckler again.

MW…: Would you ever try and take a shot at it again independently?

KG: Well, if I saw life in the comic book market and thought there might be an audience out there for it, yes. But right now, I’m very hesitant about taking characters I like and throwing them out to a market place that obviously just doesn’t seem to give a damn.

Right then.

Travis Pelkie

May 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm

@DanCJ — Giff reminds you of Munoz, huh. I believe Munoz was the artist Giff swiped at some point (I never heard a date for WHEN he did this, but it might have been Ambush Bug era). I read about it many years back in a Wizard mag, and it happened several years prior to that.

@Bill Reed — DC does that a lot, right, with “creator-owned” or “creator-controlled” series. Claremont’s Sovereign Seven was, I believe, “owned” by Claremont, but used plenty of DCU cameos. Heckler is something that sounds similar, in that Giff owns the character but DC held the TM, or something like that. I think that’s what First Comics did.

It’s also why Steven Seagle can take The Crusades to somewhere else from Vertigo, but probably will never get House of Secrets collected elsewhere — he probably had the rights for the Crusades revert to him, but since DC owns the HOS name, that Vertigo series will only ever be collected by DC. So I hope that they have or will collect more of that.

That’s THE art style that comes to my mind when I think about Keith Giffen! To be, this is the best period his art ever had.

I wish he drew more…

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

That 9 panel rigid format is hard to read, IMO.


Yeah, Watchmen is tough to read… :)

Watchmen doesn’t have a rigid 9 panel format. It has a 9 panel grid that is used as the base, but Gibbons often combined the panels to make bigger panels which still enabled him to play with the format a bit.

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