This week, the creator of the cartoon Family Circus, Bil Keane, passed away. He was 89 years old.
Bil Keane was a self-taught cartoonist. His original series, Family Circus, debuted in 1960 and was syndicated in over 1,500 newspapers. He also ran with some big dogs: Charles Schulz, Erma Bombeck, Dilbert creator Scott Adams.
Most important for me, Family Circus was the first comic strip that I was able to read for myself.
Temptingly eye catching, Family Circus was a clear, boldly outlined circle, with just one scene taking place, and a one or two sentence punch line below.
What could be easier and more attractive to a child first learning to read?
There were some larger paneled strips, too. Those usually had the famous dotted line walks that Jeffy would take with his dog, Barfy. I loved that name, Barfy.
Still makes me laugh.
Bil Keane made it possible for a small child to read the funny papers themselves: a pretty grown up feeling thing to do.
Know what else Bil Keane made possible?
The Dysfunctional Family Circus!
These comics are from the now disbanded website, "Dysfunctional Family Circus." In 1999, Mr. Keane insisted that the website be shut down.
But that was in 1999, the sweet and wonderful Mr Keane could not yet imagine how on the internet, Billy and Dolly live forever.
Stoned or not.
**Rest in Peace, Bil Keane. This woman here remembers how you helped her feel so proud when she was able to sound out your cartoons in the Sunday Paper. I just wanted to say Thank You.