Friday, November 11, 2011

Bil Keane, You Made It All Possible

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.


  1. RIP Bill Keane.

    Family Circus? Awesome.


    Oh sweet Jebus. I am SHAKING with laughter, Empress. Good DAY.


  3. hehe...these are a riot...tough week...heavy D, bill keane and joe frazier

  4. Those are HYSTERICAL!!

    My siblings and I would fight over the Funnies in the Sunday paper and Family Circus was my favorite!!

    RIP Bill.

  5. Worst. Cartoon. In history.


    Weird. He never insisted on have my posts shut down.

    I'm feeling unloved.

  6. Oh my god - so WRONG and yet...

    I hadn't heard that he'd passed away. I agree with you - I loved them, they were part of the cartoon Age of Innocence. Also, For Better For Worse is Family Circus's bitch, IMHO.

  7. Thanks, Bibliomama: I know, I cringed, too, when I hopped over to the site, so wrong...BUT STILL.


  8. You know, I posted a photo about this yesterday on FB and NO ONE cared! I now believe my FB friends have no heart.

  9. The best part is that the Dysfunctional site did not shut down and Keane probably wasn't internet savvy enough to know you can just hide the site.

    As great as the internet is? It's also kind of a nightmare.

  10. Family Circle was also one of the first comics I read when I was a kid. I'd never heard of the dysfunctional family circle site though.

  11. What a sweet memory - thanks for sharing.

    I AM LOVING the Dysfunctional Family Circus. GENIUS.

  12. Strange, but Terry Willers, the Irish cartoonist who created the first comic strip I ever read, also died this week. His death made me remember those Sundays long ago when I fought over the comic section with my sisters. May these two talented men rest in peace!

  13. Oh I loved Family Circus and my mom will always send one to work with my SD for me ...which I hang up there or take home and put on the frig and remind me that she just might "understand" all my worries as a mom, a wife, a woman.

    The dysfunctional family circus made my day....too frickin funny!

  14. Leave it to you to give thanks, in such a sweet and funny way.

    I, for one, am glad you learned to read.


  15. I never liked comics much. I never got them. The Dysfunctional Family Circle? LOVE!

  16. Those are some seriously dysfunctional cartoons! I heard Bill Keane had passed - such a sweet comic strip....

  17. Great tribute. He said so much with so little . . .

  18. I grew up reading Family Circle and have very sweet memories of those gentle little funnies.

    Cheers and thanks to Bill Keane!


    I did not notice your new design forever. Because I've been reading in my reader and not coming to comment because I clearly SUCK.
    Anyway. That was the first cartoon I could read too! And I never understood it. LOL But I have fond memories of bugging the crap outta my parents to see what they meant.

  20. For a second I thought he actually did Dysfunctional Family Circus!

    Great tribute.

  21. How many drugs did Billy do in order to "imagine" dotted lines pointing the way?

    PS, you never visit anymore sniff, sniff.

  22. Oh, I loved LOVED Family Circus! And was sad to see that he had died.

    But these are hysterical, A!!

  23. Family Circus was the first comic I could actually UNDERSTAND as a kid. I have never seen the Dysfunctional Family Circus. Have to say, it's totally my speed!

  24. I love family circus - truly one of my fave comics of all time.

  25. I've never seen those dysfunctional ones before. So funny!

  26. I've never seen the dysfunctional ones before either! I used to love Family Circus!

  27. Oh I hadn't heard this news. I'm sad because I do believe this may have been the first cartoon I was able to read as well. It was always the first one I turned to when the Sunday paper came.


    Those dysfunctional cartoons had me spewing a bit. Sooooo funny!

  28. OMG, I have never heard of the Dysfunctional Family Circus but that first image is really creeping me out. LOL!!!

    And yes... growing up, I remember my dad would read the funnies to me and my brother. It was a nice tradition on a Sunday morning :)

  29. Heyo! I'm catching up on my reader (again...) but I really do feel like I have my gusto back! I was on vacation over a month ago and have been lazy, lazy, lazy!

    These comics were hilarious!! Thanks for sharing!



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