RIP: Bil Keane
Sad times in Cartoonland. Bil Keane, the creator of the long-running comic panel, "The Family Circus", has died at the age of 89. In light of this, I will jump on the bandwagon like all the other bloggers out there, and say a few words about him.
Although I never really cared for the feature, and certainly never laughed at it, you had to admire Bil Keane. The strip was well drawn and it certainly entertained its intended audience. I'm sure almost every body's Mother or Grandmother at one time or another hung one of his strips on the 'fridge just because it reminded them of their own little darlings.
I did admire his Sunday panels where he would track a character's path through a house or a neighborhood, and I kinda liked when he would turn over the strip to his character, "Billy", and draw the strip in a childish scrawl.
Keane also produced not one, but two cartoonist offspring: His son, Jeff, who continues the strip, and the uber-talented Glen Keane, an incredible animator. Having two kids that are making a living drawing cartoons is a pretty impressive achievement all by itself. I myself am o for 3...
Let's not forget too that Keane was one of the first syndicated cartoonists to stand up to his syndicate and demand ownership of his strip. After a long legal face off, he finally did get the rights to "The Family Circus", and today, most cartoonists get a better deal. If folks like Keane and some others hadn't had the guts to stand up, that might not be the case.
One other thing: Even though his strip wasn't funny, he always gave funny interviews, and I hear he was quite the wit in person.
You know what? Now that I've thought it over, maybe I am a Bil Keane fan!
Rest in Peace, Bil, and if Saint Peter asks who spilled ink on Heaven's floor, remember to answer, "Not me!" That should get a laugh.
*Please note: The illustration here is a spoof I did many years ago for a retail chain I drew for. It makes very little sense out of context, but I didn't feel like drawing a whole new "Family Circus" tribute...