Thursday, November 10, 2011

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...

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Blogger Mykal Banta said...

Amen. I loved Family Circle and, as a kid, thought it an incredibly accurate and heartfelt reflection of family. Also, I thought it very funny. RIP, Bill.

November 10, 2011 at 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was watching the family circus xmas special and noticed that marty taras was one of the animators that worked on it.

man, how i love his work. both his animation, and his comic book work. the great thing about his animation was that not only was he always 100% on model at all times, but his animation had a very beautiful fluid movement to it.


November 13, 2011 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Bill White said...

eeteed- That IS a nice special. Funny it doesn't get any airtime nowadays. It works even if you are unfamiliar with the characters.

Someday I will tell all of you out there about one of my very first freelance jobs- Inking a 20+ year-old Marty Taras (sp?) Baby Huey story! His pencils were gorgeous beyond belief- They looked like beautiful animator's clean ups, and one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't make a copy of his pencils before I destroyed them with my inks.

Actually, that's the whole story. No need to do a post on it. Maybe, if anyone is interested, I'll post a Baby Huey story I pencilled in the 90's. Anyone interested? I thought not.

Mykal- It's Family CIRCUS, not CIRCLE! You call yourself a cartoon geek!

Actually, for all of you out there that are unaware, Mykal IS one of the premiere cartoon geeks out there, and his blog is worth a regular visit! I wish he posted daily!

November 13, 2011 at 8:27 PM  
Blogger Mykal Banta said...

Bill: I know, I know - I hang my head in shame. I've made that same error for about thirty years. It's just coded in my head wrong.

November 13, 2011 at 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it was originally called the family circle.


November 13, 2011 at 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can't imagine the thrill of getting to the work of marty taras.

would indeed love to see your baby huey story. was it connected to the movie?


November 14, 2011 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger Mykal Banta said...

"it was originally called the family circle."

Jeez, I wish I could claim I knew that! It would make me look so smart (but I didn't). Thanks for the cool info, eeteed!

November 14, 2011 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're welcome, mykal.

family circle magazine complained, and that's why the name got changed to family circus.


November 14, 2011 at 5:19 PM  

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