Bil Keane, the creator of Family Circus, has died at 89, and this is why I care:
I was a kid growing up in a troubled household. We didn’t have books in the house but we did have the daily paper and I remember picking out Family Circus before I could really read.
There was something about the life on the other side of that circle that looked pretty good. For kids like me there was a map and a compass hidden in Family Circus. The parents in that comic strip really loved their children. Their home was stable. It put that image in my head and I kept it.
I’d always heard that great art will cause people to burst into tears but the only time it ever happened to me was when I was introduced to Bil Keane’s son, Jeff. As soon as I shook his hand I just started bawling my face off because I realized I had climbed through the circle.
And how I did it was by making pictures and writing stories.
I am so very sad to know Bil Keane has died. To me the Family Circus is my family. They are my soul family in the image world.
That’s why if you say a word against Family Circus to me I will slug you so hard.
Understand—I don’t care because Lynda cares, though that is a good reason. I care because someone who can have this effect on other people, through art, is someone who should be around for as long as possible. The passing of a person like that will not go unmourned.
Lynda visited Oberlin in my freshman year, and I was supremely lucky to be able to meet her. I have a vivid memory of her telling us this story, and of trying to explain it later to my boyfriend, who immediately discounted her opinion. Clearly I should make a comic about this.