Bil Keane, Family Circus, creator passes

Wry Cartoonist Created 'Family Circus'


Bil Keane was creator of "The Family Circus," the gentle, long-running comic syndicated in almost 1,500 newspapers.

Mr. Keane, who died Tuesday at age 89 at his home in Arizona, became a wry poet of the innocence of childhood, his single-panel cartoon portraying the joys and travails of growing up. Except that his characters, based on his own family, never aged at all.

The themes stayed constant for the more than half-century Mr. Keane wrote and drew the comic: The children play with their pets, track snow into the house, have tantrums, kneel for their prayers, and tire out their long-suffering, ever-affectionate mother, "Mommy."

The cartoons were more sharply observed than ha-ha funny. "I would rather have the readers react with a warm smile, a tug at the heart or a lump in the throat as they recall doing the same things in their own families," Mr. Keane once said.

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