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Cartoonists react to the passing of Bil Keane

From Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis:

I was lucky enough to spend time with him on a couple of occasions, even interview him at his house for the Charles Schulz Museum. When I was there, we talked about the parodies I did of the Family Circus. He told me he didn’t mind them at all. “As long as they’re funny,” he added. “Just be funny.”

It was during that visit that he told me about his USO-sponsored tour of Vietnam, and I remember thinking to myself how much I would like to do something like that. And sure enough (with the help of his son Jeff), I was able to go on such a tour a few years later in Iraq and Afghanistan.

MAD Mag cartoonist Tom Richmond:

Knowing that “The Family Circus” was a very sweet and gentle strip, I mentioned I was surprised they didn’t have an emcee with a little more of a sharp-tongued approach.

“Just wait. You haven’t seen Bil emcee yet,” they replied.

I sure hadn’t. I was laughing so hard throughout the awards I barely recall who won what. To say Bil Keane was only quick-witted is like saying Olympic superstar Usian Bolt is just “sort-of fast”. He was one of the funniest guys I’d ever met. Anna and I shared a shuttle with he and his wife Thel from the airport to the site of the 2002 Reubens in Cancun, and enjoyed their company and stories of how they met and about their wonderful family. One of the things we talked about was Hawai’i, where Anna and I were planning a trip. Bil told us about a hotel he and Thel always stayed at on Waikiki, and when Anna and I visited Honolulu we spend a few nights in that same hotel. Upon check in, the bellman asked what I did for a living as he was checking in our bags. When I told him I was a cartoonist, he said they had a regular guest who was a cartoonist they all knew and thought was a great guy… that was, of course, Bil Keane.

A touching tribute by Lynda Barry:

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

Make sure you watch the video.

King Features, who has syndicated the feature since its launch in 1960, has dedicated their homepage to Bil. Unfortunately due to the amount of traffic it’s down.

Kelly McNutt:

I was fortunate enough to have met Mr. Keane in 2009 at the Reuben Awards banquet. Michael Jantze introduced me to him and I met a very warm, friendly man with a ready smile, who – even though he had many very well-known people waiting to say hello and ask how he did – had time to chat with me for a moment. The Family Circus continues to be a great introduction for children to the world of comic strips now as it was for me as a child, and I count myself fortunate to have met the man behind the pen.

Sandra Bell-Lundy:

Bil Keane, creator of “The Family Circus” passed away on Tuesday. He was 89. I didn’t know Mr. Keane personally but I attended a Reubens Awards ceremony one year when he was the emcee and he was SO funny! I remember thinking how different his humour style was in person compared to the warm, gentle humour of his comic feature. He was a huge talent. My deepest sympathies to the Keane family.

Mike Lynch has posted photos and scans from NCS material featuring Bil.

I’ll keep this posted as more tributes are posted.

Community Comments

#1 MJ (Michael Pohrer
November/9/2011
@ 7:21 pm

Oh Wow, Bil was a fellow CAPS Member and I am saddened to hear of this.

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