Regular readers of this blog might know that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “The Family Circus,” the longtime newspaper comic strip — panel, actually — that presented the adventures of a typical American suburban family haunted by the ghosts of dead grandparents and phantoms called “Not Me” and “Ida Know.”
But today, in the wake of the passing of Bil Keane, creator of the comics page fixture, respect must be paid.
Keane started the cartoon in February 1960, according to the Associated Press obit for the man, who died Tuesday at age 89 at his Arizona home.
Keane was part of a generation of artists, including the creators of “Beetle Bailey” and “Hi and Lois,” who turned the mid-20th century American experience — family life, child-raising, the foibles of work (and in Beetle’s case, the peacetime military) into five-days-a-week chuckles.
As much as I love “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side,” the creators of those beloved strips couldn’t touch Keane for longevity. Although Keane had in recent years passed the strip along to his son, Jeff — immortalized as Jeffy — Keane cranked out the daily panel for decades.
Somewhere tonight, Barfy and Sam are missing their master, although Jeff Keane can probably be assured that his father will still be hanging around, in spectral form, looking over his shoulder with an amused expression, as long as the panel appears.