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Bil Keane, The Man Behind The Family Circus, Dies

The writer and illustrator behind the long-running comic strip The Family Circus passed away yesterday.

Love it or hate it, The Family Circus was well-known for its depiction of the hardworking, nuclear American family, with mom, dad, and kids Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ, as well as assorted pets over the years. Some of the most famous recurring gags included the classic dotted-line representing a child’s path to humorously demonstrate why it takes kids forever to do anything, children mispronouncing words with hilarious effect, and a lot of kids saying the darndest things.

Running since 1960, and now in syndication, the strip was beloved by many, and was often seen in recent years as a beacon of innocence and purity in a world that had outgrown it. While the strip often invited parody and ridicule from more cynical types as being old-fashioned and outdated, legions of fans nevertheless adored it for its nostalgia and themes of traditional family values and simplicity.

Keane was good friends with (and predeceased by) fellow funny-writers Erma Bombeck and Charles M. Schulz. He was 89 when he died. If the Family Circus has taught me anything, it’s that in the afterlife, he’ll be floating invisibly above us all in a brown robe, watching over us.

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