Family Circle creator Bil Keane, whose single-panel cartoons have appeared in newspapers across the country for some 50 years, died yesterday. He was 89. The AP recounts a 1995 conversation with Keane, in which he attributed his comic's staying power to its simplicity and consistency. "It's reassuring, I think, to the American public to see the same family"—in his case, Billy, Jeffy, Dolly, PJ, and their parents (wife Thelma was the inspiration for "Mommy," and her spitting image, notes the AP).
The comic's other signatures include family pets Barfy and Sam (both dogs) and Kittycat, along with the ghost-like "Ida Know" and "Not Me," who bore much of the blame for accidents around the house. But above all, it was a comic defined by its wholesomeness. "We are the last frontier of good family humor," Keane said. "On radio and television, magazines and the movies, you can't tell what you're going to get. When you look at the comic page, you can usually depend on something acceptable by the entire family." Said friend/Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, "We share a care for the same type of humor. We're both family men with children and look with great fondness at our families." (Read more obituary stories.)