Monday, July 2, 2018

Bil Keane: Six Feet Under

Bil Keane is not exactly a household name.  Fans of the daily comics know his work however, as creator of the strip that would define his legacy, "The Family Circus."  The strip, which made it's debut in 1960, follows Bil and Thelma Keane as they raise their four children, Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and P.J.  As you might have surmised, the characters are loosely based on the artist's own family.

Bil Keane was born William Aloysius Keane in 1922.  His family lived in Pennsylvania, where as a schoolboy he taught himself to draw by following the style of those cartoons published in The New Yorker.  After high school and a tour with the army, Keane settled with his family in Paradise Valley, Arizona in 1959.  From there, he launched the series that he would continue to draw for more than 50 years.  Bil Keane passed of congestive heart failure on November 8, 2011.

Keane was laid to rest in Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Phoenix.  Should you decide to visit, you won't have any trouble locating the grave, as Keane's is the only above-ground monument. 

It is also notable for its decorations, the very characters he spent his lifetime perfecting.  One can't help but assume that Keane designed the sarcophagus himself, given the attention to detail his characters are given.  It offers a refreshing celebration of life, a quality not often found among other such memorials.

Before his passing his 2011, Bil passed the torch, or in this case the pen, to his son Jeff, who continues to draw "The Family Circus."

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