'Family Circus' Creator Bil Keane (1922-2011)

Bil Keane, a Phoenix cartoonist, started drawing Family Circus in 1960. 

The artist was born in Pennsylvania, served in the Army, met his wife (and inspiration for his "Mommy" character) in Australia, and landed in Paradise Valley just a year before he began documenting much of his family life and odd daily circumstances in Family Circus

Keane died on Tuesday. He was 89 years old. 

The long-running strip was published in multiple papers and inspired several tangents, including the  Dysfunctional Family Circus, the Nietzsche Family CircusJersey Circus, and most recently the Sheen Family Circus, starring Charlie Sheen.

None of the riffs were of Keanes doing (he often shot back cease-and-desist letters), but they were friendly reminders of the continuing influence his work had on popular culture. 

You can still spot a few of his panels up at the Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale, or on his website. Keane's son Jeff, who wrote Eggheads with his father from 1981 to 1983, is expected to take over the comic's continued production. 

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook and Twitter.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >