'Family Circus' Creator Bil Keane Dead at 89

Bil Keane, the genius behind one of America's most beloved comics, "Family Circus," died Tuesday at 89-years-old.

Keane died of congestive heart failure in his longtime home in Paradise Valley, A.Z.

The comic was in circulation for over 50 years and has placements in roughly 1,500 newspapers.

The one panel comic started in February 1960 and focused around four kids: Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and PJ. The comic also featured their parents as it made humorous observations from a child's perspective about life.

"He said, 'I love you' and that's what I said to him, which is a great way to go out," said Jeff Keane, son of Bil, regarding one of their last conversations, to the Associated Press.

"The great thing is Dad loved the family so much, so the fact that we all saw him, I think that gave him great comfort and made his passing easy. Luckily he didn't suffer through a lot of things,” Jeff added.

In an interview with the Associated Press in 1995, Bil said he felt the comic was successful because of its “simpleness” and “consistency.”

"It's reassuring, I think, to the American public to see the same family," said Bil.

"We are, in the comics, the last frontier of good, wholesome family humor and entertainment," Bil added. "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."

The comic creator taught himself to draw while he was in high school, and around this time, he dropped the second "L" from his first name "just to be different" the Associated Press reported.

His first comic was "Channel Chuckles" and focused on the new invention of television as people were experiencing their first trials of the machine.

Keane started the comic after he moved to Arizona in 1958, and molded his characters after his own family.

"He was just our dad. The great thing about him is he worked at home, we got to see him all the time, and we would all sit down and have dinner together. What you see in the 'Family Circus' is what we were and what we still are, just different generations,” Jeff said.

The last "Family Circus" comic was published Oct. 26.

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