Comic Collection Review: The Family Circus 1960-61 by Bil Keane


You know that sickeningly sweet comic of wholesome archaic family values that you see in the paper these days?  This is not it.  This is what it once was, a great family comic done in a original format and hilariously funny.

This collection captures the Family Circus from it’s very beginning, back when it was called “The Family Circle,” and the innovative marketing and creative humor which made the strip such a huge success.

We have 3 of the 4 children which will eventually populate this comic as well as the mother and father in much more predominant roles.  It is by no means a cutting edge comic, but during this time, it was very insightful and very funny.

During this time, Bil Keane actually had the kids which would make their way into the comics and the hijinks that they got up to played perfectly into the mind of the budding cartoonist and made great material for the strip.  As the years went on, the comic would remain funny and relevant for another 2 decades, but eventually, like all comics, it falls into the routine of running gags and panders to the nostalgia of older readers and fails to innovate.

The comic is now drawn by Jeff Keane, one of the original kids from this collection and is just an imitation of his father’s work.  It can still be funny at times, but it has long ago given way to sentiment.  It is now one of the dreaded “Zombie Strips” which has outlived it’s creator.

It is a difficult thing to create, write and draw a comic on a daily basis and many cartoonists are actually made up of teams of writers and artists which make it possible, Bil Keane was one of the comic creators at the time who went it alone for a long time until finally having his son come in as assistant and finally take over.

If you want to see what this comic was in it’s prime you can check it out in this collection.  You can get it off Amazon here:

This collection is a great read and deserves a place in the Official Root Beer Party Comic Archives as well as volume 2 which is also available. I do not think there are any plans to continue publishing the complete series beyond this point though.  Family Circus was a really good strip once upon a time and innovative in it’s presentation and marketing.  I would highly recommend this collection to any serious comic collector.  Until next time True Believers,  may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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