I hate Family Circus
Please allow me to describe the accompanying
picture. It is an image of a
cartoon in which the cartoon's creator, Bil
Keane, has, by design, scribbled
all over the cartoon (it's part of the gag).
whole family is
hanging out in the family room; the mom is
holding P.J. and looking
out the bay window, the other three kids (Billy,
Dolly, and Jeffy,
along with Barfy the Dog and some other
disreputable canine who I am unable
to identify) are just kinda standing around, and
is saying "Who scribbled all over this cartoon?".
Of course the
three older kids, in turn, say "Not me." "Not
me." "Not me!". The
joke, and this'll kill ya, is that there's a
specter scooting out the side of the frame with a
pencil in his hand.
The specter's name, if you haven't already
noticed, is Not Me. Boy,
that Bil Keane's done it again! What a hoot!
The Family Circus is one of the lamest cartoons
of all time (along
with Prince Valiant). It isn't funny, it was
never funny, and it's
been pissing me off for years. What annoys me
most is that Bil Keane
uses the same jokes over and over and over again.
I wish I had a
dime for every time he whipped out with the "Not
Sure, he changes up the scenario but the final
joke is always the
"Who left the toys all over the floor?"
"Who spilled milk on the kitchen table?"
"Who slammed Jeffy's hand in the car door?"
The other wildly overused gag is the one where
the mom leans out the
front door and calls Billy home for dinner. The
cartoon shows the
path Billy takes home as he meanders his way all
neighborhood, hopping fences, talking to
neighbors, peeking in
bathroom windows, etc. How many times can he use
this joke and get
away with it? What you never see is the next
frame where the father
is whipping Billy's late-for-supper ass all over
the family room with
a bamboo stalk while having flashbacks from Da
My grandmother (Gramma Belle) thinks the Family
Circus is great. She
thinks it's cute. She cuts out the comic strips
and modifies them by
changing the names of the characters to match
those of her
great-grandchildren and so on. This leads me to
think that the Family
Circus is a big
hit with the octogenarian crowd. Most of them
remember any further back than a few weeks, so
it's ALWAYS cute and
ALWAYS funny, and it doesn't matter how often the
"Not Me" joke comes up.
What else? Look at the mom in this cartoon.
She's staring longingly
out the window thinking of the days when she was
single, living in
the East Village, and playing bass for the
all-girl band The Hotties.
Now she's married to this loser who is not
attractive and hasn't
changed his style for the past 30 years. She's
awesome: tall, thin,
really great mod hair, cute nose. Nothing beats
tight, red sweater/jeans outfit. She's held up
pretty well over the
years and I don't blame her for being pissed. I
also don't blame her
for popping Valiums.
Two of the greatest cartoons of all time: The
Far Side and Calvin
and Hobbes, neither of which are being produced
any longer. Why?
Because their creators (Gary Larson and Bill
didn't want to compromise the integrity of their
work and knew when
to call it quits. Bil Keane should follow suit.
So, who scribbled all over this cartoon?
It WASN'T me, but I wish it was.
--Bill Sakran has hated Family Circus since 1975.
By Bill Sakran