- - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family Circus cartoonist, Bil Keane, dies at 89

Bil Keane, the cartoonist whose “Family Circus” mixed humor with traditional family values, entertaining readers for a half-century, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Claudia Smith, a spokeswoman for the comic distributor King Features Syndicate, said no other details were immediately available.

Mr. Keane began drawing the one-panel cartoon featuring Billy, Jeffy, Dolly, P.J. and their parents in February 1960, and it is now featured in newspapers around the country.

Mr. Keane said in a 1995 interview with the Associated Press that the cartoon endured because of its consistency and simplicity.

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“It’s reassuring, I think, to the American public to see the same family,” he said.

Although Keane kept the strip current with references to pop culture movies and songs, the context of his comic was timeless. The ghostlike gremlins Ida Know and Not Me, who got blamed for household accidents, were staples of the strip. The family’s pets were dogs Barfy and Sam, and the cat, Kittycat.

“We are, in the comics, the last frontier of good, wholesome family humor and entertainment,” Keane said. “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.”

Keith Richards‘ memoir wins Mailer biography prize

On a night he was honored for his way with words, Keith Richards clearly was winging it.

“This is one for the books, if you get my drift — you hacks,” the 67-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist joked Tuesday as he accepted the Mailer Prize for distinguished biography, a prize earned by his million-selling memoir “Life.”

Wearing tinted glasses, a long scarf around his neck and a wide red band around his sprawl of salt-and-pepper hair, Mr. Richards stood before hundreds dressed in suits and gowns at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan and loosened up as if presiding over a celebrity roast. He chuckled. He swore. He reasoned that since he had been writing — songs — since age 16, his appearance at a literary event was not a total “intrusion.”

It had been an evening of earnest speeches about the importance of writing and education, about the disparity of wealth and the lasting lessons of the Holocaust, the latter point articulated by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, winner of the Mailer Prize for lifetime achievement.

“You’ve heard from some incredible people about some serious stuff,” Mr. Richards acknowledged, before bringing the subject to his own demons, his longtime heroin addiction. “The only serious stuff I’m interested in I’ve given up.”

The Mailer awards are named for Norman Mailer, who died in 2007, and are sponsored by the Norman Mailer Center and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, based in his longtime home of Provincetown, Mass. Previous recipients of Mailer awards, now in their third year, include Nobel laureates Toni Morrison and Orhan Pamuk and Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner.

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