Comic Strip / Comics

Who Created the Comic Strip Family Circus?

The comic strip Family Circus has been a beloved part of the daily comics section for over 60 years. Created by Bil Keane in 1960, it has become a staple in many newspapers and has even been adapted into several animated television specials.

The Early Years

Bil Keane was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 5, 1922. He began his career as an artist at a young age, drawing cartoons for his high school newspaper. After serving in the army during World War II, he returned home and began working as a freelance cartoonist.

In 1954, Keane moved to Arizona with his wife Thelma and their five children. It was here that he began creating what would eventually become Family Circus. The strip premiered on February 29, 1960 in only 19 newspapers across the United States.

The Inspiration Behind Family Circus

Keane was inspired to create Family Circus by his own family experiences. The strip was based on the daily adventures of his wife Thelma and their children Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and PJ.

One of the most recognizable aspects of Family Circus is the dotted line that follows the children’s adventures throughout each panel. This element was inspired by Keane’s own experiences watching his children play outside and imagining them going on fantastical journeys.

The Legacy of Family Circus

Family Circus quickly became popular with readers and grew to be syndicated in over 1,500 newspapers around the world. Keane continued to write and illustrate the strip until his death in November 2011 at age 89.

Today, Family Circus is still published daily with Jeff Keane (Bil’s son) taking over as the lead artist after Bil’s passing. The strip has also been adapted into several animated television specials over the years.


In conclusion, Bil Keane’s Family Circus has become a beloved part of the comic strip world and has left a lasting legacy. Its relatable themes and heartwarming humor have made it a favorite for generations of readers.