By Lanford Beard
November 10, 2011 at 07:05 PM EST
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Family Circus creator Bil Keane made a lot of people’s mornings brighter with his low-key observations, subtle eye for humor, and appreciation for the innocence of children. Back in 1990, our own Ken Tucker called Family Circus “the most underrated comic strip in the country.” In light of his sad passing Tuesday, I looked through the cartoonist’s archives and picked out some of my favorites. See them below.

Family Circus debuted Feb. 29, 1960. “I never thought about a philosophy for the strip,” Keane commented in hindsight, “it developed gradually.”


Aaron Rapoport/Fox

NEXT: Family Circus in the ’70s

The cartoons did reference pop culture throughout the decades, but their values remained the same. “It was a different type of comic,” noted his son Jeff, “and I think that was my dad’s genius — creating something that people could really relate to and wasn’t necessarily meant to get a laugh. It was more of a warm feeling or a lump in the throat.”

Mary Schwalm/AP
Fergus Greer/Botaish Group

NEXT: Family Circus takes on the ’80s

Keane himself may have grown older, welcoming nine grandchildren along the way, but his Family was timeless. He said in 1995, “It’s reassuring, I think, to the American public to see the same family.”

Jeff Keane joined the family business years ago and is now set to carry on his father’s legacy. Here’s hoping for another 50 years.

Which Circus strips were your favorite, PopWatchers?

Read more:

Bil Keane of ‘Family Circus’ dies

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