The other night at the Reuben Awards, cartoonist Lynda Barry was presented with the Milton Caniff award for her lifetime achievement because, after all, she is funk queen of the universe.
But at the NCS annual meeting where she got the award, she also met a hero of her own, Jeff Keane, the artist on Family Circus and son of the original creator, Bil Keane. Barry explains what happened on her tumblr in her own inimitable way, but the short version is that Family Circus was very important to her growing up as a child from a troubled family. UPon meeting Keane she burst into tears. And then she found out she had a guest spot in the comic.
You have heard me talk about the importance of comics for kids, and the kind of unexpected and sometimes lifesaving difference they can make— for me it was the comic “Family Circus”.
I’ve seen that world through my side of the circle for over 50 years. This weekend at the 71st annual National Cartoonist’s Society Conference, I found out that Jeff Keane inked me into life INSIDE that circle.
COMICS ARE MIRACULOUS!!! They are IMMUNE SYSTEMS! They are TRANSPORT SYSTEMS!!! They are TIME TRAVELING DEVICES!!
Jeff asked a friend of mine why I was so in love with Family Circus.
He said,“It’s not a ‘cool’ comic strip.
Dearest Jeffy K,
Know this: Love is ALWAYS cool.
Love IS always cool.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.