By the time I got to college, I realized that what Bil Keane was offering us all a convenient target for our angst. We could all roll our eyes collectively at the antics of Jeffy and Dolly. We could sneer with contempt at the relative struggles of P.J. and little Billy. What was their life if not a sardonic comment on the state of the American dream for the rest of us.
I had forgotten that Bil Keane was the illustrator of Erma Bombeck's "Just Wait Until You Have Children Of Your Own." This guy knew what was going on. He lived through the same reality we all did, and as a parent, I began to sneak a peek in that corner of the page, after I had read everything else. It turns out that he was doing that thing that artists are encouraged to do: He wrote about what he knew. And he drew pictures. He was friends with Charles Schultz. He had a dog in his strip that was named "Barfy." Not exactly subversive, but kind of funny that no one fussed about it for fifty years. Then there's this: Apparently Billy and Zippy the Pinhead were pals.
Aloha, Bil. See you in the funny papers.