On the leap year of 1960 a marvelous event unfolded upon us, the birth of Family Circus. The syndicated comic strip created by Bil “One L’s Enough” Keane came upon the United States like an alien, gorging itself on the most lost and depraved souls spreading its infinite wisdom amongst the juvenile minds of the nation. Family Circus grew from a fat unhealthy child into a monument of moral rubbish. It could have been so different, it could have been amazing.
First off theres a couple problems with current Family Circus. For one, theres a huge amount of religious tones in the pages of it. In one example the young boy Billy imagines himself with Jesus in a supermarket. The problems with this notion are numerous and bring up a handful of questions, but do in a way remind me of my childhood. If Jesus were to shop at a superstore what would his favorite aisle be? Would he bring coupons? He would no doubt get the senior discount card for sure being over 2000 years old but then comes the question of what exactly would Jesus need to buy? Soap? Bread? Wait…of course not bread. Dammit Billy your imagination has lead us into blasphemous territory. Again.
Another problem with the comic today is the blatant use of Gremlins, the invisible imps whom the children often blame for the horrible things that befall them. “Who broke this plate Dolly?” “Not Me!” Dolly answers knowlingly afraid. Then we get a loving picture of some hideous outlined ghost monster dropping plates or peeing on the curtains. Thats a scary thought. Invisible monsters only children can see terrifying them so severely they come finally to their parents to confess what they’ve witnessed, tears in their eyes and fear in their hearts. Then the disillusioned adults ignore their pleas and punish them. It’s as if in this single thought Keane has established a social commentary on the communication between children and their parents and its caveats. He’s created a boy who cried wolf syndrome the children can never escape but unlike the boy of that story they were never in the wrong. It’s either that or he likes ghost monsters.
These problems can be remedied fairly easily. Theres another that can’t. Family Circus is in no way entertaining. I don’t need to tell you that though I mean here for example:
Alright lets examine this for a second. He’s actually got books a pencil and some notepaper out as if this is actually what he’s supposed to do. Maybe his professor wants him to examine the development of feminist traits in the comic Cathy…Probably not. He’s actually just supposed to be slacking which I can relate to. The problem is the “punchline”. I think you can literally put anything there and it will be funnier. Let’s try it.
I typed in Ralph Waldo Emmerson Quotes into Google and got this: “All diseases run into one, old age.”
I put “Mr. Ed Quotes” in there and got: “Don’t yell at me, Wilbur, I’m not your wife.”
Both of these easily beat that one up there by a longshot…and I’m not even trying. I think you could have him list off the ingrediants for a taco and it’d be more entertaining than what was chosen. This is why I’ve come up with a short list of things I’d do to make Family Circus rock. Lets go.
1. More robots. Every good comic has robots. Replace one of the children with an android who only speaks spanish. Have him sometimes kill a neighbor and everyone has a good laugh. Maybe give him a sensitive side and cover himself in poodleskin fur and baby seal down.
2. More serious topics. The dad is apparently a veteran of World War 2. Seriously. At any point he could start having fallout and screaming about Nazis. Not only is this a persistant and scary threat but it would be downright awesome. Take a tip from For Better or Worse, a comic that recently threatened to kill of one of its main characters in a fire and throw some serious fear into your readers. If you threaten to murder off one of the parents and make the children a single parent family, I promise your reader base will enter a frenzy. Frenzies are always good.
3. More drama. Give one of the characters an STD. Have one of their ex-wives show up. Just take a note from TNT that runs shows based solely on this premise. I mean has anyone watched Trust Me? That show is literally about nothing but somehow it still has enough drama to get people to sit down in front of it. It confuses me how Family Circus has made it this far without it.
4. More clowns. Family Circus is a very misleading title. There’s a family sure, but wheres the circus? I see no big tops. I see no elephants. I see no…clowns. It’s very dismal everytime I leap to the funny pages my hands drenched in sweat my lips quivering in anticipation, with a flurry tearing towards the FC to find theres no carnival folk to be found.
5. Less shoe lines. They bother me.
Alright so it’s simple enough. You give Jeffy the clap, have the dad drink himself to death reliving his warcrimes in France and bring in a robot and a couple clowns and you save this comic. As it stands it’s slowly sliding into the infinite night saluting what it once was with tears in it’s eyes waiting for the cold grasp of death. Oh and as I leave you, here’s a song to enjoy, mewithoutYou – The Fox, The Crow, And The Cookie.