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Are You Awake Daddy? Bil Keane book reviews on

July 23, 2010

If you go to and read the customer reviews for cartoon collections by the guy who draws The Family Circus, Bil Keane, you will come across smart-ass reviews written in the style of English Lit majors or New York Times book reviewers. I’ve always been tickled by these, so when I came across a Bil Keane book that had no customer reviews, I decided it was time for me to flex my muscles in this obscure field of humorous writing.

Since the party-poops at removed my effort, here it is now for your edification. If the story seems vaguely familiar, I wrote this essay shortly after the Terry Schiavo incident with the Republican party in 2005.

Amazon customer review of Are You Awake, Daddy? by Bil Keane

Title:  A compelling argument for the legalization of euthanasia

An easy-to-read and insightful comic strip analysis of the intersection of modern medicine and ethics.  Daddy drives back from a bar humorously named “The Office” after having a few too many tall cold ones.  Confused by the large black dotted lines that appear on the street (ironically, they were left behind the trail of his son Billy as he followed a cat around the neighborhood), Daddy swerves suddenly and crashes into a tree.  He winds up in a coma (the scene where Dolly tugs at her father’s inert wrist with tears in her eyes is where the title comes from).  Billy is visited by the ghosts of his grandparents, who inform him that they want Daddy to come home to them, but his persistent vegetative state prevents that.

After attempting to end Daddy’s artificially supported life, preachers, congressmen, senators, and even the leader of our country intervene in a misguided attempt to prolong Daddy’s life.  Billy, who is now the man of the house, realizes that the burden of putting an end to Daddy’s misery lies on him.  Recruiting Dolly, P.J., and Jeffy to distract the doctors and authorities (P.J. starts crying in the hallway “I did a number 2,” Jeffy pulls a fire alarm, and Dolly runs around naked crying that a preacher attacked her), Billy is able to pull the plug on Daddy.  In the last page, we see the ghost of Daddy embracing the ghosts of Grandpa and Grandma, while Ida Know and Not Me happily stand by on the sidelines.

Mr. Keane once again tackles the most profound issues of contemporary American life with astonishing ease and wisdom.  The fact that this masterpiece was passed over for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Critics Award demonstrates how out of touch the New York literary establishment is with the rest of America.  How lucky we are that the Nobel Prize committee recognized Mr. Keane with their Literature Prize, confirming what the rest of the world has been asserting for years:  Bil Keane is America’s greatest man of letters.

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