It was World War II that brought American cartoonist Bil Keane to Australia. He was a serviceman, stationed in Scarborough, Queensland (not far from where I now live). He met his sweetheart while here, and they married and settled in the United States. Eventually, Bil created the comic strip The Family Circus, which detailed his family life. In the late 1980s I communicated with Bil, and spoke of commonalities: living nearby where he had served, and having a family. One of my daughters was called Penelope Joy, but she asked to be called "PJ" (perhaps because it was easier to 'spell' at school!) -- and she still is called that name today.
I met Bil's son Jeff, who now carries on his Dad's newspaper strip, just a few years ago now when he came to Queensland to meet his Mother's side of the family. What a wonderfully generous man he is: in January a calendar arrived in the mail, sent by Jeff. The calendar details some of the exploits of his Family Circus, still with his Dad's gentle humour. Some find it a little too sentimental, but perhaps I see it as a reflection of where I'd sometimes like to see where we, as a society, could be. In a kinder, gentler place. Writing to Bil, having a loving daughter PJ, meeting Jeff: these are just some of the highlights of my life. Today, I have reproduced this month's cartoon that appears on Jeff's calendar. I hope you like it. Be kind to each other.