updated 12:30 p.m. 29.Sep.99.PDT
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Family Circus Parody Folds Tent
by James Glave
3:00 a.m. 21.Sep.99.PDT
Barfy may have barfed for the last time.
The creator of one of the longest-running Web parodies said he may pull the plug on his Dysfunctional Family Circus site after receiving a cease-and-desist order from the company that syndicates The Family Circus comic strip.
See also: Playing the Web for Laughs
The site, a parody of The Family Circus, wrapped up its 500th edition Monday, the deadline set by King Features Syndicate in a letter sent to site creator Greg Galcik.
"I haven't had a drop of saliva in my mouth all day," said Galcik. By late Monday, he had opted to leave the parody intact although he had stopped accepting reader submissions.
On Friday, Galcik got the letter demanding that he "immediately and permanently discontinue the use of The Family Circus comic panel ... on your site on the World Wide Web."
Dysfunctional Family Circus has been running since June 1995.
Bil Keane's strip, a depiction of a 1950s-vintage American nuclear family, is carried in more than 1,500 newspapers every day.
King Features Syndicate, which could not be reached for comment, said on its Web site that Family Circus fans consider Daddy, Mommy, Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and PJ to be a "truly believable cartoon family."
Galcik, and the thousands who visit his page each day, find that hard to comprehend.
"It just lends itself to parody, it's just the saccharine wholesomeness of it," said Galcik, a 29-year-old Chicago Web developer.
Since June 1995, Galcik has invited visitors to submit their own captions for Family Circus cartoon drawings. The site attracts between 50,000 and 70,000 page views a day.
The parody captions are frequently sexual in nature, though Galcik discourages such submissions.
"It's a pity -- we strive for originality for these things, but it has gotten tougher because all the regulars have seen the strip [many times in which] 'Dolly is in bed again,'" he said.
Galick and three other editors comb through more than 1,200 caption submissions sent in every week or so, when a new strip is posted.
Supporters of the strip decried the takedown.
"What's really pathetic is not just the fact that so many people over the past five years responded to the idea of tormenting Bil Keane's dopey characters -- seeing as how The Family Circus is a blight upon the newspaper comics page comparable to Garfield or The Quigmans -- but that King Features Syndicate let this slide for nearly five years, and only now issued its cease-and-desist order," fan Paul Riddell wrote in an email.
Another devotee of the site, who identified himself as Namgubed the Merry Elf, paid tribute to singer-songwriter Don McLean to mark the site's demise.
"Bil Keane, Inc. had spoken, the DFC was broken. And the Web site I admire the most, could not accept a funny post, intended for a Bil Keane roast, the day the humor died."
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