Next week’s Barney Google And Snuffy Smith will feature the rarely appearing title namesake character Barney Google. Barney Google was one of the original characters of the strip, but as the Snuffy Smith family gained popularity, Barney Google’s appearances faded.
John Rose, current cartoonist for the strip, explained in an interview with King Features:
Q: How long has it been since Barney last visited Hootin? Holler?
A: I?ve been working on the comic strip since 1998 (starting as an inking assistant to Fred Lasswell, before becoming the strip?s cartoonist after Lasswell?s death in 2001), and I know Barney hasn?t been in it since then. I believe his last appearance was in a Sunday comic in early 1997. So it?s been at least 15 years. Barney and Spark Plug were the stars of the strip from its beginning until the 1930s. The introduction of Snuffy Smith and his family in 1934 led to the Smiths gradually becoming the more popular characters. Barney ceased to be a major character starting in the 1950s, but he still made occasional one-shot appearances every couple years or so up until the 1990s.
Q: What inspired you to create a storyline featuring Barney?
A: I frequently do Snuffy Smith chalk talks to retirement communities and civic and corporate groups. I really enjoy getting out of the studio every so often and meeting fans of the strip. One question that I almost always get from the audience is, ?Whatever happened to Barney Google and Spark Plug?? After a recent chalk talk when I was asked that question, I thought it would be fun to bring the characters back. I approached Brendan Burford, King Features? comics editor, with the idea and he was all for it. So away we went!