Barney Google’s Centennial Celebration Begins


John Rose has kicked off the 100th anniversary story of Barney Google and Snuffy Smith.
The celebratory story starts today and, according to John, it will run “a little over two weeks.”
That puts it at least until the June 17, 2019 centennial.


above: the first two Barney Google strips (June 17 and June 18, 1919)


Created by Billy DeBeck in 1919 Barney Google was successful, but the strip’s popularity soared with the introduction of Spark Plug and continuity.

above: the first two strips featuring Spark Plug (July 17 and July 18, 1922)


Twelve years later Barney Google was falling from the top of the heap of comic strips,
so DeBeck injected new characters into the strip.

A couple months after Al Capp’s Li’l Abner began syndication and about the time Paul Webb’s Mountain Boys appeared in Esquire magazine Snuffy Smith and Lowizie made their debut in the Barney Google comic strip. Snuffy’s debut appearance, like the earlier firsts, happened on the 17th – this time the month was November, year was 1934.

above: Snuffy Smith’s first two appearances (November 17 and November 19, 1934)


It wasn’t long before Snuffy’s character was established:

above: Snuffy described in the November 21, 1934 strip


And no, I’m not ignoring Loweezy’s debut; “Lowizie” was actually seen a couple weeks earlier:

above: “Lowizie” is introduced in the November 2, 1934 strip


And so the cast was set for a comic strip that celebrates it’s 100th year this month.


Oh, 1934 also saw Fred Laswell join the Barney Google group, first as assistant and then becoming the strip’s cartoonist. In 1998 John Rose would join the crew and take over in 2001, becoming only the third cartoonist to sign the feature in its 100 years.

[edit: Joe Musial initialed Sunday strips during World War Two.]


Now John begins the Centennial Celebration with Barney returning to Hootin’ Holler for a couple weeks.

above: the June 3, 2019 daily Barney Google and Snuffy Smith strip


Sources and further reading:

R.C.Harvey‘s excellent history of the comic strip from DeBeck through Lasswell to Rose.
I Love Comix, where most of the above strips came from, has strips from the beginning to the 1960s.
The best of John Rose’s Snuffy Smith strips can be read in my favorite format – printed book editions.




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