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Spark Plug, 100 Years and Still Pluggin’ On

On July 17, 1922 Barney Google saved a man’s life, sort of,
and was generously rewarded with a race horse, of sorts.


Below are the first week of daily comic strips introducing Spark Plug (with Billy De Beck‘s subtitles).

July 17, 1922 – Barney’s Troubles Are Either Over or Just Beginning

July 18, 1922 – It’s Three Bucks and Out for Barney and His Plug

July 19, 1922 – Barney Finds It Hard To Keep Cool

July 20, 1922 – Barney and His Plug are Due for a Trimming

July 21, 1922 – Barney’s Got Some Speedy Plug

July 22, 1922 – Barney Sacrifices Speed for a Free Feed

A month later, to everyone’s surprise, Barney is flush after Spark Plug wins the Abadaba Handicap. Then Barney abandons Spark Plug and goes wooing. But his “Sweet Woman” spurns his attempt at reconciliation so he chases “The New Mama.” But readers wanted the duo back together, and after going through the winnings and failing in the love department Barney gets back with Sparky.


Such was the popularity of the nag that in the Fall of 1923 (September 10, 1923 for the dailies,
October 14, 1923 for the Sundays) the comic strip is retitled Barney Google and Spark Plug.


In the following decade readers were introduced to Snuffy Smith who would eventually push both Barney Google and Spark Plug out of the spotlight. Out of the spotlight but not completely out. John Rose has undertaken to bring Barney and Sparky back into the comic strip, at least on occasion.


This week is one of those times as Spark Plug returns to Barney Google and Snuffy Smith.


Barney Google and Spark Plug are © & ™ King Features Syndicate 
Hat tip to the Grand Comic Database for the comic book covers


Community Comments

#1 John Rose
@ 11:24 am

Bodacious thanks for joining in on our birthday celebration by writing this wonderful article about my favorite horse, Spark Plug! I truly appreciate it! I hope readers enjoy today’s special birthday comic strip and the week of strips to follow. Thank you again!

#2 Mark Lutton
@ 1:00 pm

Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google bet his horse would win the prize.
When the horses ran that day, Spark Plug ran the other way.
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.

Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.
Barney Google had a wife three times his size
She stood Barney for divorce
Now he’s living with his horse
Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes.

— Song by Billy May, circa 1923

#3 Larry Levine
@ 2:01 pm

Billy DeBeck’s legacy is in good hands with John Rose!

#4 John Rose
@ 11:01 am

Thank you so much for your kind words, Larry!! I truly appreciate it!

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