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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 11/ 8/2010

INTRO OF THE DAY: 'Cul de Sac's' Thompson draws on the history of 'BARNEY GOOGLE'

By Michael Cavna

googlesac.jpg (click here to see enlarged image)


Who's the most important man this country ever knew?
Who's the man our presidents tell all their troubles to?
No, it isn't Mr. Bryan and it isn't Mr. Hughes;
I'm mighty proud that I'm allowed a chance to introduce:
Barney Google -- with the goo-goo-googly eyes...
-- from the song "Barney Google (Foxtrot)"


Barney Google may have been named for his "banjo" eyes, but head to toe, everything about the legendary hillbilly character and his cohorts sported a wonderfully exaggerated aesthetic.

Now, this "high bigfoot" style gets a grade-A tribute from a modern master: "Cul de Sac's" Richard Thompson.

Craig Yoe has edited a new book about Billy DeBeck's classic King Features strip titled "Barney Google: Gambling, Horse Races and High Toned Women." And Thompson was rightly drafted to write and draw a knowledgeable ode to Barney Google and his mountain gang, tracking the "bigfoot style" from such greats as "Krazy Kat's" George Herriman and "Popeye's" E.C. Segar through "Beetle Bailey's" Mort Walker, and today's "loving parodies" of Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts") and "The Simpsons."


googlefront.jpg

On his own blog, Thompson writes with a wink of his introduction: "I made it all up off the top of my head but I stand by every word."

DeBeck, of course, created "Barney Google" in 1919 as a sports strip in the Chicago Herald and Examiner. Besides the bulbous-nosed gambler Barney, the comic also introduced such characters as Snuffy Smith and the knock-kneed horse Spark Plug (for whom Charles "Sparky" Schulz was nicknamed). The strip soon entered pop culture at a time when "hillbilly humor" was in vogue.

After DeBeck's death in 1942, his longtime assistant Fred Lasswell drew the strip until his own passing in 2001. The Virginia-born John Rose -- yet another former sports artist -- is credited as the strip's current cartoonist.


[h/t: Mike Rhode]

By Michael Cavna  | November 8, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Billy DeBeck, Craig Yoe, Fred Laswell, John Rose, King Features, Richard Thompson  
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Comments

"Barney Google may have been named for his 'banjo' eyes, but head to toe, everything about the legendary hillbilly character and his cohorts sported a wonderfully exaggerated aesthetic."

Barney wasn't ever a hillbilly character, was he? I thought the strip didn't change focus to the hill folk until he traveled there on the horse-racing circuit, in the 1930s, and met Snuffy Smith. Google was in fact pretty much an urban parody character, with his gambling, boozing, tux and high hat - or so I thought. I need to read this new book, clearly, and get the character's backstory! Thanks for calling our attention to the book.

Posted by: seismic-2 | November 9, 2010 5:41 AM | Report abuse

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