comic strip"Barnaby" by Crockett Johnson(best known today for his children's books, such as " Harold and the Purple Crayon") featured an almost cherubic-looking five-year-old and his far-from-cherubic fairy godfather, Mr. O'Malley, a short, cigar-smoking man with four tiny wings. Barnaby got in a fair number of scrapes, but most of them were either of Mr. O'Malley's making or resulted in embarrassment of some sort for the rather clumsy fairy godfather. Mr. O'Malley was a member of the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men's Chowder & Marching Society.
Barnaby's parents denied that Mr. O'Malley was real and took Barnaby to a number of
child psychologists. They continued this denial even when Mr. O'Malley was seen flying past their picture window, when he walked into their living room, and even after Mr. O'Malley was elected their representative to Congress.
The strip ended when Barnaby finally reached his sixth birthday, the magical point beyond which he could no longer have a fairy godfather. With much regret, Mr. O'Malley left, and so (after a short-lived attempt in the 1960s to revive the strip by redoing the original stories) did Johnson, to pursue other interests.
"Barnaby" was primarily a
daily strip, though there was a short lived Sunday stripwritten by Ted Ferro and drawn by Jack Morley, in the mid-1940s, which retold the early daily stories. The daily began 20 April 1942. Crockett Johnson turned the strip over to Jack Morley some time in 1946, but returned to write the final story, which ended 2 February 1952. The strip was briefly revived, with adaptations of the early stories minus their World War IIreferences, from 24 October 1960to 14 April 1962. It has been reported that these strips were redrawn in Crockett Johnson's style by Warren Sattler.
"Barnaby" received much critical praise when it first appeared, and has been reprinted in "Barnaby Quarterly" (three issues, 1940s), by
Henry Holt and Company(two hardback books, with strips redrawn), Dover books (reprinting the first hardback, 1960s), Ballantine Books(six paperbacks, 1980s), and in " Comics Revue" magazine. These reprints still command high prices from used book sellers.
A 1946 stage play heavily based on the comic strip ran in several East Coast cities, drawing attention mainly from a scene in which O'Malley flew over the audience tossing out leaflets urging support for his run for Congress. Producer--Barney Josephson; Script--Jerome Choderov; O'Malley--
J. M. Kerrigan; Barnaby-- Thomas Wm. Hamilton; Jane--Iris Mann; McSnoyd (leprechaun)-- Royal Dano.
Key: Q1 - Q3 = "Barnaby Quarterly"; B1 - B2 = Holt hardbacks and their reprints; BB1 - BB6 = Ballantine Books; S = Sunday strip, 60 - 62 = 1960 - 62 version; CR = "Comics Revue"
*1. Mr. O'Mally, Q1, B1, BB1, S, 60, CR
*2. Blackout, BB1
*3. Spies, BB1
*4. Ogre, Q1, BB1
*5. Psychologist, Q1, B1, BB1, 60, CR
*6. Air Raid Warden, B1, BB1
*7. McSnoyd, Q2, B1, BB1
*8. Scrap Drive, Q2, B1, BB1
*9. Jane, Q2, B1, BB2, 60, CR
*10. Gorgon, Q2, B1, BB2, S, 61, CR::1943
*11. Gus, Q3, B1, BB2, S, 61, CR
*12. The Hot Coffee Ring, Q3, B1, BB2, 61, CR
*13. Quartet, Q3, B2, BB2
*14. Garden, B2, BB2, 61, CR
*15. Lion, B2, BB2, 61, CR
*16. Giant, B2, BB2, 61, CR
*17. Gorgon's Father, B2, BB2, 61, CR
*18. Kiddie Camp, BB2
*19. O'Malley for Congress, B2, BB3
*20. Investigating Santa, BB3::1944
*21. In Training, BB3
*22. Washington, BB3
*23. Book on Pixies, BB3, 61, CR
*24. Pop's Business, BB4, 61, CR
*25. Pirate Treasure, BB4
*26. Election 1944, BB4
*27. Thanksgiving, BB4
*28. Ermine Hunters, BB4::1945
*29. Soap Salesman, BB5
*30. Wizard of Wall Street, BB5, 62, CR
*31. Witch, BB5
*32. Aunt Minerva, BB5
*33. Thanksgiving Dinner, BB6
*34. Movie, BB6:::Crockett Johnson leaves the strip
*35. (Lectures), BB6
*36. (Refrigerator Thief), BB6
*37. (Baseball), BB6:::miscellaneous stories, not by Johnson, none reprinted, 1945 - 1951.::1952
*Final Story: The Birthday, CR
The information in this article comes directly from the original sources mentioned in the article.
Philip Nel, [http://www.k-state.edu/english/nelp/purple/books/cartoons.html Crockett Johnson Homepage: Cartoon Books (Barnaby and Barkis)]
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