Barney Google

Barney Google

"Barney Google and Snuffy Smith", originally "Barney Google", is a long-running American comic strip created in 1919 by Billy De Beck. The strip inspired the popular 1923 song, "Barney Google (With the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes)," with lyrics by Billy Rose.

When the strip began, its title character, a little fellow with big eyes, was a sportsman involved in horse racing and boxing. In 1922, the strip took a huge turn in popularity with the addition of a race horse named Spark Plug, a nag who seldom raced and was typically seen almost totally covered by his horse blanket.

nuffy Smith

In 1934, an even greater change took place when Barney and the horse visited the North Carolina mountains and met a moonshiner named Snuffy Smith. The strip increasingly focused on stereotypical humor about the hillbillies of southern Appalachia, with Snuffy as the main character. Locals in the strip are extremely suspicious of any outsiders, referred to as "flatlanders," or, even worse, "revenooers" (federal revenue agents). Snuffy was so popular that his name was added to the strip's title in the late 1930s, and Barney Google himself virtually disappeared after the 1950s.

The strip first appeared in the sports section of the "Chicago Herald and Examiner" as "Take Barney Google, F'rinstance". By October 1919, the strip was syndicated by King Features and was published in newspapers across the country. Fred Lasswell, DeBeck's lifelong assistant, took over "Barney Google" in 1942. Lasswell drew the strip until his death on March 3, 2001. John Rose, who inked the strip for Lasswell, draws the comic today.

In 1963 Lasswell won both the National Cartoonist Society Humor Comic Strip Award and Reuben Award.

"Barney Google" appears in 21 countries and 11 languages. It is credited with introducing several slang phrases, including "sweet mama," "horsefeathers," "heebie-jeebies" and "hotsy-totsy" (meaning just right, perfect). In 1995, the strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative US postage stamps.

From Spark Plug to the engine

"Peanuts" artist Charles M. Schulz was known to his friends as Sparky, a nickname given to him at birth by his uncle as a diminutive of "Barney Google"'s Spark Plug. [ [ McGrath, Charles. "Good Grief!" "The New York Times Sunday Book Review", October 14, 2007.] ]

Although it is often stated that the comic strip was not the inspiration for the name of the Google search engine, a linkage is evident and can be traced in a simple fashion: Following "The Goo-Goo Song" (1920), the word "Google" was introduced in 1913 in "The Google Book", a children's book about the Google and other fanciful creatures who live in Googleland. [ [ Vickers, Vincent Cartwright. "The Google Book", 1913.] ] Thus aware of the word's appeal, DeBeck launched his comic strip six years later, and the "goo-goo-googly" lyrics in the 1923 song focused attention on the novelty of the word. When the mathematician and Columbia University professor Edward Kasner was challenged in the late 1930s to devise a name for a very large number, he asked his nine-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta, to suggest a word. The youth was obviously a reader of the comics page, as he told Kasner to use "Google" at a time when the comic strip was at a peak of popularity. Kasner agreed and in 1940 he introduced the words "googol" and "googolplex" in his book, "Mathematics and the Imagination". Milton Sirotta died in 1980. [ [,M1 Kasner, Edward and Newman, James. "Mathematics and the Imagination", Simon & Schuster, 1940.] ] [ [,M1 "Perfect Figures: The Lore of Numbers and How We Learned to Count", Macmillan, 2007.] ] This is the term that Larry Page and Sergey Brin had in mind when they named their company in 1998, but they misspelled "googol" as "google," bringing it full circle right back to Billy DeBeck. [ [ "Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase". Sterling, 2000.] ] ["Chambers Dictionary of Etymology"]



Beginning, with "Horsefeathers" (1928), Barney Hellum portrayed Barney Google in a series of live-action short films, featuring Philip Davis as Spark Plug. There were at least 11 films in the series, ending with "Slide, Sparky, Slide" (1929).


There was an animated version of Barney Google in the 1930s, produced by the Charles Mintz Screen Gems Studio. They made only four Google cartoons, two of which were released in 1935 and two in 1936.


Two live-action feature films with actor Bud Duncan portraying Snuffy Smith were made in 1942: "Private Snuffy Smith" and "Hillbilly Blitzkrieg". Cliff Nazarro appeared as Barney in "Hillbilly Blitzkrieg". [ [ Don Mark's Toonopedia] ]


In 1963-64 Paramount created 50 six-minute episodes of "Snuffy Smith and Barney Google" based on the "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith" comic strip.


In 2006, BCI Eclipse released 20 episodes of the 1963 cartoon as part of Animated All Stars 2DVD BCI 46952. [ Snuffy Smith and Barney Google] , Internet Movie Database, comment by Fun Show of Shorts, 19 November 2006, retrieved 2008-08-26]

* The Master
* Snuffy Runs the Gamut
* Pie in the Sky
* Barney's Blarney
* Barney Deals the Cars
* The Country Club Smiths
* Ain't it the Tooth
* Jughaid the Magician
* Glove thy Neighbor
* Jughaid's Jumpin' Frog
* Getting Snuffy's Goat
* Rip Van Snuffy
* Just Plain Kinfolk
* Keeping up with the Joneses
* Settin' and a-Frettin'
* Jughaid for President
* Little Red Jughaid
* My Kingdom for a Horse
* The Tourist Trap
* It's Better to Give (Christmas Show)


External links

* [ "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith"] at King Features Syndicate
* [ Barney Google entry at Toonopedia]
* [ NCS Awards]
* [ Snuffy Smith and Barney Google at IMDB]

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