Barney Google by Billy DeBeck

Billy DeBeck was an American newspaper cartoonist, famous for creating 'Barney Google and Snuffy Smith' (1919). A popular success ever since its creation, 'Barney Google and Snuffy Smith' still runs in newspapers today, 99 years after it debuted! This makes it the third longest-running comic strip of all time, after Rudolph Dirks' 'Katzenjammer Kids' (1897-2006) and Frank King's 'Gasoline Alley' (1918, also still running today!).  

Billy DeBeck studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and he went to work for magazines and newspapers like Show World, Youngstown Telegram and Gazete-Times afterwards. In 1914, he got a chance to work for the prestigious Chicago Herald, where he launched his first comic strips, 'Married Life', 'Tom Rover' and 'Haphazard Helen'.

Barney Google, by Billy DeBeck (1932)

In 1917, when the newspaper was forced out of business by the Chicago Tribune, DeBeck began working as a sports cartoonist for the Examiner. It was there that he created his famous 'Barney Google', a strip about a born loser with great difficulty in adjusting to life. Its popularity took DeBeck to New York, where he worked on the strip as a nationally syndicated sports page feature.

Parlor Bedroom and Sink, by Billy DeBeck 1927

DeBeck added the topper 'Parlor, Bedroom & Sink', and filled the cast with Barney's horse Spark Plug and eventually Snuffy Smith, who took over the leading role later on. Barney Google was immortalized in Billy Rose's hit song 'Barney Google with the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes'. When DeBeck died in 1942, the strip was continued by his assistant, Fred Lasswell. The annual comics prize, the Reuben Award, was originally named the Billy DeBeck Award when it was established in 1946. Since 1954 it carries the name 'Reuben Award', in reference to Rube Goldberg.

Barney Google and Spark Plug, by Billy DeBeck 1927

Series and books by Billy DeBeck in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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