32¢ Barney Google
Comic Strip Classics
Issue Date: October 1, 1995
City: Boca Rotan, FL
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Barney Google (with the “goo-goo-googly eyes,” as the popular song went) is probably the best known in a marvelous parade of characters created by Billy DeBeck. Other popular characters included the racehorse Spark Plug and hillbilly Snuffy Smith. Barney made his first appearance in a sports-oriented strip called Take Barney Google, F’rinstance which appeared in major Hearst morning papers in 1919. Although a hen-pecked family man, Barney still had a roguish sensibility.
In 1922, a wistful, knock-kneed racehorse named Spark Plug entered the scene, and the strip changed its name to Barney Google and Spark Plug. The story of a perpetual loser and his racehorse changed somewhat, as did the name of the strip, when Barney met up with the hillbilly Snuffy Smith in 1934.
Uninhibited by other cartoonists who preceded him, Billy Debeck created his own style – a sketchy, semi-realistic comic style that allowed him to create his characters in the vivid manner of Dickens. Considered to be “a cartoonist’s cartoonist,” his style influenced many other artists. Since DeBeck’s death in 1942, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith has been superbly continued by his assistant, Fred Lasswell.