is a newspaper comic about a hillbilly community. It originally began in 1919 as Barney Google
, about a diminutive sportsman involved primarily in horse races. The strip reached mainstream popularity in The Roaring Twenties
with the introduction of Barney's horse Spark Plug; "Sparky" became a popular nickname for boys (including future cartoonist Charles Schulz
), and a song about the title character and his "goo-goo-googly eyes" became a smash hit in 1923.
Once the Smith clan was introduced in the mid-1930s, however, Barney moved Out of Focus
and was eventually written out of the strip entirely in favor of the more-popular Smith around 1954. The official name of the strip remains Barney Google and Snuffy Smith
, even though the former character hasn't been a regular for 60 years.
The Smith clan is:
- Snuffy, the patriarch. A thieving moonshiner.
- Loweezy, the matriarch. Is the actual caretaker.
- Jughaid, the oldest son. Usually seen in a coonskin cap.
- Tater, the baby.
Has the distinction of being the oldest currently-running daily comic in newspaper print in the U.S.
, as The Katzenjammer Kids
(running from 1897) runs only on Sundays, while Gasoline Alley
(begun in 1918) ran originally as a Sunday-only panel.
Tropes featured include:
- Alliterative Name
- Anachronism Stew: The characters are usually seen listening to 1930's-era "cathedral shaped" radios.
- Artifact Title: Barney Google and Snuffy Smith has been all-Snuffy, no-Barney for six decades.
- Commuting on a Bus: Barney puts in a very occasional reappearance, though. He appeared for a week in 2012, after having not been seen for fifteen years; this was lampshaded by the sheriff asking him if he was an Internet entrepreneur.
- Cutesy Name Town: Hootin' Holler
- Deep South
- Eccentric Townsfolk
- Genre Shift: The strip originally centered on Barney's sporting endeavors, turning to a hillbilly comedy after a couple of decades.
- Literal-Minded: In one comic, Snuffy lands a Precision F-Strike when asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then lampshades this trope after being reprimanded:
: Consarn it
, Judge, you're the one who told me to swear!
- Name and Name: Officially, at least...
- Preacher Man: Parson Tuttle
- The Sheriff: Sheriff Tait is one of the strip's regular characters.
- Shout-Out: Google was mentioned when Barney reappeared in 2012, as noted above.
- World War II: Snuffy was featured serving in the Army during the conflict, which was a turning point in Barney becoming more and more of a secondary character.