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Comic Strip / Snuffy Smith

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Snuffy Smith is a long-running American daily Newspaper Comic about a hillbilly community.

Created by Billy DeBeck as Take Barney Google, F'rinstance (subsequently shortened to Barney Google) and launched in 1919, the strip originally starred the eponymous character, a diminutive sportsman involved primarily in prize-fighting and horseracing, much to the chagrin of his larger, more imposing wife Lizzie Google (or "the sweet woman"). While initially it was only moderately successful, it reached mainstream popularity early in The Roaring '20s with the introduction of Barney's broken-down horse Spark Plug, further fuelling a gradually-mounting cultural interest in continuity-laden comics such as Toots and Casper and Tillie the Toiler and making "Sparky" a popular nickname for boys (including future cartoonist Charles Schulz), while a song about Barney and his "goo-goo-googly eyes" became a smash hit in 1923. Lizzie Google vanished from the strip shortly afterwards, cementing the now-single Barney's racing ventures (and navigation of '20s urban society) as its central premise. While the strip would attain immense mainstream popularity through this shift, DeBeck nonetheless opted to modify the strip's premise further in 1927 by recasting Barney and Spark Plug as intercontinental travellers as opposed to solely denizens of the racing circuit.

In response to a gradual decline in readership during the early 1930s, however, DeBeck, aided by his newfound assistant Fred Laswell, introduced the volatile hillbilly Snuffy Smith and his extended family to the strip within a 1934 storyline in which Barney travels to the rural town of "Hootin' Holler" to claim inherited property. While Snuffy's introduction successfully boosted readership, Hootin' Holler became the strip's permanent setting and Barney gradually moved Out of Focus in favor of the more popular Snuffy (and was written out of the strip entirely, save for rare cameo appearances, 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 more than six decades.

The Smith clan is:

  • Snuffy, the patriarch. A thieving moonshiner.
  • Loweezy, the matriarch. Is the actual caretaker.
  • Jughaid, the nephew. Usually seen in a coonskin cap.
  • Tater, the baby.

This strip has the distinction of having the longest continuous daily run of any American newspaper comic still appearing in print, as The Katzenjammer Kids (begun in 1897) has been in reprints since 2006 and was Sunday-only for most of its run, while Gasoline Alley (begun in 1918) started out as a Sunday-only panel.

Tropes featured include:

  • Alliterative Name
  • Anachronism Stew: The characters are usually seen listening to 1930s-era "cathedral shaped" radios.
  • Animated Adaptation: There were several:
    • First was a short-lived series produced by Columbia in 1935-36.
    • Famous Studios did a short in 1946 called Spree for All.
    • A TV series produced by King Features Television in 1962 to 1964, paired with animated versions of Beetle Bailey and Krazy Kat, with animation done by Paramount Cartoon Studios (formerly Famous Studios). In this version, Paul Frees voiced both Barney and Snuffy.
  • Appalachia: The strip's setting of Hootin' Holler is located there.
  • Artifact Title: Barney Google and Snuffy Smith was all-Snuffy, no-Barney for six decades before John Rose started to work Barney and his horse Spark Plug back in as recurring characters. While he's second in the full title, Snuffy is definitely still the main character.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A lot of characters from its early years have all but disappeared: Barney's wife divorced him around 1922 (shortly following Spark Plug's introduction), and his black jockey/valet Sunshine and his ostrich Rudy were written off after Barney left the big city to become an intercontinental traveller in 1927.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Barney 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. He has been seen more often since then.
  • Cutesy Name Town: Hootin' Holler
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the strip's first year, Barney was taller and he had a wife (Lizzie Google, ironically dubbed the "Sweet Woman" by Barney) and a daughter. Both disappeared after a short time, and Mr. Google got more squat.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk
  • Funetik Aksent: A milder example than some, but the characters still exhibit elements of this with your rendered as "yore", sure as "shore", with as "wif", can't as "cain't", etc.
  • Genre Shift: The strip originally centered on Barney's sporting endeavors, turning to a hillbilly comedy after a couple of decades.
  • Gossipy Hens: Hootin' Holler is a small town that amuses itself by talking about itself. Seen with most of the town's women, especially Low'eezy and Elviney, and men too, except they don't call it gossip.
  • Half-Witted Hillbilly: Snuffy himself qualifies — obviously uneducated, but he has his moments of cleverness.
  • 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:
    Snuffy: Consarn it, Judge, you're the one who told me to swear!
  • Name and Name: Officially, at least...
  • Never Learned to Read: Snuffy Smith has been stated to be illiterate.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Barney Google, Barney Google And Snuffy Smith