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Comic Strip / Snuffy Smith

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Snuffy Smith is a long-running 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 '20s with the introduction of Barney's horse Spark Plug; The strip sparked a trend for continuity-laden comics such as Toots and Casper and Tillie the Toiler, while "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 nephew. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sparkplug 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 shortly after the strip began, and his black jockey/valet Sunshine and his ostrich Rudy were written off after Barney left the big city.
  • 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
  • Deep South
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the strip's first year, Barney was taller and he had a wife (the ironically named "Sweet Woman") and a daughter. Both disappeared after a short time, and Mr. Google got more squat.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk
  • 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.