We have some, ahem, bodacious news to share with you this week! Beginning on Sunday, Barney Google will be making a long-awaited visit to the panels of BARNEY GOOGLE AND SNUFFY SMITH (lest we forget that “Barney Google” is half of the title).
For those of you with long memories and a taste for comics history, you’ll be well aware that Barney Google and his horse, Sparkplug, were once stars of the funny pages. But when Barney went to visit Hootin’ Holler, readers became delighted by the funny, folksy denizens of this sleepy little town, and bit by bit, Snuffy Smith and the rest of his family and neighbors settled down to stake their claim to the comic strip for good.
But folks often ask us whatever became of Barney Google — and starting next week, you’ll get your answer!
Since we’re so excited (we could hoot and holler ourselves), we decided to look at one of the colorful characters of the Smith family: little Jughaid Smith, Snuffy’s nephew.
Jughaid is, in the words of cartoonist John Rose, “a coonskin cap-wearin’ young-un [who] is high strung… His boundless enthusiasm is always getting him into mischief. He is not a good student, but he is a good ‘big brother’ to his cousin, little Tater. When it comes to personality, he’s probably a lot like his Uncle Snuffy was as a child, but he does enjoy helping his Aunt Loweezy with chores a lot more than Snuffy does!”
Which, well, we don’t know about you, but we think a rock probably helps Loweezy with the chores more than Snuffy does.
Jughaid originated with Billy deBeck, who first created BARNEY GOOGLE AND SNUFFY SMITH, under the name TAKE BARNEY GOOGLE F’RINSTANCE. Little boys with a coonskin cap who look something like Jughaid showed up in the comic as early as 1934, but the earliest use of his name that John knows of is in this strip from 1937:
He was originally more of a bit character, but his role in the comic has increased over time. During John’s tenure on the strip, he’s become one of the more major characters, and we frequently see him needling his teacher, Miss Prunelly, asking the Parson all kinds of theological questions, and fighting and flirting (although he wouldn’t admit it) with Mary Beth.
Jughaid has a very carefree existence as a child in Hootin’ Holler. His “days are spent playing marbles, catching frogs, fishing in the pond, reading comic books and playing with his best friend, Jamey. He’ll eat anything his Aunt Loweezy cooks—especially cookies!”
John talked a little bit about how he identifies with Jughaid as a character — and how their childhoods have a bit in common!
“Jughaid reminds me of a combination of my two brothers and me when we were a lot younger. As young children, we grew up in a small town in the mountains of Virginia near our family’s farm and enjoyed playing outside all day with friends, fishing and swimming in the creek. I even had a coonskin cap, although I didn’t wear it nearly as often as Jughaid!”
We’ve found some early strips featuring Jughaid by both Billy deBeck and Fred Lasswell, and then some more current comics by John Rose for you to enjoy. And we hope you’ll read BARNEY GOOGLE AND SNUFFY SMITH next week when Barney Google stops by to say hello!