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Billy DeBeck
April 15, 1890 - November 11, 1942
Odd Trivia and such

Billy DeBeck - Barney Google and his Faithful Nag - 1923 King Features
Billy DeBeck was born in Chicago and attended The Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Fellow students at the time were Frank Willard, Ralph B. Fuller, and Frank King

Created the famous strip about the original born loser, "Barney Google" which first appeared in 1919, in the Chicago Herald and Examiner, while on staff there, along with Elzie Crisler Segar, who eventually penned Popeye.

Barney Google was a sports man, first and foremost and an avid horse racing and boxing fan. His horse named Spark Plug, or "Sparky" joined the strip in 1922. The horse became so popular, that many children of the era adopted the nick-name, most notably, Charles "Sparky" Shultz who went on to pen Peanuts.

In 1934, DeBeck sent Barney Google on a trip to North Carolina, where he was shot at and soon made friends with local hillbilly, Snuffy Smith. Snuffy became such a regular, that the comic was eventually renamed as Barney Google and Snuffy Smith.

Barney Google was lettered in the 1930's by Fred Laswell, who went on to ink and author the long-running Snuffy Smith strip.

The Reuben Award (or "Barney" as it is often called) from the National Cartoonists Society was originally called the Billy DeBeck Memorial Award.

Member of the Freemasons Society
North Shore Lodge, Chicago

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Odd Trivia and such
The James Branch Cabell Library at Virginia Commonwealth University houses Billy DeBeck's personal library and oddly enough, the door to his studio apartment, which features an original painting of Barney Google and Sparkplug.

DeBeck introduced the slang terms ''horse feathers'', ''heebie-jeebies'' and "hotsy-totsy" to the American public.

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Important Dates
April 15, 1890 - Born on this date
November 11, 1942 - Died on this date
External Links
The Rueben Award
Celebrated in song
Contributors: Joshua Carpenter, Robert Zimmerman
Last updated September 25, 2006 at 11:03 pm by Robert Zimmerman