Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!
It’s a oft-seen trope in popular culture. A minor character ‘blows up’ and ultimately becomes the star of a series that wasn’t meant to be about him or her. HAPPY DAYS (previously featured on this channel in both its original live action and cartoon spin-off forms) had Fonzie. FAMILY MATTERS was cursed with Steve Urkel… But it goes back way before television.
FRITZI RITZ and BLONDIE were part of a genre of newspaper comics that served as excuses for depicting hot gals (hey, we didn’t have Internet then either!) before the former got her strip usurped by her niece NANCY and the latter got married and the focus shifted to her husband Dagwood. THIMBLE THEATRE ran for a decade before POPEYE joined the cast.
BARNEY GOOGLE started way back at the dawn of the newspaper comic strip medium, actually starting on the sports page before the comics page was a thing. This little guy’s adventures were enormously popular, and he was celebrated in song and (silent) films… Then, in 1934, Barney’s travels brought him to North Carolina, where he met ornery little hillbilly SNUFFY SMITH, who soon became the star of the series.
King Features Syndicate, purveyor of newspaper comic strips worldwide, had enjoyed considerable success releasing a big batch of newly-produced Popeye cartoons to television starting in 1960. So they followed-up by trying the same with other comic strip characters. We covered BEETLE BAILY week before last. Now it’s Snuffy’s turn. Although he was rarely seen in the funny pages by this point, Barney Google turns up as a supporting character in this ‘toon.
BTW, after nigh-on three dozen years livin’ amongst Tarheels, I’ll attest that their depiction here is pretty much spot-on. More from the OldHorseman.