Billy DeBeck Sketches, and Barney Google

Rob Stolzer just posted 18 wonderful pages of Billy DeBeck character sketches and mentioned them on the excellent PlatinumAgeComics Yahoo group. I’m going to start pointing out some of the stuff that gets shown off on this group, as much of it deserves wider viewing. Here’s what Rob has to say about the sketches:

My apologies in advance for the cross-post, but I thought both lists might have an interest in these DeBeck studies.

Many years ago, Howard Lowery auctioned off a lot of 18 sketch pages by Billy DeBeck. These appear to be from the late 20s or early 30s, though I’m far from 100% sure. I was the under bidder on these pieces way-back-when, but was lucky enough to be able to acquire them recently.

The pieces appear to be fleshed out studies from when DeBeck was staying at the Continental Hotel. You can see that some characters are drawn directly from life, while others appear to come directly out of DeBeck’s fertile imagination. I assume that the pieces were drawn in NYC, though that’s only a guess. Whatever the case, it’s an interesting look at DeBeck’s character development. It’s almost like he was coming up with characters for a play, or maybe secondary characters for Barney Google.

Any info or light that could be shed on these would be appreciated. Thanks!


Click on the below image to view the gallery.

If you want to see more of DeBeck’s wonderful work, check out the Yahoo group googlegang for regular reprints of Barney Google strips (courtesy of cartoonist Roger Langridge), and these DeBeck strip reprints from Barnacle Press.

Barney Google is way up there on my list of great neglected comics. It is beautifully and distinctively drawn (I love DeBeck’s loose, scratchy style), and very funny.

Although this was one of the most popular strips of the 1920s and 1930s, there are only two major print reprints of the strip I’ve run across, neither of which provides a thorough reprinting. One is Bill Blackbeard’s Barney Google 1919-1920 volume of The Hyperion Library of Classic American Comic Strips from 1977 (reprinting the early years of the strip before Barney was divorced and before he found his horse Sparkplug)… the other is the book Barney Google and Snuffy Smith by Brian Walker which offers some short runs from different time periods (hillbilly Snuffy Smith, who is still in the papers today, got his start as a secondary character in Barney Google, and then took over the strip). There are some good runs of the strip in The Smithsonian Guide to Newspaper Comics and The Comic Strip Century as well.

One thought on “Billy DeBeck Sketches, and Barney Google

  1. Sorry: I don´t speak English, but DeBeck is
    fantastic an was a example for my own
    way in the drawing´s field. Thank you for
    the sketchs.

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