I never thought Snuffy Smith was very funny. But in real life, Fred was one of the funniest persons I ever knew. Billy DeBeck hired him in 1933 to help with Barney Google. Fred was mainly responsible for developing the character of Snuffy and the other hillbillies. When Billy died in 1945, Fred took over. From Barney Google it became Barney Google and Snuffy Smith then Snuffy Smith and Barney Google, and then just Snuffy Smith with maybe Barney in small print. The Syndicate did this so they could maintain copyright to the Barney character. Every year or so Barney and Sparkplug would show up at Snuffy’s shack. This was also to maintain the copyright.
Fred didn’t have good feelings for King Features. They talked him into being a salaried employee. I don’t know when this happened, but he was very bitter. He said that he was a young man and didn’t know any better. Generally the split is 50-50. In my case, a lot of the money came from Europe. The split was supposed to me 35 me, 35 syndicate and 30 for the foreign distributor. However the foreign distributor took out overhead. I doubt if I received 20% of those revenues. That’s the way it works. did you ever see the Italian full length cartoon movie Allegro non Tropo? The poor cartoonist is chained to his drawing table. It’s a really terrific movie.
I visited him at his studio once. He had three beautiful young ladies, maybe early twenties, as his assistants. As far as could tell, all they did was stand around looking pretty. As a matter of fact, his wife was a former Zeigfeld girl. One of them answered a phone call while I was there. He was drawing Snuffy when I arrived. He took about three minutes just drawing Snuffy’s nose. No kidding. I can still see him working on the precise shape.
I forget how long ago it was, at one of our cartoonist conventions, Fred and I put on a show. I sang and played the ukekele. Fred was Queen Kahunahuna aka Tiny Bubbles. Here was this old man well into his seventies dancing the hula and ad libbing jokes. He was a riot.
I still have that shirt.
I apologize for the “M” word. I didn’t know any better.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized
. Bookmark the permalink