Turns out Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (for all it’s present anachronistic obtuseness) was, at one time, a really big deal. This time being around 90 years ago when the inclusion of a race horse named Spark Plug brought the strip enormous popularity. Remember, this is before TV, radio and talkies when newspaper comics were the shared American experience. The strip spawned films, animation, a hugely popular song (Barney Google) and eventually television.
Sometimes I like to think Over the Hedge is some sort of big deal with the film and all. But it’s not. Compared to strips like Barney Google, Lil’ Abner, Dick Tracy, and Terry and the Pirates, it’s teeny-tiny blip on the entertainment horizon.
At one time newspaper comics were at the top on the entertainment food chain. Today we hover somewhere slightly under The Croquet Channel, but above The Competitive Eating Channel.
Being a newspaper cartoonist today is a little like being a jazz musician. We’re respected, but not especially popular. But at least with jazz no one’s going to stop making saxophones and trombones any time soon.
Newspapers on the other hand are in increasingly short supply.