Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Billy DeBeck

Rob Stolzer bought some original Billy DeBeck sketches and he shares them with all of us here.

What these are, is a mystery. No one knows the story behind these. The pencil sketches are not of Barney Google or Snuffy Smith, DeBeck's most famous creations.

When you first spy them on the Web page, they look like a series of cartoony life drawings. But they could, maybe, be a loose color pencil study for a comic strip proposal. Anyway, they're all drawings of characters in and around a Continental Hotel.

They're drawn on stationery for a Beau-Belle Products, 11 West 42nd Street, New York, NY. (My playwright great grandfather Austin Goetz also would snag stationery from hotels he stayed in and used the contraband to type initial drafts of his plays.)

11 West 42nd Street is just off of Fifth Avenue, across from Bryant Park and the NY Public Library. The building there is one of those tall post-war steel and glass monoliths. But, there is a lovely facade -- maybe saved by some historical precedent. Anyway, it dates back from another, more luxurious age. I took some photos on Sunday:

DeBeck is another cartoonist that is languishing and deserves rediscovery ala Frank King and Segar. His scratchy, nervous, inky bigfoot style echoes Herriman, but DeBeck is his own man. If you're interested in reading Brian Walker's and Fred Lasswell's informative book, Barney Google & Snuffy Smith: 75 Years of an American Legend, it's $45 used at Amazon -- but OSU has it for sale for $5.

My thanks to Arnold Wagner for the heads up. And a hat tip to Frank Pauer about where to get the book for $5.

1 comment:

Mark Anderson said...

Mike, thanks for the pic and the $5 heads up!

The longer I'm in this biz the more I discover I don't know about everyone who came before me.

I don't think I'll ever be able to get caught up, especially with you constantly parading tantalizing morsel after morsel...

I need a cookie.