Tuesday, December 05, 2006


BARNABY by Crockett Johnson was a comic strip about a little kid who had a ne'er do well fairy godfather that only he (Barnaby) could see. My friend Philip Nel has the best place on the Web for all things Crockett Johnson here.

The strip did not last a long time, and few papers carried it. It's only been reprinted a handful of times. But some people, particularly some cartoonists, remember it. There was a collection of the strip, and it's been getting reprinted here and there.

Anyway, I had a BARNABY moment on Sunday.

It's December 3, 2006: My wife and I were walking in Wawayanda woods, along an unfamilar and muddy path, when we came upon over a rise, into a clearing and I saw a big, rusted out steamroller. Well, not a steamroller per se, but one of those big roller things, used for rolling out asphalt.

"It's Trilby!" I said, running over to it. "Take my picture! Take my picture!"

I recalled sequence in the BARNABY comic strip immediately! You see, Barnaby is in a competition to find scrap metal . . .

It's been years since I read these strips, but as soon as I saw that rusty thing in the woods in 2006, I remembered that BARNABY sequence.

A wacky comic strip moment that I thought, at first, I wouldn't share. But ever since I told Tony Murphy that night about "the Trilby incident," I thought maybe I would share it. So, Tony, even though I said no way on Sunday night, I've changed my mind.

Barnaby should be -- and is -- remembered. And so are Mr. O'Malley and McSnoyd in this, the 100th year of Mr. Johnson's birth!

The scans are from a 1943 collection of the strips. Thanks to my Dad who gave me his copy circa 1970.


Brian Fies said...

I've got a question: When you start jumping up and down getting all excited about a rusted-out steam roller you find in the woods, does your wife kind of sigh, roll her eyes, smile gently, and seem resigned to the fact that this is the life she signed up for? Because I get that reaction all the time, and I'm guessing you do, too.

Trade Loeffler said...

Mike, I can't believe I get to be the first to say it about this post, but... Cushlamochree!!!!

Roy Oser said...

I second the cushlamochree! I well remember the hardcover collection of Barnaby from my childhood, and the scrap metal drive episode stands out. I seem to recall that in addition to Trilby, Barnaby also found a spoon, adding another 1/4 ounce to his haul.

Roy Oser said...

I second the cushlamochree! As a child I had the hardcover collection of Barnaby comics and enjoyed them greatly. The scrap metal drive incident stands out in my memory, and I seem to recall that in addition to Trilby, Barnaby found a spoon, adding another 1/4 ounce to his haul.