American cartoonist Billy DeBeck (1890-1942) created many popular comic strips over the course of a career spanning nearly 40 years. Among his best-known strips are ones that involve characters Barney Google, a loveable ne'er-do-well and aficionado of gambling in various forms, and Spark Plug, Barney Google's blanket-covered racehorse, but perhaps DeBeck's most enduringly popular character is Snuffy Smith, a moonshiner from the backwoods of North Carolina. While working on the Snuffy Smith strips, DeBeck amassed a library of more than 100 volumes of fiction, anthropology and folklore focusing on Appalachia, the Ozarks and the American South. In 1990 VCU Libraries acquired the Billy DeBeck Collection, including this library, from DeBeck's former secretary.
Paul Robertson, research assistant in James Brach Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives and a doctoral student in VCU's Media Art & Text (MATX) program, will give a presentation on Billy DeBeck and his library at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 23, 2013, in the second-floor Multipurpose Room in James Branch Branch Cabell Library. Robertson will look critically at the nature and extent of DeBeck's research and at the character of Snuffy Smith and DeBeck's intentions for him. The talk will be free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided. For questions, please call (804) 828-0593.