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Vote for VCU: Famous cartoonist's work in Virginia Association of Museums' campaign for preservation of artifacts

August 7, 2012

Here's a new way to support Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Libraries: Vote in Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts campaign. This public awareness campaign of the Virginia Association of Museums  is designed to show the importance of preserving artifacts in care at collecting institutions such as museums, libraries and archives.

VCU Libraries has nominated one artifact in need of preservation and it tells a significant story about one of VCU Libraries' special collections, the Comic Arts Collection.

In the running: the office door of pioneering cartoonist Billy DeBeck featuring an oil painting of Barney Google and his equine sidekick. The door resides in the office of Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library. 

William Morgan DeBeck, 1890-1942, was a giant in the "comic strip" art form. To readers in the Jazz Age and Depression era, his characters were as beloved as Superman, Peanuts and Doonesbury became to later generations. Dialog from Barney Google became part of the cultural syntax. Catchphrases from his strips included: "Horsefeathers!" "Heebie-jeebies;" "Jeepers Creepers!" "Bus' Mah Britches!" and "Time's a'wastin'!" DeBeck invented the moniker "Google" for his character. Like many illustrators and cartoonists, DeBeck didn't confine his art to paper but painted on his office door. The door was donated to Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library by DeBeck's former secretary, who had ties to Virginia. 

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