Crockett Johnson Homepage > Characters created or illustrated by Crockett Johnson > Cartoon Characters: The Barnaby Series, page 1

Crockett Johnson's Cartoon Characters

The Barnaby Series, page 1 | The Barnaby Series, page 2 | Barkis

Barnaby, page 1:

Atlas | Barnaby | Mr. and Mrs. Baxter | Gorgon | Gus | Jane | McSnoyd | Mr. O'Malley | Rover

Barnaby, page 2:

A. A. | Ex-Senator Ecks | Gridley | Davy Jones | Howard | Jacob "Jake" Marley | Bilharzia Ogre/Mr. Jones | Myles O'Malley | J. P. Orion | Emmy Lou Schwartz | Shrdlu | Col. Wurst



The Barnaby Series, page 1

Not all of the characters who appeared in the original comic strips make it into the first two books. This page includes only the main characters in Barnaby (1943) or Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley (1944). Page 2 features the characters from Ballantine/Del Rey's Barnaby series (1985-86), which reprinted the original strips exactly as first run.

Barnaby Baxter

A little boy of perhaps five. In the first strip, Barnaby's mother tells him a story which includes a Fairy Godmother. Barnaby wishes for a Fairy Godmother, and -- in the next strip -- a Fairy Godfather arrives. Like Harold, Barnaby is a good-natured, curious kid who has a variety of adventures that his parents will neither see nor understand.

Ellen and John Baxter are Barnaby's mother and father. Although there are a few near-meetings, they never see Mr. O'Malley, Gus, Atlas or the other "Pixies," and so consider Barnaby's friends to be figments of their son's active imagination. They may not understand Barnaby or his world, but they're well-meaning and basically kind people. Often, they try to get Barnaby involved in an activity in the hopes that he'll lose interest in his "imaginary" Fairy Godfather: the scrap metal drive, flying a kite, planting a Victory Garden.... Of course, Mr. O'Malley and company aren't imaginary and the Baxters' good intentions never produce the desired result.
       Ellen Baxter works in the home, looking after Barnaby, cooking, doing housework, and so on. John Baxter works at "the plant." He seems integral to the company, getting dispatched to lobby Congress in early 1944 and overseeing production in late 1944. The unnamed business must be a construction or engineering firm. In the strips from the spring of 1944, it wins a government contract to build a power dam. By March of 1945, "the factory" has been sold to O'Malley Enterprises. But John keeps his job and the company keeps on running after O'Malley's business venture collapses.
Barnaby's parents
Mrs. Baxter and Mr. Baxter
Jane, Barnaby's friend and neighbor
Jane Shultz

A little girl of Barnaby's age. More of a realist than Barnaby, she is not sure at first how to respond when she meets a person (Mr. O'Malley), who, her parents have told her, is purely imaginary. Although Mr. O'Malley's blundering leaves her less impressesed than it does Barnaby, Jane shares her friend's adventurous spirit. In fact, she has visited the haunted house prior to Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley.

Mr. O'Malley, Barnaby's Fairy Godfather
Jackeen J. O'Malley
In the second strip of the series, Mr. O'Malley comes flying through Barnaby's bedroom window, and breaks his cigar upon landing. He exclaims, "Cushlamochree! Broke my magic wand! You wished for a Godparent who could grant wishes? Lucky boy! Your wish is granted! I'm your Fairy Godfather." A card-carrying member of the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes and Little Men's Chowder and Marching Society, Mr. O'Malley is the same height as Barnaby, has little pink wings on his back, flies (if somewhat erratically), uses a cigar as a magic wand, and can do a bit of magic -- but only after consulting his Fairy Godfather's Handy Pocket Guide. Although his magic usually is limited to card tricks, he accidentally turns himself invisible in Barnaby, and appears to make it rain in Barnaby and Mr O'Malley. In the latter book, he runs for -- and is elected to -- congress!
       In Current Biography 1943, Johnson describes O'Malley as partly W. C. Fields, "partly Mayor La Guardia, and his cigar and eyes are occasionally borrowed from Jimmy Savo."
Barnaby's dog. A Christmas gift for his dad, but it becomes Barnaby's friend. And, yes, the dog talks.
       Of Gorgon, Dorothy Parker wrote: "I think the conception of a dog who talks -- 'Didn't know I could do it; never tried it before, I guess' -- and then turns out to be such a bore that they have to lock him away so they won't be obliged to listen to him, is -- well, it's only glorious, that's all. You have to love dogs before you can go on the step of taking them down, understandingly. I think Mr. Johnson must love dogs. I think Mr. Johnson must love people. I know darned well I love Mr. Johnson."
Rover, Gorgon's father

At left, Gorgon's father. Now working as a firehouse dog.

At right, not a mushroom but a Leprechaun acquaintance of Barnaby's Fairy Godfather. McSnoyd makes himself invisible so as not to be seen by Barnaby, and the reader never sees him either -- though he does talk (with a rather strong Bronx accent), guard his treasure, and serves as a comic foil for Mr. O'Malley.

The Invisible McSnoyd
Launcelot McSnoyd
Gus, the ghostwriting ghost

Gus is a Ghost who is visible, but rather timid. When gangsters take up residence in the abandoned house he's haunting, he gets scared and leaves. He's also been an actor, and Mr. O'Malley employs him as a ghostwriter when he runs for congress. At left, Gus is writing O'Malley's campaign biography.

A giant, but he's no taller than Barnaby or Mr. O'Malley. He is, as O'Malley explains, a Mental Giant, and he answers every question only after first computing the answer on his slide rule. In the third panel of one strip from May 1943, O'Malley and Barnaby find Atlas sitting beneath a tree, perplexed by a difficult equation: "It comes out wrong," he tells them. Then, in the final panel, Atlas explains, "I'm dividing up the post-war world . . . to please everybody."
Atlas, the mental giant

More Barnaby: "Barnaby" in the 1960s | Barnaby Quarterly | Books | Critics | Cushlamochree! | Duke Ellington | Mr. O'Malley doll | Dorothy Parker | Link | PM | Unpublished

The Barnaby Series, page 1 | The Barnaby Series, page 2 | Barkis
Cartoons: Barnaby and Barkis | Harold and Ellen | Others: 1950s | Others: 1960s | Collaborations

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Mr. O'Malley

All of Johnson's text and artwork is © by Crockett Johnson and/or Ruth Krauss Johnson.
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Last updated 8 February 2002.