Barnaby is a wonderful cartoon strip (now only available in collected book form) that was written and drawn by Crockett Johnson (of Harold and the Purple Crayon fame) during the 1940s in the U.S. It featured the adventures of a small boy (guess what his name was) who lived in suburbia during World War II.

This wouldn't have been very interesting, save for one small fact - he has a Fairy Godfather. Nope, not Fairy Godmother; Fairy Godfather. The gent in question is named Mr. Aloysius O'Malley. He is a short, stout Irish fairy, usually seen wearing a topcoat a hat and a smoldering cheroot. He has a pair of pink wings on his back, and can fly.

The cigar doubles as his magic wand; while he can of course perform magic, the magic always somehow seems to not quite have the desired results. In fact, whether or not actual magic has happened, as opposed to serendipity, is never clear and is in fact one of the strip's running jokes.

Barnaby's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Baxter, don't believe in Mr. O'Malley, which means poor Barnaby is always blamed for the outcomes of Mr. O'Malley's botched wand-wavings. The latter is always (just as Barnaby's parents or other adults are approaching) late for an important meeting, or event at his club (The Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes and Little Men's Chowder & Marching Society), and of course he's never quite seen.

Together, Mr. O'Malley and Barnaby foil Nazis, hijackers, parents, neighbors, child psychologists, dogs, leprechauns, and the like. They have help, though: Jane (a neighbor), McSnoyd, (an aforementioned leprechaun), Gorgon (a mutt), and Gus (a ghost) among others.

My father gave me what I believe to be his childhood copy of the first, wonderful book when I was around eight, and it pains and shames me to know that I eventually destroyed it in my enthusiasm. However, it also warms my heart to know that my Dad must've known what would happen but felt that I should have it anyway.

Thanks, Dad.

You can find more info about Barnaby and Crockett Johnson at:

http://www.ksu.edu/english/nelp/purple/index.html

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