'Snuffy Smith' cartoonist visits Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Truth be known, as kids most of us probably learned to read by reading the comic strips in our local newspapers. After skimming the headlines, it's probably still the next thing most of us look at.

Some of those strips have been around a long time, like Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, who've been with us since 1919.

The cartoonist currently behind the long-running comic strip Snuffy Smith sits looking over his first collection of favorites with his daughter during a visit to a One of a Kind Gallery in downtown Bristol. It's called The Bodacious Best of Snuffy Smith.

John Rose is only one of three artists to draw the cartoon since its introduction in 1934. "I've been working on the strip as an assistant since 1998, and then I started drawing the strip in 2001 myself after the gentleman who drew it before me, Fred Lasswell, passed away," Rose said.

Trained as an artist at James Madison University, he cut his teeth in the business on the school newspaper. "During that time I worked on the school newspaper while there and drew editorial cartoons, comic strips, and illustrations. So in addition to the art degree I feel I actually got a lot of on-the-job training working for the newspaper," He says.

And now his work is all over the world.

Just as the characters in the strip, Rose is a proud hillbilly and the stereotypes don't bother him. "I think the characters are just so easy to relate to and fun to be around in the strip. I think the characters are what bring the people in and that the people enjoy reading about, so I think this great set of characters prevents some of that criticism," he said.

And if you can't poke fun at yourself and your way of life, life wouldn't be any fun at all.

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