Sergeant Barney Barker, a character from Atlas Comics in the fifties, was cashing in on the popularity of The Phil Silvers Show (originally You’ll Never Get Rich), a CBS comedy starring Silvers as conniving Sergeant Ernie Bilko. I was a Bilko fan, and watched the show in its original run and in syndication.
The sponsor was Camel cigarettes. Here’s an ad from a 1956 campaign tieing in with the show, using a fumetti-style comic strip featuring Silvers and Maurice Gosfield as Pvt. Duane Doberman.
DC Comics licensed the characters for a Sergeant Bilko comic, and even a spin-off title, Sgt. Bilko’s Pvt Doberman, both drawn by Bob Oksner. The derivative Barker strip wasn’t long-lived. According to the Atlas Tales website there was the issue these two short-stories came from, G.I. Tales #4 (1956), and three issues of Sergeant Barney Barker (with a cover tagline, “Even with Barker we won the war!”) Nowadays I can appreciate Barney Barker because it was drawn by John Severin. In the fifties I would have turned up my nose at it for being “fake Bilko.” Yes, I was that kind of person; I didn’t like imitation, and yet now I see it as being an interesting sidelight to the popularity of the television show.