After drawing such features as Insect Life, McBride's Cartoon (1927), and Clifford McBride's Pantomime Comic (1932), he created Elby, a character based on his uncle, Henry Elba Eastman. He soon began to add situations involving Elby's dog, Napoleon.
Drawing for a minor syndicate, LaFave Newspaper Features, McBride began Napoleon as a daily strip on June 6, 1932, adding a Sunday strip in 1933. The following year the title was changed to Napoleon and Uncle Elby. McBride's cartoons appeared in such magazines as Life and Cosmopolitan, and he profited from hardcover reprints, comic books and the licensing of his character as a spokesdog during the 1940s for Red Heart Dog Food. Merchandising included a stuffed toy of Napoleon. Napoleon and Uncle Elby was a 1945 hardcover collecting 116 of McBride's strips.
McBride's assistant on the strip was Roger Armstrong (1917–2007). After McBride's 1951 death in Altadena, California, his second wife, Margot Fischer McBride, wrote the strip, and she hired Armstrong as the illustrator. In 1952, the team switched to the Mirror Enterprises Syndicate in Los Angeles, keeping the strip going for the next eight years.