She may be little, but she hasn’t aged a bit while providing laughs to generations.
“Little Lulu” Moppet made her first appearance in 1935 as a single panel cartoon in the Saturday Evening Post magazine. As drawn by cartoonist Majorie Henderson Buell (1904-1993) both the artist and her character “broke the ceiling” in paving the way for women cartoon artists and female lead characters.
Marjorie, who signed her cartoons as “Marge,” began her cartoon career at the age of 16 when her first submission was published in the Philadelphia Ledger in 1921. Following that, she had moderate success with a single panel titled “The Boyfriend” which also featured a female character.
In her first appearance, Little Lulu is shown dropping banana peels instead of rose petals in her role as flower girl at a wedding. The single panel strip continued until 1944, when Lulu began appearing in cartoon reels shown at Saturday afternoon movie matinees.
The success of Little Lulu encouraged the development of other female cartoon characters: Little Audrey, Little Dot, and Little Lotta, in both cartoon reels and comic books.
Marge drew the strip until 1947, when she entrusted her character to Joe Stanley, so she could concentrate on raising her two sons and marketing Little Lulu for product endorsements and trademarked merchandise. Under Stanley’s drawing pen, Lulu’s friend Joe was renamed Tubby, and the characters evolved into a three panel strip, syndicated by the Chicago Tribune – New York News, which ran from 1950 to 1969.
Little Lulu was the mascot for Kleenex Tissues advertisements from 1952 to 1965, and appeared in comic books as “Marge’s Little Lulu.” Upon her retirement in 1972, Marge sold the rights to the Western Publishing Company, which continued the comic until 1984.
Hallmark Cards produced this deck of mini playing cards featuring Little Lulu, as licensed by Western Publishing, in the 1970’s. A collection of Majorie Henderson Buell’s artwork was donated to the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard University by her family upon her death.