Born: December 11, 1904
Sold first cartoon: Age 16
Created first weekly Little Lulu cartoon in Saturday Evening Post: February 23, 1935
Retired and sold rights in Little Lulu: 1972
Died: Sunday, May 30, 1993
On this page I will begin to provide information about Marge Henderson Buell, creator of Little Lulu. Marge created the Little Lulu character for The Saturday Evening Post, when the magazine wanted a girl cartoon character to replace the back page cartoons with Henry. Marge had been creating some cartoons for the Post prior to that, and began on February 23, 1935 with the weekly Little Lulu single-panel cartoons. Marge drew all of the Post cartoons herself. She also drew the ads for Kleenex Tissues. But when it came to the comics and daily newspaper strips, others created those under the artistic supervision of Marge.
I will continue to add information to this page as I get it organized, but it will take some time to complete. Below is Marge's obituary from The New York Times June 3, 1993:
Marjorie Henderson Buell, the creator of Little Lulu, the mischievous cartoon character with corkscrew curls who regularly outwitted the neighborhood boys, died on Sunday in the Elyria (Ohio) United Methodist Home. She was 88.
The cause was lymphoma, said John D. Haryith, the co-arranger in 1982 of the only comprehensive retrospective of Mrs. Buell's work, in Oberlin, Ohio.
"She was a pioneer in presenting a girl cartoon character who was resourceful, courageous and who regularly beat out the boys," said Mr. Haryith. Mrs. Buell, who was known as Marge, was also a role model for future cartoon entrepreneurs, since she kept control of the rights to the Little Lulu character. She licensed a host of spinoffs, including comic books, 26 animated cartoon features, greeting cards, dolls, games, puzzles, toys and coloring books.
The Lulu marketing empire was international, with comic books published in languages that included Arabic, Finnish, Japanese, Spanish and Greek. Mrs. Buell sold her copyrights to Western Publishing Company when she retired in 1971.
Mrs. Buell was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 11, 1904. Her first cartoon was published in 1921, when she was 16, in The Philadelphia Ledger. Soon her work found a market in the Ledger syndicate, and ultimately in Life, when it was a comic magazine, as well as The Saturday Evening Post, The Country Gentleman, Judge and Collier's.
In 1934 The Saturday Evening Post asked her to draw a weekly cartoon for the magazine's back page. George Horace Lorimer, the editor, wanted a young female character to take the place of another cartoon that was moving from The Post to King Features Syndicate.
The first "Little Lulu" drawing appeared in December 1935. So popular had the character become by 1944 that Mrs. Buell took Lulu and her friends Tubby, Alvin, Annie and Wilbur from The Post and made the cartoon a daily syndicated comic strip. Lulu also served as the advertising mascot for Kleenex tissues until 1960.
Mrs. Buell is survived by her husbnd, Clarence Addison Buell; two sons, Lawrence I., of Boston, and Frederick H., of Warwick, N.Y. and four grandchildren.
Page last updated 07 Dec 2002.
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