Marge working on a sketch of her most famous character, Little Lulu
Marjorie Henderson Buell|
December 11, 1904
May 30, 1993 (aged 88)|
|Notable works||Little Lulu|
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Buell was 16 when her first cartoon was published. In 1925, she created her first syndicated comic strip, The Boy Friend, which ran through 1926. Marge was friends with Oz author Ruth Plumly Thompson and illustrated her fantasy novel King Kojo (1933).
Little Lulu begins
Hired by The Saturday Evening Post in 1934, her first Little Lulu drawing appeared on the back page of that weekly in 1935. Little Lulu replaced Carl Anderson's Henry, which had been picked up for distribution by King Features Syndicate. Little Lulu was created as a result of Anderson's success, as noted by Schlesinger Library curator Kathryn Allamong Jacob:
- Lulu was born in 1935, when The Saturday Evening Post asked Buell to create a successor to the magazine’s Henry — Carl Anderson's stout, mute little boy — who was moving on to national syndication. The result was Little Lulu, the resourceful, equally silent (at first) little girl whose loopy curls were reminiscent of the artist’s own as a girl. Buell explained to a reporter, “I wanted a girl because a girl could get away with more fresh stunts that in a small boy would seem boorish.”
The Little Lulu panel continued to run weekly in The Saturday Evening Post until December 30, 1944. Buell retained the rights, unusual for the time. In 1950, Little Lulu became a daily syndicated comic strip. Buell marketed Little Lulu widely throughout the 1940s. The character appeared in comic books, animated cartoons, greeting cards and more. Little Lulu comic books, popular internationally, were translated into Arabic, Dutch, Finnish, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Greek.
Buell also did illustrations for Country Gentleman, Ladies' Home Journal and Collier's. Buell stopped drawing Little Lulu in 1947, and the work was continued by others, while she kept creative control. Sketching and writing of the Little Lulu comic book series was taken on by John Stanley, who later drew Nancy and Sluggo. Buell sold her Little Lulu rights to Western Publishing when she retired in 1971.
In 2003, an original 1930s watercolor of Little Lulu by Buell brought $584.00 on EBay.
In July 2006, Buell's family donated the “Marge Papers” to the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University. The papers include a collection of fan mail, comic books, scrapbooks of high points in Lulu’s history and a complete set of the newspaper cartoons. Buell's son Larry is a professor of American Literature at Harvard, and her son Fred is a professor of English at Queens College.
- Taylhardat, Karim. La Pequeña Lulu/The Little Lulu & M. Henderson, Madrid, Spain: Ediciones Sinsentido, 2007.
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