Friday, December 11, 2015

Marjerie* (for Marjorie, etc.)

"Don't put a cold in your pocket! Use Kleenex," advises Little Lulu in an ad from a 1948 Ladies Home Journal. Although the unseasonably warm weather outside doesn't look nearly as frightful as it does inside the pages of this vintage magazine, I've already caught my first drippy bug of the season and can certainly see her point. Little Lulu was the brainchild of a woman named Marjorie Henderson Buell, or just "Marge," as she was often known in the burgeoning world of newspaper comics (and perhaps even in part to ward off the continual misspelling of her name). She was born in Philadelphia on December 11, 1904, and homeschooled along with her two sisters until the age of 11 or 12. She showed a penchant for drawing early on (her mother was an "amateur cartoonist" and her father a "raconteur") and was only 16 when her first cartoon was published in Philly's Public Ledger. Her first syndicated comic strip, "The Boyfriend," and another called "Dashing Dot," both ran during the Roaring Twenties. In 1934, the Saturday Evening Post was looking to replace Carl Anderson's stolid, yet solid, "Henry" strip and offered Buell a job. She created Little Lulu on the theory that "a girl could get away with more fresh stunts that in a small boy would seem boorish". Well, and perhaps even in a girl. In her debut on February 23, 1935, Marge depicted "Lulu Moppet" as an anarchic flower girl, strewing banana peels down the aisle instead of rose petals. Buell was a hard-headed businesswoman who shunned the spotlight. Little Lulu, the Flappers' younger sister, is a bit of a feminist icon. Buell gave up drawing Little Lulu in 1947, but retained control over her image until she retired in 1971. Lulu often seems to be making the best of a patch of bad weather, and so should you and I. While there are various spellings of the name Marjorie (e.g., Margerie, Margorie, and even Margory), the only one I could think of that didn't appear in at least one name authority record was Marjerie—ergo, our typo for the day. Feel free to sniff around any of those other ones, though, in various combinations if you like, and please use Kleenex wherever appropriate. (Or maybe even where inappropriate.) This one was found just once in OhioLINK, and 14 times in WorldCat.

(Ladies Home Journal, 1948, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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