Publisher: Originally, The Saturday Evening Post. When Lulu joined the comic book world, she was published by Dell. Dark Horse Comics currently owns the reprint rights.
First Appearance: February 23, 1935 edition of The Saturday Evening Post
Created By: Marjorie Henderson Buell aka ‘Marge’
Lulu Moppet lives with her parents, George and Martha, tiny dog, and cat (a female inexplicably named Christopher) in a suburb where a kid can get nearly anywhere just by walking. Her best friend is supposedly a little girl named Annie, but her main partner in both crime and adventure is the aptly named Tubby Thompkins; their relationship goes from a mutual quasi-crush one minute to barely tolerated disdain the next. That’s pretty much how I remember my grade school crushes too.
Lulu’s a bright, creative girl, and she usually has the best of intentions, but sometimes her imagination gets the best of her, leading to accidental mayhem. She’s also feisty and has a well-developed sense of moral outrage, which usually emerges when the neighborhood boys tease her for being a girl. A lot of her adventures center around her attempts to infiltrate their ‘boys only’ club, much to their dismay. Unfortunately for the boys, she’s smarter than all of them and almost always gets the better of them.
When not championing feminism, Lulu is often found babysitting neighborhood sociopath Alvin Jones (the elaborate fables she tells him are amazingly hilarious), running errands for her mother, and playing with dolls. Oh, and she sometimes helps ghosts solve their problems. For serious.
So What’s So Great About Her?
When I was a little girl, my familiarity with Little Lulu came from a few animated shorts. I don’t think I even realized she was a comic book character, and even if I had, it wouldn’t have mattered. When I initially got into comics, my interests were solely superhero-based and remained so for well over a decade. I wish I’d read Little Lulu as a kid, though, because in the two years since I’ve discovered these comics, Lulu’s become one of my very favorite female characters, full stop.
Lulu is one of those very rare characters who’s mischievous but manages to also be totally likable. She usually doesn’t mean to cause chaos; in fact, more often than not she’s a nice, helpful girl, a voice of reason for selfish, opportunistic Tubby to clash with. But while she’s very clever, she’s also never takes the time to ponder the full effects of what she’s doing. In this way, despite the cartoon-y nature of her stories, she’s also a very realistic child, which I love.
It also helps that she’s extremely brave and rather fierce. Granted, Tubby is a coward, but he’s also a male chauvinist. Yet he’s the first to acknowledge that Lulu has a way of solving problems, whether it’s with her brain or a fearsome snarl. But she’s also so feminine—she’s often busy minding her baby dolls, almost always wears her little dress and matching cap, and is absolutely always depicted in her signature ringlets.
So Lulu proves that you can be a strong, forceful person without sacrificing your femininity. No wonder Friends of Lulu, a group that promotes women readers and creators of comics, chose her for their mascot. Lulu’s constant attempts to break into the boys’ club was also pretty symbolic to FoL, which was frustrated by the male domination of both the comics industry and fandom. I think Lulu would heartily approve of her namesake, and not just out of vanity (though, being Lulu, that would be part of it).
Also, I have to say that her comics are genuinely some of the most hilarious I’ve ever read, and considering some are over 60 years old, that’s really saying something. (Have you ever read ‘funny books’ from the Golden Age? Let’s just say that sometimes tastes in humor don’t pass down from generation to generation.) There’s a timeless quality to them, and it always lifts my spirits to find an amazing comic that I would feel comfortable handing to a child.
In conclusion, go read Little Lulu. I mean, right now. I’ll wait.
Yeah, okay, you could go back and try to collect 40+ years of individual comic books, in which case you’re far richer and more patient than I am, or you can pick up the extremely comprehensive reprint trades from Dark Horse. There are currently 27 slimmer trades, featuring about five comics’ worth of material each, and many of them are in full color. Giant Size Little Lulu trades are in black and white (which I prefer, but that’s just me) and contain around 15 stories. Dark Horse has also been reprinting Little Lulu’s Friend Tubby comics in their own volumes, which obviously feature Lulu from time to time.