Career Highlights - As a Cartoonist

Reuben Lucius Goldberg was many things when he was alive. He was an engineer, an inventor, a cartoonist, a journalist, a sculptor and a political commentator - through his art anyway. Some of his works, however, stood out better than the others. Here is a look at the highlights of the career that he spawned through the years. Some of the information may have been alluded to or mentioned explicitly in other sections of the site but this section explores more of the reasons behind the particular stage’s inclusion in the career highlights list.


You might say that a career begins when a person starts getting a regular job and earning good money for it. However, there was some significance in Rube Goldberg working a paper route as a boy no matter how simple and ordinary such a job could be. This was, however, the beginning of his budding interest in newspapers. He recalled how he loved inhaling the smell of freshly-published newspapers. The exhilarating scent was perfume to his senses. This was the beginning of his love affair with newspapers and publications as a whole.


Rube Goldberg, as he was better known as, had a natural inclination towards the arts. As earlier mentioned, he also had a strong interest in publications. This was discouraged by his father, who probably thought the interest impractical. Goldberg was then sent to study to become an engineer at the University of California at Berkeley. He did graduate in 1904 and worked afterwards as a sewer system designer in San Francisco; the job brought in $100 a month. At that time, this should be a decent enough salary and the job itself was worthy of the pride of Goldberg’s father. However, he was not so happy with the job, in which he had to sit on a desk serving what he had discovered to be corrupt politicians. This discovery was what spurred him to go back to his artistic roots, then already armed with more knowledge that he could use for the comics that he would later create. Rube then quit the hundred-dollar-per-month job not so long after he started in it to become an $8 dollar a week cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. From this move, we could see that Rube Goldberg was a man of principle who could give up a good job for the sake of his beliefs and his interests.

Rube Goldberg’s transition from science to art. This was one of the biggest highlights of his career life – that first step towards being a fully-fledged cartoonist. Also, he was able to work in both opposing fields with some success and was able to transition successfully. Goldberg did not have trouble transitioning because he was shifting from a job he studied and trained for to a job in which he had a natural penchant for. If this first step was never ever taken then the whole Rube Goldberg story would be forever altered. Even cartoonists of today may not be the same way.


Goldberg’s early years as an artist was not yet successful, though he did have the talent. He had to send his works to newspaper publishers only to get rejected several times. He also had to sweep the floor and perform other clerical jobs at the newspaper’s headquarters. This may have been considered a trivial part of his career for some but it was actually a highlight of a different sort. The rejection plus the odd jobs assigned to him when he should have been an artist could have discouraged Goldberg. He might have ended up thinking that his father was right to warn him against a career in art. He might have turned his back on cartooning and headed back to the field of engineering. He remained, however, until he caught a break. Goldberg, at this point in his still-shaky career, had proven his love for the arts and journalism – for cartooning and newspapers. Continue to next page.