A Brief Overview of some "Inventions" and Comic Contributions

Rube Goldberg’s Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts is certainly ingenious. He always finds a way to solve mundane problems with complicated and hilarious solutions that will not only tickle your funny bone but will also get your brain gears turning. Even if Goldberg refused to admit it – which we don’t have any concrete evidence whether he did or not – his mind was somehow still caught up in the field of engineering. Engineering, as you now already know, is not Goldberg’s first love. He would rather create art and enjoyed life as cartoonist and journalist but it was his engineering knowledge that provided him with the physics to understand how some objects can work together to create a chain or reactions.

Sequential Effect

The Professor’s inventions depend on a series of chain reactions. Well, we all know what an alarm clock looks like right now. We don’t really try to figure out how it works but we know that it is designed to wake us up. It is also usually small and compact. The larger ones are designed so due to aesthetic purposes. Goldberg’s Professor Butts, however, was not going for aesthetics when he decided that he needed a bird to a pull a string that ends up firing a pistol that will burst a balloon. The balloon then drops a brick onto a perfume atomizer that emits vapor to a sponge. This sponge is attached to a string that will pull a lever up to drop a cannonball on the person that needed waking up.

Unique Parts

The inventions featured in the Professor strips were not dependent on technological parts, such as knobs, screws and logic controllers. The mentioned parts were not the usual ingredients to an interestingly funny and oddball but perfectly logical setups that Rube Goldberg was capable of creating for years. Who else would think that a boxing glove, a hat rack and a goldfish would be perfect for turning the pages of a book while also playing the clarinet? The use of those items could be deemed illogical but the series of actions that result after the trigger actually produce the desired result. So, the whole setup had been planned with careful inspection and use of Goldberg’s engineering knowledge.

Thinking Outside of the Box

One of the highlights of Rube Goldberg’s inventions, however, is the constant desire for something different or for looking at new solutions to the same problem.

Goldberg is often asking “What else can we do with that?” or “How else can we get that result?” Most importantly, however, Goldberg is also asking “How can we present a perfectly logical setup in the most hilarious way possible?”

It was this constant search for answers to these questions of versions of them that made Rube Goldberg such a success as a cartoonist.


Though Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts was definitely Rube Goldberg’s most famous contribution to the cartooning world, there were other comic strip contributions under his name. After all, he did work for multiple newspapers in his heyday. His other contributions were not just one-time works of art, either, but were also series of their own. Some of the titles below, such as Lala Palooza and Mike and Ike had already been discussed in his early career contributions.

The following titles were just some of the comic series that Goldberg was known to have created: “Boob McNutt”, “Lala Palooza”, “Mike and Ike” (They Look Alike), and “The Weekly Meeting of the Tuesday Women’s Club”. From the very titles themselves, you would know that there would not be the same use of science and technology as it was the case with the invention comics. So, Goldberg does know how to work with purely comical strips.

In the 1907 to 1915 period, Rube Goldberg also produced works such as “I’m the Guy”, “Lunatics I Have Met”, “The Candy Kid”, “Soup and Fish”, and “They All Look Good When You’re Far Away”.

Goldberg was also well known for his sports cartoons. In 1915, he was tasked to come up with a Sunday comic strip, which he called “Boob McNutt”. This comic strip, which was syndicated by McNaught, was about a helpless clown.

His forays into the different comic strips were not always immediately successful. Mike and Ike had to be re-launched to finally enjoy some degree of success.
Rube Goldberg also introduced some new comic strips into the Hearst papers. These titles were “Boobs Abroad”, “Life’s Little Jokes”, and “Phoney Films”.
By 1928, Goldberg created his first and arguably his best daily comic strip, which was called “Bobo Baxter”. The title lasted until 1930. In 1934, Goldberg came up with “Doc Wright”, which was a comic strip about a doctor and the patients that he was seeing. A couple of years later, the cartoonist launched “Lala Palooza” in 1936. The particular comic strip lasted until 1939.

While Rube Goldberg was most famous for his Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts invention comics but he was considered to be at his wackiest with his miscellany contributions, such as the “Rube Goldberg’s Sideshow”, which was his last efforts on creating comic strip back in 1939. His cartooning career was followed by his editorial cartoons, which later won him the Pulitzer Prize as was mentioned earlier. The “Reuben Awards” was actually named after the cartoonist.
Goldberg had certainly proven himself time and again to be creative, prolific and effective. In a way, he had proven that work as an artist could also be profitable and make a great impact all over the world.

By working for several newspapers and producing several comic strip series, Goldberg was able to make a dynamic and exciting career for himself. He would not have been able to achieve this if he had stuck around as an engineer although he had definitely learned from all the fields that he was able to dabble with. His past and present learning was able to complement his artistry.


During Rube Goldberg’s last decade of living, he shifted his attentions to sculpture. He was in his eighties and he wanted to try out something different after churning out tons of invention comics as well as other zany cartoons. His works still held his signature attention to detail but did not capture as large a following as his invention comic strips. However, it was still great to be able to see the Renaissance man hard at work again, creating the lifelike forms of animals and humans.


Rube Goldberg had a truly colorful career, both literally and figuratively. He was able to enjoy a career that he had chosen for himself – cartoonist and journalist – while also becoming internationally acclaimed and even recognized with awards. Goldberg was able to combine both his artistic and scientific side to create cartoons that made people laugh and think. It was a powerful combination. In the end, Goldberg’s name continued to resonate even decades after his death. He should be one of the primary models of current and future cartoonists.