Rube Goldberg

I am the co-editor and one of the writers for:
The Art of Rube Goldberg (Abrams ComicArts)
A giant hardcover art book stuffed with cartoons,
rare art and memorabilia from the family archives,
and much more! Selected by Jennifer George (Rube Goldberg's granddaughter),
co-edited by Charles Kochman and Paul Tumey (curator of this blog).
Original essays by Jennifer George, Adam Gopnik, Andrew Baron, Brian Walker,
Al Jaffe, Carl Linich, Peter Maresca, and Paul Tumey.

To see The Art of Rube Goldberg on Amazon, click here

Visit the Pinterest ART OF RUBE GOLDBERG board !
See more rare Rube Goldberg art and photos!

A youthful Rube Goldberg at age 54 -  Look Magazine, August 1938
A still from Rube's brief but memorable appearance in
the film Artists and Models (1937).
Click here to view Rube's scene in the movie.
In the movie, Rube is introduced by fellow cartoonist
Russel Patterson as "the original surrealist"

INVENTION CARTOONS ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

HUMAN INTEREST DAILY NEWSPAPER CARTOONS------------------------------------

COMIC STRIP & PANEL SERIES----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rube Goldberg's The Squawk Club (1945)

ADVERTISING CARTOONS ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pepsi and Pete (found in Screwball Sunday Supplement Vol.1 No. 4)


Rube Goldberg is most famous for his chain reaction invention cartoons - satires of both engineering and society

The Inventions of Professor Lucifer G. Butts, A.K. by Rube Goldberg
Collier's Weekly, August 3, 1929 

Reuben Lucius Goldberg (July 4, 1883 – December 7, 1970) was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. All American screwball comics stem from Rube Goldberg. Starting in 1907, Goldberg wrote and drew wacky, observational, and exaggerated screwball comics for various newspapers, creating the template that was refined by others. 

It could be said that the primary theme of Rube's comics is insanity as seen in everyday life

Goldberg was a powerhouse of originality and production. Largely remembered for his "invention-cartoons," Goldberg produced numerous other individual cartoon masterpieces that are now almost totally forgotten. He created an astonishing 60 original cartoon series from 1905-38, including Foolish QuestionsI'm the GuyMike and IkeTelephoniesBenny Sent MeBobo BaxterBoob McNutt, and Lala Palooza

Many of Goldberg's cartoons remain entertaining as sheer screwball farces and purely original cartoons. A great many of his cartoons hold both a fascination and a cautionary attitude towards America's obsession with modern technology. Because we are still immersed in an ever-accelerating technological world, Rube's technology-themed cartoons continue to resonate with modern readers to the extent that his name has now become synonymous with "a wacky, overly-complex invention." 

Nonetheless, Rube's legacy extends far beyond his technology cartoons. Rube Goldberg produced a vast body of work that is an American treasure, and yet very few of his cartoons have been reprinted since their original publication in daily newspapers 80 to 100 years ago. Rube Goldberg's legacy of cartoons is ripe for rediscovery, and hopefully this blog will help promote that.

More on Rube Goldberg's life and work to come. This page is a work in progress! Check back sometime and you'll find more here.

In the meanwhile, more information on Rube can be found at his Wikipedia article.

A very early 1909 article on Rube by Homer Davenport,  a famous illustrator of the day.
The article, perhaps one of the first  of this kind, trumpets Rube's rise
to fame after arriving in New York two years earlier. Davenport makes
particular mention of Rube's smash hit series, Foolish Questions.

Some nice quotes and insights on Rube's career
St. Petersburg Times, Jan 31, 1945
Rube Goldberg's Pepsi and Pete advertising comic strip,
discussed in the newspaper article above, was filled with good
gags and humorous inventions.

Rube Goldberg Videos

(List supplied by Jennifer George, Rube's granddaughter - thanks!)

Mouse Trap to Mars trailer: an excellent two minute overview of the annual RGM contest at Purdue.

A quick Rube Bio

"Something for Nothing" -- Rube draws a perpetual motion machine -- 1940

"Artists and Models" -- Rube drawing

OK-GO -- "This Too Shall Pass" -- Rube Goldberg machine music video.  35 million views, and counting...

Monks in Tibet  building their own Rube Goldberg Machine

Famous RG Honda commercial

Mythbusters Rube Goldberg Christmas show (

Pee Wee Herman's Rube Goldberg morning

The Truffle Shuffle sequence from The Goonies featuring a Rube Goldberg machine

Joseph Herscher and his amazing solution to turning the page of a newspaper -- NYT article and video


A Rube Goldberg Gallery of Rare Comics and Art

Foolish Questions - Goldberg 's first hit cartoon series.
Postcard manufacturer Barton and Spooner issued a series of signed "Foolish Questions" picture postcards around 1910 (series 213) that was enormously popular. 

1915: Mike and Ike - They Look Alike (these characters later appeared in Boob McNutt).
Were these the inspiration for Herge's Thompson and Thomson?

1920s - original art presented to fellow cartoonist Jimmy Hatlo

1920s - original art. The first strip is from the Sad, Sad Story series.

Above, the first three Bobo Baxter strips from 1927
This great screwball daily ran for only a year.

Rube makes screwball comedy from a trivial crime in a graphically impressive cartoon - 1925

1925 - Rube's daily strips of the 20s and early 30s covered a dizzying array of topics
Rube's cartoons were so popular they were the subject of a few sheet music folios

Click here to hear Billy Murray sing Rube's 1912 hit, I'm The Guy


Boob McNutt (Feb 22, 1925)
Rube's screwball Sunday comic, which ran from 1915-1934
March 14, 1926. The topper featured the charming
Bertha, the Siberian Cheesehound, also a character in Boob McNutt
(courtesy Carl Linich)

A rare poster from the 1919 Boob McNutt stage play. Recently sold at auction for $850

Rube Goldberg's last Sunday comic was a mixture of strips.

Not much is known about this LP cover  - looks to be from the late 1950s early 1960s.


Rube's 1904 yearbook photo - UCLA College of Mining

Young Rube Goldberg circa 1910-15. Rube used this
drawing table all his life. Now in the possession of
Jennifer George, his grand-daughter
and Director of Rube Goldberg, Inc.

Rube Goldberg at New York Evening Mail 1918

Above: 1916 - Rube created a hugely successful series of 7 early cartoon shorts for
Pathe in 1916. This was the year he also married his life-partner, Irma.
Perhaps Rube realized it was impossible to do both animated
cartoons and his newspaper cartoons -- and he chose the tried-and-true
route of his cartoon career, leaving the creation of animation empires to
hayseeds like Walt Disney. By all accounts, his animated films of 1916
were extremely funny and very popular.

1923: Rube Goldberg and George McManus in the Leviathan Orchestra

Rube enjoyed both golfing and making fun of golfing.

Cartoonist Billy DeBeck and Rube Goldberg

From the rotogravure section of the June 10, 1923 issue of the San Francisco Bulletin.
Left to right: Fontaine Fox, H.T. Webster, Charlie Voight, Bob Brinkerhoff (misspelled in the photo's caption), Billy De Beck, Harry Hershfield (also misspelled in the caption), Clare Briggs, and Rube Goldberg

1941: Rube Goldberg in his office working on an editorial cartoon 

Rube Goldberg demonstrating one of his invention cartoons,
circa late 1960s.

Press photo of Rube Goldberg drawing his last cartoon. This
appears to be the same drawing tables as in the earlier photo, above.

After a long and successful career as a humorist-cartoonist,
followed by an equally  successful career as political cartoonist,
Rube took up a 3rd career as a sculptor in the last years of his
life. Here, he sculpts a bust of Russian leader Khrushchev.

A Gallery of Books by Rube Goldberg

Rube's first cartoon collection
Foolish Questions. Boston: Small Maynard and Co., 1909

Two inscriptions by Rube in a 1909 edition of Foolish Questions. The second inscription, from 1962, is to
cartoonist and comics historian Jim Ivey, who wrote one of the definitive articles on Goldberg's comics (published in Nemo The Classic Comics Library #24, 1987).

1909 - RG's first illustrated book

1912 - A collection of Rube's newspaper cartoons
Chasing The Blues. New York: Doubleday, Page, and Co., 1912

Mike and Ike (They Look Alike). Comic Monthly #2. New York: Embee Distributing Company, 1921. (24 pages)

Foolish Questions. Comic Monthly #10. New York: Embee Distributing Company, 1921. (24 pages)

Life's Little Jokes. New Work: MS Publishing Company, 1924.

Is There A Doctor In The House? .New York: The John Day Company, 1929.
An original illustrated book based on two incidents in Rube's life in which he was forced to deal with what he experienced as the overbearing pomposity of the American doctor. The books chronicles his wife Irma's appendix operation, which he  also made into a 1928 Cosmopolitan magazine article,
"I, Rube Goldberg, Hereby Plead For Ether For Husbands, Too."
You can view a free digital scan of this entire book here

The Rube Goldberg Plan for the Post-War World. New York: Franklin Watts, 1944.

Music In The Zoo. New York: Mills Music Co., 1946

(co-authored with Sam Boal) Rube Goldberg's Guide to Europe. New York: Vanguard Press, 1954.

How to Remove the Cotton From A Bottle of Aspirin and Other Problems Solved. New York: Doubleday and Co.,  1959

Rube Goldberg vs. the Machine Age. New York: Hastings House Publishers, 1968.
A hodge-podge collection of  cartoons and memoir fragments.
The closest Rube came to a published autobiography. 

Rube Goldberg: Writer

Above: from "'Inside Dope' on Popular Cartoonists" Literary Digest, December 6, 1924

Rube Goldberg was as much a prose writer as he was a cartoonist and visual artist. As shown above, in the 1920s and 30s, he made bid for a career as a professional writer. As American newspaper comics were changing in this time, and Rube's screwball cartoons became out of vogue, it must have seemed a good idea to Rube to develop a second career as a writer.

Over the course of his life, Rube Goldberg wrote several books, dozens of articles, and even a novel and some short stories. As you might expect, much of his work was humorous. However, he also wrote some serious fiction, such as the excellent 1932 short story. "The Old Man Takes His Boy Back Home," reprinted in Peter Marzio's biography. Here's a partial list of his published non-fiction articles and stories. (From The Bancroft Library in Berkeley, California -- which holds the Rube Goldberg Archive. Also citations taken from Rube Goldberg His Life and Work by Pete Marzio, Harper and Row 1973. Lastly, a few of the citations from the collection and research of Paul C. Tumey)

Published Articles and Satire Written by Rube Goldberg

"My Answer to the Question: How Did You Put It Over?" American Magazine, March 1922

"The Growing Refinement of Prize Fighting" Vanity Fair, September 1923

"The Ideal Home Life of Famous Film Stars" Screenland March, 1924

"My New Passion for Modernist Art" Vanity Fair, July 1924 (reprinted in Arf Museum by Craig Yoe, Fantagraphics 2006)

"Left-handed Golf Courses: Our Greatest Need" The American Golfer, July 1924

"The Bobbed Hair Problem" Life, August 28, 1924

"What I Have Found Out About Money" Good Housekeeping, October 1924

"Bobbed Hair" Collier's, February 7, 1925

"I'd Like to Know Why --" Vanity Fair, May 1925

"It's the Little Things that Matter" Collier's, November 3, 1928 (with illustrations by Goldberg) (first appearance of Professor Butts, reprinted below)

"It Happened to a Rube" Saturday Evening Post, November 10, 1928

"Comics, New Style and Old" The Saturday Evening Post, December 15, 1928

"I, Rube Goldberg, Hereby Plead for Ether for Husbands, Too" Cosmopolitan, December 1928

"How's the Market?" Cosmopolitan, Sept. 1929 (with illustrations by Goldberg)

"Rube Goldberg's Lessons in Golf" The American Golfer, September 1929

"Is College Spirit the Bunk?" College Humor, December 1929

"Rube Goldberg's First Picture" Photoplay, December 1930 (with illustrations by Goldberg) (reprinted below)

"Nutty Inventions Paid Me a Million" Modern Mechanics, December 1930

"Some Call It Golf but I Call It Midget Insanity" Cosmopolitan, January 1931 (with illustrations by Goldberg)

"New Golf Ball Worse Than the Depression" Life, June 19, 1931

"What Do You Do with Your Spare Time?" Cosmopolitan, August 1931
"The Gentle Week-end Guest" College Humor, August 1931

"The Greatest Show on Earth ... Every 4 Years" Cosmopolitan, July 1932 (with illustrations by Goldberg)

"Vacation Is a Necessary Evil" Cosmopolitan, August 1932 (with illustrations by Goldberg)

"What Do I Know After Forty?" The Saturday Evening Post, December 3, 1932

"Thankless Children" Saturday Evening Post, March 25, 1933

"Nobody Listens" Saturday Evening Post, November 4, 1933

"I Am Always on Time" Liberty, March 23, 1935

"One O'Clock Sunday Dinner" Esquire, September 1935

"Buffet Supper: Try and Get It" Good Housekeeping, Sept. 1935 (with illustration by Goldberg)

"Speed the Parting Guest" Esquire, January 1936

"We Need More Left-handed Courses" Golf, May 1939

"Do We Play Golf for Pleasure" Golf, Winter Issue, 1939-40

"Pretty Soft" Redbook, October 1941

"Cartoons" Life, November 27, 1944

"Inventions We Need in 1949" Cosmopolitan, January 1949 (2 -page cartoon spread)

"Don't Try to Buy a Toy For a Child" Look, August 30, 1949 [1 page photo spread showing Rube shopping with his grandson, John, includes short humorous text by Rube]

"America's best Cartoonists in the Most Hilarious Art Exhibition of the Century" Pageant, July 1950 [ Screwball spoofs of classic art by Rube Goldberg, Ernie Bushmiller, Milton Caniff, and others]  

In his contribution to a spoof of classic art,
Rube put arms on the Venus de Milo.
(Pageant, July 1950)

"On the Privilege of Being Over Sixty" The Rotarian, October 1950

"I Always Make It A Rule" The Rotarian, September 1952

"What Is Slang" Service, October 1952

"The Key to Home" Perfect Home Magazine, May 1955

Introduction to Stephen Becker, Comic Art in America (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1959)

"Don't Brush Off All the Old Rules" Seventeen, September 1966

"Are You Afflicted With Promptitis?" Pageant, May 1968

"Rube Goldberg Speaks Out on Design Simplicity" EEE 1969

"Sixty-Six Years," Do It The Hard Way: Rube Goldberg and Modern Times (Washington D.C. : The National Museum pf History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, 1970)

Above: Rube's writing was published in a 1936 issue of Esquire which
also featured writing by Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound

Published Short Fiction by Rube Goldberg

"Bums" McNaught's Monthly, Feb. 1926
"Freaks" Vanity Fair, Mar. 1926
"The Outcast" Cosmopolitan, Apr. 1928

"A Breath of Fresh Air" Cosmopolitan, June 1931
"The Old Man Takes His Boy Home" Cosmopolitan, Jan. 1932 (reprinted in Rube Goldberg His Life and Work by Peter Marzio, Harper and Row, 1973)
"You Gotta Be Phoney" Redbook, Mar. 1934
"Read 'Em and Weep" American Magazine, Aug. 1935 (reprinted in Hogan's Alley 2)
"Horning In" Redbook, Sept. 1935

This extremely entertaining article is a sarcastic account of Rube's experience as a Hollywood  writer in 1929-30. The film that emerged from this experience was Soup to Nuts (1930), with a script by Goldberg,
and featuring the Three Stooges in their first film.

Articles and Books About Rube Goldberg

Compiled by Paul Tumey and Brian Walker

Last updated April 3, 2013

Adams, Mary Louise. Unpublished audio interview with Rube Goldberg, June 13, 1964.

Axtell, Matthew. “Garbage Can Music: Rube Goldberg’s Three Careers,” Columbia Journal of American Studies 7, 2006, 30-65.

Blackbeard, Bill. “Bobo and Boob – And the Immortal Rube” forward to Bobo Baxter The Complete Daily Strip 1927-1928. Westport, Connecticut: Hyperion Press, Inc., 1977.

Blackbeard, Bill and Martin Williams. The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press and New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1977.

Buhle, Paul. From the Lower East Side to Hollywood: Jews In American Popular Culture. London: Verso, 2004.

Capp, Al. “I Remember Rube, the Chaplin of the Funny Pages,” Smithsonian, November, 1970.

“Cartooning:  To Make Them Laugh,” Time, May 1, 1964.

“Comic Artist Gets $50,000 a year Salary,” New York Times Magazine, January 30, 1916, 19.

“Comics – and Their Creators, Rube Goldberg,” Literary Digest, 1937.

Curry, Wilson, “Meet Rube Goldberg,” Mechanix Illustrated, February 1959, 80-81, 182-185.

Davenport, Homer, “Homer Davenport Gives Real Dope on Goldberg,” San Francisco Bulletin, January 15, 1909.

“Death of a Master Machinist,” Time, December 21, 1970.

“Doc Wright – A New Story Strip by Rube Goldberg,” The McNaught Syndicate, Inc. advertisement, Editor & Publisher, January 13, 1934.

Garner, Phillip. Rube Goldberg, A Retrospective. New York: Delilah Communications, Ltd., 1983.

“Goldberg – A Story of Success: How A Young Man Climbed in Nine Years From No Job to a Millionaire’s 
Income,” New York Tribune, January 26, 1916.

Goode, K.M.  “Why I Admire Boob McNutt, Circulation, April 1923.

Goulart, Ron, ed. The Encyclopedia of American Comics. New York: Facts on File, 1990.

Holtz, Allan. American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2012.

Humor In Sculpture – Rube Goldberg Exhibition. New York: Hammer Gallery, 1968.

Hurd, Jud. “To Cartooning” 60 years of Magic. Fairfield, Connecticut: Profiles Press, 1993, pages 46-49.

“’Inside Dope’ On Popular Cartoonists,” Literary Digest, December,1924.

Ivey, Jim, “The Many Comic Inventions of Rube Goldberg,” Nemo: The Classic Comics Library No. 24, February 1987.

Keller, Charles. The Best of Rube Goldberg. New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1979.

Kramer, Hilton.  “Laughter That Is Close to Tears” (review of exhibition at Truman Gallery), The New York Times, January 16, 1977.

“Lala Palooza,” Time, November 9, 1936.

Lardner, Ring, “Reuben, or the Young Artist,” Collier’s, April 13, 1929.

“Leading Cartoonists of America – Reuben L. Goldberg of the New York Evening Mail,” Editor & Publisher, May 31, 1913.

Lowell Alumni Association Archives, 1101 Eucalyptus Drive, San Francisco CA 94132.

Lynes, Russell.  “Rube Goldberg – His Life and Work” (review of Peter Marzio book), The New York Times, December 16, 1970.

Mann, Adam. “A Cracked Slate: In Search of Rube Goldberg’s Barodik,” California, Spring 2010.

Marschall, Richard. “Rube Goldberg,” Nemo: The Classic Comics Library Annual 1 – Screwball Comics, 1985.

Marzio, Peter, ed. Do It The Hard Way: Rube Goldberg and Modern Times. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1970.

Marzio, Peter. “Art, Technology, and Satire: The Legacy of Rube Goldberg,” Leonardo 5, 1972.

Marzio, Peter. Rube Goldberg: His Life and Work. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1973.

Medbury, John P. “Simple Boob McNutt Has Won Fame For ‘Rube’ Goldberg, The Cartoonist,” The Indianapolis Sunday Star, July 8, 1923.

Medbury, John P.  “The Cartoonist’s Mirror” (profile of Rube Goldberg), Circulation, September 1921.

Murphy, Jimmy.  “Some Inside Dope on a Few of My Fellow ‘Comickers’” Circulation, April 1923.

Nathan, Emily. “Oral History Interview With Rube Goldberg,” Archives of American Art, 1970.

Okun, Henry. Rube Goldberg Memorial Exhibition: Drawings from the Bancroft Library. Berkeley, California: 
University Art Museum, 1971.

Pew, Marlen. “Goldberg to Draw Editorial Cartoons,” Editor & Publisher, November 1938.

“Reuben Goldberg to Marry,” Editor & Publisher, September 2, 1916.

“R.L. Goldberg’s Salary Raised to $50,000 a Year,” The Evening Mail Syndicate, Inc. advertisement, Editor & Publisher, October 1915.

Romero, Dan. ‘Wizard of Wacky Inventions,” Mechanix Illustrated, September 1946.

“Rube Goldberg Denies That He’s A ‘Nut’ And Explains Place of Logic In Cartoons,” The Daily Princetonian, October 11, 1930.

Rube Goldberg official website,

“Rube Goldberg Shapes New Career; He’s 80,” Editor & Publisher, April 25, 1964.

Sheridan, Martin. Classic Comics and Their Creators. Boston: Cushman and Flint, 1942.

Staunton, Helen M. “Goldberg Revives Butts in 40th Year,” Editor & Publisher, December 22, 1945.

“They Have Picked the Locks of Fortune with Pens,” Editor & Publisher, October 27, 1917.

Tumey, Paul. “Mule Kicks, Boy Bounces, Eccentrics Perpetrate Chaos,” Society is Nix: Gleeful Anarchy in 

American Newspaper Comics 1895-1915. Sunday Press, 2013.

Tumey, Paul. The Masters of Screwball Comics,

Walker, Brian. The Comics: Before 1945. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2004.

Walker, Brian. The Comics: Since 1945. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2006.

 “What Makes a Paper Bright?  Ideas!  Who has Ideas?  Cartoonist Goldberg!” Evening Mail Syndicate advertisement, Editor & Publisher, November 17, 1917.

Whitman, Alden.  “Rube Goldberg, Cartoonist, Dies at 87,” The New York Times, December 8, 1970.

Williams College Museum of Art, George W. George Rube Goldberg Collection,

Wolfe, Maynard Frank. Rube Goldberg: Inventions! New York: Simon and Shuster, 2000.



Here are links to major collections of Rube Goldberg cartoons and interesting articles about him and his work

The Official Rube Goldberg website, owned and maintained by members of Rube's family. Includes products you can buy and large gallery of cartoons! Interesting news about various Rube-related projects, including the Rube Goldberg Machine Contests they sponsor.

Rube's son, the Broadway and film producer George W. George, gave the college 549 Rube originals. George was an alumni of the College (class of 1941). The above link should take you to an online catalog of the originals where you can view low res scans. Unfortunately, many of the scans are too small to read and the spotty notes show a basic ignorance of Rube's career. Nonetheless, some of the single panels, such as the Foolish Questions above, and the one-page illustrations can be read. Hopefully someday the College will do a better job of displaying these pieces in their emuseum.

In 1964, Rube gave his vast collection of 10,000 pieces of original art, articles, writings, letters, and memorabilia to his alma mater, the University of California. The collection is housed at the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, CA. This link takes you to a listing of the holdings, which is fascinating reading in itself.

The Smithsonian Insitution
List of Rube Goldberg artwork, sculpture, and related items held by the Smithsonian Institution. In 1970, the Smithsonian held a major retrospective exhibit on Rube Goldberg. It was directed by Daniel Boorstin (his first exhibit as the Institution's Director) and curated by Peter Marzio (who published a biography of Rube Goldberg in 1973).

I enjoyed reading this 2010 blog posting filled with appreciation and insights about Rube's humor.

Note - all cartoons, images, and photos on this page are copyright Rube Goldberg, Inc. and used with permission. Anything else is (c) 2014 Paul C. Tumey. The information on this page represents a significant effort of research, scholarship and writing by Paul C. Tumey and as such may not be copied and used for other purposes with my written permission.

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