LALA PALOOZAOriginal medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: Frank Jay Markey Syndicate
First Appeared: 1936
Creator: Rube Goldberg
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to Boob McNutt, the fabulous inventions that can make even the simplest tasks complicated beyond belief, or even the Foolish Questions that constituted the first of his many claims to fame. In fact, if anybody but Goldberg had created her, she'd undoubtedly have suffered the same fate as Vic Forsythe's The Little Woman, F.O. Alexander's Effie Sponk and most of her other short-lived contemporaries — near-oblivion.
Lala (no relation to Astro Boy's friend Lala Palooza) was originally designed as a fat clown, but that version didn't survive all the way to print. By the time it was actually published, Lala illustrated the idea that God's blessings are rationed, so no one person gets too many of them. Some people are beautiful but poor; some are smart but ugly; Lala was rich but not very bright. She'd apparently been married at one time, as her brother had a different last name (and wasn't as well heeled), but Mr. Palooza was not to be seen. The man in her life was the brother, Vince Doolittle, a lazy opportunist who was full of ideas. Vince often seemed to be the star of the comic.
The strip began in 1936 as both a daily and a Sunday, from the Frank Jay Markey syndicate. This was a very small outfit, with company ties to McNaught (The Bungle Family, Dixie Dugan). The Markey syndicate didn't make much of a splash in the comics world, but did manage to field Sparky Watts, by Boody Rogers.
There are conflicting reports about how long Lala lasted in newspapers. It may still have been running as late as 1939, but the syndicate advertised it in Editor & Publisher for only one year; and those ads are the source of much of our knowledge about comic strip durability. Certainly, however, she was gone from the newspapers by the end of the decade.
But her series did live on in comic books. Feature Funnies, which later became Feature Comics, reprinted it every month starting with its first issue (October, 1937). In fact, when Goldberg's material ran out (after the August, 1939 issue), it was continued with new stuff by his assistant, John Devlin (Molly the Model, no relation), who slimmed her down some (tho she was still pretty plump). When he moved on, Bernard Dibble (The Captain & the Kids) took over. She even made it to the cover almost two dozen times between 1940 and '44, where she was usually drawn by Gill Fox (Torchy). Feature Comics was the Quality Comics title where Doll Man, The Spider Widow and several other characters first appeared.
Lala hung around there until the very last issue, #144 (May, 1950). She had one last fling in 1963, when comics industry bottom feeder Israel Waldman (Phantom Lady, Yankee Girl) reprinted part of an issue of Feature under the title Star Feature Comics (presumably without permission, as usual), but that was the last of her.