Rube Goldberg vs. Heath Robinson

This thread,, reminded me of something I’ve always wondered about.

Is there any connection between W. Heath Robinson and Rube Goldberg? Both were known for their cartoons of overly complicated methods for doing mundane tasks. Was one man “inspired by” (or less charitably, “ripping off”) the other? Or is this just a case of a good concept being independently developed by two different people at about the same time?

Rube Goldberg Gallery.

W. Heath Robinson Gallery.

I don’t see that they’re related at all. Rube Goldberg did “contraptions”, “gadgets” to accomplish “how to do it” kind of things.

Robinson just has a kind of “story cartoon” thing going, but he’s not giving “instructions” for how to accomplish tasks, that I can see. He’s just drawing pictures of “what if” situations. “What would six baby cribs all together look like?”

They are frequently described as “the American Heath Robinson” and “the British Rube Goldberg” respectively.

I think Heath Robinson (who was a professional illustrator - see here) pre-dates Goldberg by a couple of decades or so. In theory, Goldberg might have stolen the idea from - sorry, “been inspired by” - Robinson, but it’s not at all apparent from the work. And Goldberg trained as an engineer, so might have had a habit of thinking up new gadgets. You could argue they both stole the idea from Leonard’s drawings of flying machines, tanks and other devices.

As for styles, Goldberg is very much a cartoonist, Robinson an illustrator. The latter’s near-surrealism gives him the edge, IMO.