Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Parenting woes translate into laughs for 'Baby Blues' creators

By William Loeffler
Friday, August 13, 2004

Artist Rick Kirkman and writer Jerry Scott were banging their heads against the wall, trying to come up with an idea for a comic strip.
Kirkman eventually realized that the best idea was lying a crib in the next room, screaming her head off.
"Baby Blues" was born not long after Kirkman's baby daughter. The comic strip follows harried parents Darryl and Wanda MacPherson as they try to raise three young children, Zoe, Hamish and 6-month-old Wren. The MacPherson family has moved in this week to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review comics neighborhood.
"Originally, the strip started when my wife and I had our second child, who was really a huge handful," Kirkman says, when reached by phone in Arizona. "She was very colicky. She didn't even sleep through he night until she was 3 1/2 years old."

They call those babies "mother killers," he says.
"Pretty much the strip evolved as a catharsis kind of thing," Kirkman says. "Jerry and I were trying to come up with an idea for a comic strip. Every time we got together, the conversation degenerated into me spilling my guts about what was going on at home with the baby."
Other parents now spill their guts to Kirkman and Scott, relating baby stories that they think the duo could use as ideas in "Baby Blues." But Kirkman says he and Scott rarely use them.
"Usually those sort of things, you just kind of have to be there," he says. "You have to be in the family and know everyone in the family to know what made it funny. That context doesn't translate to everybody else. If I was in your home and you had something going on with your kid or your baby and we happened to see it, that might spark an idea for a gag. It's the stuff that we see while nobody's paying attention that provides the germ for gags."

Nevertheless, visitors to the "Baby Blues" Web site are encouraged to submit baby pictures and "horror stories from the parenting front."
Kirkman's two children are grown now. But Scott obligingly became a parent himself.
"He'll do anything for a gag," Kirkman says.
Some children come along at the most unexpected times.
Tony Cochran was a respected painter who exhibited in the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio. He also worked in an auto body shop to pay the bills. His goal was to get an exhibition of his paintings in New York.
Then came "Agnes," an inquisitive, somewhat somber 10-year-old girl who lives a penny-pinching existence in a trailer with her grandmother. Wise beyond her years, Agnes dreams of greater things. A carefree childhood this isn't.
We know you'll give Agnes a warm welcome in the Trib.
William Loeffler can be reached at wloeffler@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7986.

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