At some point after Rick and Sukey’s first daughter was born in 1984, it occurred to Jerry that something remarkable was happening at the Kirkmans’ house. Rick and Sukey were changing from being a couple to being a family. Frankly, the process wasn’t exactly accomplished with swan-like grace, but it was genuinely funny and almost universally familiar. Jerry and his wife, Kim, moved back to Phoenix in 1987, and he and Rick started to work on coming up with a strip together. Progress was hampered by the birth of the Kirkman’s second daughter, turning creative sessions to therapy sessions. Jerry doesn’t remember who suggested the idea of a strip about this subject, but after about six months of brainstorming, the idea arrived and they both liked it. No one has ever accused them of being quick on the uptake.
Disregarding two or three mutations of the original concept of a strip about a young family, Rick and Jerry’s first attempt was named OH, BABY!
Along with its rejection came the suggestion that Rick and Jerry try the idea as a panel. Never being ones to disregard the advice of a major syndicate, Rick and Jerry promptly reworked the idea and created BABY BLUES, the panel.That one came back with the admonition that panels are too hard to sell… perhaps Rick and Jerry might consider turning it into a strip. Ignoring the growing similarity to a dog chasing its own tail, BABY BLUES became a strip again with new material and refined characters.
The new improved version received interest from three syndicates. One syndicate asked to see more strips, but with an older child in the family, which Rick and Jerry did. Then they wanted to see more strips like the original concept, but with a continuing storyline… which Rick and Jerry did. Then they said, “no thanks.”
Although Rick and Jerry still believed in BABY BLUES (the strip), at that point they had decided that they were either way ahead of their time, or too stupid to
know a bad idea when they saw one.
Then one afternoon Jerry received a call from Anita Medeiros of Creators Syndicate. Anita said that they loved the strip, apologized for not getting back to Rick and Jerry sooner and asked if they would be interested in discussing contract terms. They were, they did, and BABY BLUES’ first syndicated strip appeared in about 55 newspapers on January 7, 1990. The lesson here is, to thine own opinion be true.