I was recently asked to write an article about my Baby001 webcomic for one of the NCT newsletters. It was fun to look back across the five years of producing the comic and think about how it all got started. Of course I realise that only a very small subset of my blog readers will also be subscribers to the NCT newsletter, so I thought it was worth sharing the article here as well. If you’ve every wondered where the idea for Baby001 came from, you can find out below.
My baby-related webcomic started life as a way to fulfil an essential need of every husband or partner – avoiding getting into trouble with my extremely pregnant wife! I have a habit of making jokes and silly comments, many of which my wife didn’t want to hear when we were at a doctor’s appointment. Or when she was in the bathroom suffering with morning sickness. I think the final straw came during an ultrasound scan. As we watched our unborn daughter wriggle around on the monitor I observed that she currently looked a lot like Patrick Moore and I didn’t go much on this episode of ‘The Sky at Night’. Judging my wife’s request that I “just shut up please” to be perfectly reasonable, I decided to find a different outlet for my baby-related humour. And so – much like my daughter a month later – the webcomic Baby001 was born. Why the name “Baby001”? Well at that point I didn’t know how many children we’d end-up having and wanted to ‘future-proof’ the naming scheme. As I’m sure you can imagine, my wife’s face was quite a picture when I explained this to her.
That first episode was over five years ago now, and I’m still going strong with a couple of episodes a week. I passed the 500th episode back in May, which was quite a milestone. The comic has seen a number of changes over the years. I’m not much of an artist – drawing is hard and I tip my poorly-rendered hat to those who can do it – so I had to settle for publicly available vector art to paste together the basic episode template. If you think it’s annoying when your child outgrows all their clothes, just wait until they outgrow your webcomic art and you have to produce some more! On the other hand, each updated piece of art is a nice record of my daughter growing up. The first time she crawled, her first steps and many other moments are now time-stamped and immortalised in glorious 2D monochrome vector art. Browsing through the episodes from a few years ago is already a nice trip down memory lane for my wife and I, and I can’t wait to look back on them and reminisce about things we’d have otherwise forgotten in ten, twenty or thirty years time!
Of course an even bigger change came when the comic’s generic parent characters Chester and Marsha (who are definitely not my wife and I, honest) and Baby001 were joined by the new addition of Baby002! That was an even bigger update for the art! The addition of a second child allowed me to revisit some of the jokes and observations from much earlier episodes and explore what was the same and what differed about this new addition to our family. I was entirely shocked to learn that every child is completely different! Who knew?!
Thankfully having two children provides a near endless source of material to write about. It helps that my daughter is very funny, something I can only assume that she gets that from her mother. Some of the conversations in the comic are essentially verbatim, some are artistic license and some are my attempts at genuinely helpful parenting advice with an added punchline to disguise it as a webcomic gag. My daughter doesn’t know I’m stealing her material, but that will be a nice surprise on her eighteenth birthday. Perhaps I’ll present her with a printed and bound book of every episode of Baby001 so far? I’m sure she’d rather have a car for her eighteenth birthday, but her disappointment will make an excellent meta-episode for the following week’s comic.
I don’t just steal my daughter’s words though, there are some of my own in there too. We have a saying in our house when something funny happens: “That’s a 001!”. So what about the future of Baby001? How long will I keep it going? Having reached 500 episodes, it seems a shame not to try and make it all the way to 1000 episodes now! But realistically I will keep making Baby001 so long as people find it enjoyable to read and I have something to say. As soon as neither of those things are the case then it’ll be time to call it a day.
But I think that day is a long way off yet. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Baby001! You can find every episode at baby001.webcomic.ws. And if you’re feeling brave or have a lot of time on your hands – like you’re stuck in hospital with a broken leg or something – then click the ‘First Comic’ button at the top of the page to catch-up with Baby001 from the very beginning!