Supporting Cast: Hammie of BABY BLUES
Tea here! I don’t usually address you folks directly, but I’ve been writing Supporting Cast for about a year now, and next week, I’m going to be starting a new, slightly different blog feature in the Friday slot on the DailyINK blog. Thanks so much for reading along this year, and I hope you’ll enjoy my new posts starting next week.
As the real-life older sister to a little brother, I’ve always particularly enjoyed reading Hamish “Hammie” MacPherson’s brotherly antics in Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott’s BABY BLUES. Rick and Jerry were kind enough to talk to me about Hammie this week!
As I’m sure you all know, Hammie is the second kid in the MacPherson clan. Jerry says, “Hammie is the second kid we inflicted on Darryl and Wanda MacPherson. His role in the strip has evolved from Additional Chaos Factor to Chief Sister Annoyer. He’s a fairly rambunctious kid with a lot of time on his hands and a flair for the destructive.”
When BABY BLUES first began, the MacPhersons were the parents of a single, girl baby, Zoe. Hammie was introduced later, in an effort to stir things up a bit:
“Hammie was born soon after my older daughter was born,” says Jerry. “I had been writing the strip from the point of view of a non-parent for several years, and when my daughter came along, I had a lot of new baby material gained from first-hand experience. Darryl and Wanda had become used to the routine of having as baby in the house, and Hammie was a great upsetter of the status quo.
“Being the middle kid and only boy (that was my place in the birth order, too), Hammie has the responsibility of being both annoying to, and protective of his sisters. It’s not an easy job. He’s responsible for more monetary damage overall, but I would say that he has a smaller emotional footprint in the family that his sisters.”
“Hammie is kind of an anomaly in our strip,” says Rick. “Jerry and I each have two girls, so we don’t really have any experience raising boys. We pretty much have to rely on Jerry’s ability to channel his childhood self.”
Jerry says, “adding Hammie as the second child broadened the scope of the strip. Two kids isn’t twice as much work as one. It’s exponential. The effect on the MacPherson family was more Richter than Spock. The presence of a boy in the family also gives us the opportunity to highlight the differences in the ways the two sexes can experience the world.”
Rick and Jerry didn’t necessarily know what they were getting into when they introduced the character. Jerry says: “Hammie’s personality, like the other characters in the strip has evolved as he’s grown. It would have been pretty silly to have written him with a built-in personality from birth. We started to get to know him from the zygote stage, and his personality has changed and expanded over time.”
Rick adds: “One thing Hammie provides is contrast. Little boys have an innate ability to turn even the most mundane tasks into an adventure or sport. It’s something that baffles females sometimes. This occasionally comes out in Darryl’s personality, and with Hammie around, it gives Darryl permission to revisit the kid in himself.”
And it gives Rick and Jerry permission to create fun physical comedy: “The gags I tend to like about Hammie are the ones that have a lot of opportunity for drawing action. That’s Hammie: International Little Cartoon Man of Action,” says Rick.
And Hammie’s future remains wide open while his creators focus on the present: “I have no idea what Hammie will be when he grows up, other than two dimensional,” says Jerry. “Ornery little brothers have become everything from cowboys to nuclear physicists, artists to um, cartoonists. Our only job is to mine the funny and turn it into a comic strip that consistently makes people smile.”
And thanks everyone for reading Supporting Cast! I’ll be back next week with something new for you all to enjoy!