Patrick McDonnell, who draws funny little people for our SCORECARD section, also draws a monthly comic strip for Parents magazine about a funny little kid who's forever getting into big trouble. "Bad Baby" is the name of the strip, and also of a collection just published by Ballantine Books that will delight all the thirtysomethings who know the terrors of child rearing. "Patrick's a master at capturing the peculiar way small children look at the world," says SI senior editor Margaret Sieck, who has two little tempests of her own.
McDonnell, who has been married six years, isn't a father himself, but, he says, "I think artists in general have good memories, and a lot of things from my youth come into play with 'Bad Baby.' And luckily, my nephew, Kevin, was born into our family about the same time I conceived the strip." In fact, seven-year-old Kevin O'Connell was the inspiration for the panel on this page. "Kevin was learning how to write the letter X, and when we left him alone for a while he took his crayon and put X's on the floor, the walls—all over the place. He was really proud of himself." Obviously, enthusiasm for colorful expression runs in the family.
Bad Baby is McDonnell's third book but his first solo effort. In 1986 he and his wife, Karen, and Georgia De Havenon cowrote a homage to Krazy Kat's creator, George Herriman. And last year McDonnell did the illustrations for 100% American, a book of various lists and polls written by Daniel Evan Weiss. (Did you know that 70% of those who wear jogging shoes don't jog?)
McDonnell isn't sure where Baby's headed next. "Maybe he'll become a Bad Teenager," he says. Or perhaps he'll even turn up in SCORECARD one day. He's interested in sports, after all. "He's very good at Olympic bed-bouncing," says McDonnell, "and he also plays a mean game of hide-and-seek."
March 13, 1989
P.S. "Sports Feelings," a joint exhibit of photos from SI and the Soviet magazine Olympic Panorama, has moved from the Smithsonian Institution to the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. It will be there through April 30.