Story File: Ma, Pa and Baby Ba
Family life was the basis for many a comic strip in the 1970s. Buster, Sweeny Toddler, Sid’s Snake, Shiner, Fuss Pot, Bumpkin Billionaires and countless other stories all relied heavily on goings-on in and around the family home. Some stories focused on particular family relationships, such as Oh, Brother! and Why, Dad, Why? A small number were based on a complete family dynamic: Full House in Knockout and Happy Families in Whizzer and Chips spring immediately to mind, although the most successful of all must be The Broons, of DC Thomson’s Sunday Post newspaper.
Ma, Pa and Baby Ba falls within the latter category although it’s an odd one in that the family of three doesn’t include any members representing the age of Whizzer and Chips’ target readership. The strip, which ran from May to December 1972, was pretty much a one-gag idea – mother and father are stressed by parenthood of their demanding baby – and weekly stories usually centred on Pa taking Ba out in the pram. One-gag strips aren’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, the repetition of the same joke or scenario can sometimes create great comedy – but I don’t think this one really works. There isn’t a whole lot going on for readers to care about. Parents and baby giving each other grief? Great! Let them get on with it, but don’t bother me with the details – I’m too busy pranking the parkie or foiling a bank raid. Parent-and-baby storylines could work – Sweeny Toddler is testament to that – but they would need a lot more spice about them than Ma, Pa and Baby Ba.