rocket bye baby


Kyle Baker 1999: “Letitia Lerner, Superman’s Babysitter” from Elseworlds 80-page Giant

Hoo-boy! Sometimes the story behind the scene is as interesting — and hilarious — as what’s on the page. Baker’s story caused DC to pulp it’s (almost) entire run (presumably out of fear people would start putting babies in microwaves); but a few copies in Europe escaped their fate and were released online to rave reviews. Then Frank Miller personally campaigned for it to win an Eisner, and after it did, DC ended up re-releasing the story several times over in various collections. Baker recalls the fracas with Modern Masters…

Dan Raspier was the editor, and he hired me to do an Elseworlds story. I wanted to do this babysitter story—I had a brand new baby who was tearing the joint up, so that’s what gave me the idea. It was very much inspired by a Chuck Jones cartoon about a guy who accidentally adopts an alien baby [Editor’s note: “Rocket-Bye Baby,” 1956]. He adopts a little Martian, but he doesn’t know it’s a Martian, so he starts chasing the baby around thinking it’s going to get hurt. There’s a lot of cartoons like that. Popeye did the same kind of jokes. Babies in trouble are a cartoon staple.
But Paul Levitz, for some reason, didn’t like it. Dan called and said, “I’ve got bad news. Paul doesn’t like your story.” “Okay, whatever.” These things happen; they happen all the time. But Frank Miller really liked the story, and he started campaigning to get this thing an Eisner Award. [laughter] He was talking it up in Sin City, and he ended up getting the thing an Eisner Award for Best Short Story of the Year. [laughter] It got leaked to the Internet, so people could read it online.