Who Is Your Daddy And What Does He Do?

The BIGGEST MERCH SALE I HAVE EVER DONE  is happening RIGHT NOW in the HE STORE and ends on 9/21/13!!! $10 Books! $9 Shirts! Other things! Different Prices!

This is essentially the first comic of the rebooted redirectionalized (no WAY this is a real word) HijiNKS ENSUE. The storyline before this serves as a sort of bridge between the pop culture based, continuity free strips and the new stuff. It’s not going to be all parenting stuff from here on out. That’s just how I’m choosing to start this phase of my work, because that (being a parent) was the entire reason I started the comic and eventually started The Experiment. It seems fitting that this new chapter in The Experiment begins with comics about the impetus for The Experiment itself and a discussion of one of the ideals I brought up in my original Experiment writings.

There is this pervasive idea that “artist” is not a job. A concept that in order to be an artist or a musician or an independent anything, you must ALSO have a “respectable” day job. The short version of my thesis on the subject is that art, music, comedy, drama enrich the lives of essentially every person who lives on this planet, yet most of those people would consider those professions as fake or unattainable “you’re deluding yourself” dreams. Well, that is until those careers are practiced at their absolute apex. No one scoffs at the career path of an international pop star or an Oscar winner. Yet they seem to forget that everyone they admire in entertainment started as a “deluded dreamer.” Further more, they don’t seem to realize that intense satisfaction, personal worth, accomplishment and even financial gain can be made from just doing the thing (usually the art) that you want to do for a considerably smaller audience. I, and thousands like me, are proof that this idea is outdated and irrelevant, to say the least. Yesterday my kid said she can’t decide is she wants to be “a veterinarian or a famous artist.” She pointed out that a vet gets to be around cute animals all day (plus one in the vet column), but she already knows from me selling prints of her artwork at conventions (for which she gets all of the money) that drawing something once and getting paid for it over and over is NOT too shabby of a gig. There are far worse ways to make a living.

My daughter has actually had a pretty good handle on what I do for a living for a couple of years now. She once said, “You draw pictures for your friends and if they like them, they pay you for them.” That’s not SUPER far off from entirely accurate. She also understands that I don’t to go to work away from home every day, but in exchange I have to leave for a convention 3-4 days a month. I’ve convinced her this is a more than fair trade and a small price to pay. When a stranger asks me what I do, and I don’t want to get into specifics I’ll usually say I’m a cartoonist. They’ll ask what cartoons I draw (they almost ALWAYS assume “cartoonist means “animator”), and I’ll say I do my own cartoons online. This typically ends the conversation because that sounds like I’m saying, “I don’t have a job but I fuck around on the Internet a lot.” If I just want to shut the conversation down and, say, finish my haircut in silent peace I will say I am “an illustrator.” NO ONE has a follow up question for that one. Not entirely sure why, either.

COMMENTERS: Have you ever had a hard time explaining what it is you do, or what your spouse, parents or kids do? 


If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr you probably already know that I have recently joined with Hiveworks for my hosting and advertising needs. They are a digital publisher and advertising network, AND a pretty great group of comics pros that form a guild of publishers, artists, business types and David Willis. I suggest you check out their roster of comics, their affiliates and anything else they have to offer since my current financial situation relies somewhat on their success.

I will also take this time to make a friendly reminder: If you like HijiNKS ENSUE and you want to see it continue, please do not use an ad blocker on my site. Use it for every other website (accept for those run by independent artist types) if you must, but please whitelist this site and allow me to continue making a living from the free content I give away. Thanks!

Comments (81)

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Macman's avatar

Macman · 92 weeks ago

I work in capacity planning and performance monitoring and management of IT systems. I have a hell of a time explaining my job to people…assuming I can even keep them awake long enough to get through the explanation. My son has come to work with me a couple of times, and I still don’t think he could tell anyone what I do.

4 replies · active 92 weeks ago

So…what do you do?
Macman's avatar

Macman · 92 weeks ago

What? That first sentence didn’t explain it all?

I used to performance test web applications to ensure that they can handle the expected user loads that they will experience in our production environment and also making sure that we have the system capacity on the floor to take on the new application and user loads. Lately I’ve been working more on implementing tools to monitor application performance in our test and production environments. Asleep yet?

That sounds exactly like what my buddy does. He has stopped explaining it to people. Now he just says “I work on the parts of cell phone games you don’t really see.”
Macman's avatar

Macman · 92 weeks ago

That’s a good answer, actually. I may have to steal it.
I saw this, read your follow up, and can totally relate. My wife, as it were, has the “real” job working in an office, whereas I’m an actor. I’m doing everything I can to make what I do my source of income, but people always ask me, “When are you going to get a job?” As if the acting thing is not work in itself between the auditions and classes, and doing small parts for little to no pay isn’t work, I find it hard to explain. However, I do think I might need some type of work to keep myself busy or at least to support the career path I’m carving for myself.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Stagegeek's avatar

Stagegeek · 92 weeks ago

I can certainly relate. I went to school for theatre, and haven’t done a bit of it since, working jobs to keep my head above water which did not allow the time free to act. I have now started a regular 9-5, and have started auditioning again (just this week, the Broadway Bound show “National Passtime” at Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre). My wife is an artist/creative guru. She has not held a regular 9-5 type job for 3 years now, and does her best to help out around the house as much as she can. Unfortunately, we have yet to find the market for her brand of art, which she describes as “Vividly Cheerful Abstract Art”, which can all be found available for purchase at ww.spkcreative.com.
Rich's avatar

Rich · 92 weeks ago

I (hope I) speak for everyone when I say I will continue not to use an adblocker as long as you continue not to sell space to ads that want blocking (noisy one, autoplayers, malware installers, etc). Keep up the good work (and the reasonably palatable ads) and we’ll keep up the page views. :)b
JoJo's avatar

JoJo · 92 weeks ago

i agree with the good fellow up there. i always disable adblock for the webcomics i read. as for my job, since i juggle myself between 2 or 3 jobs regularly, i say that “i do things, fix problems, know people”

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

You are obviously a contract killer.
You’re the IT guy, then
Crotalus's avatar

Crotalus · 92 weeks ago

True… but only the offspring are capable of that devastatingly vicious bitchslap to the ego.
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 92 weeks ago

You obviously haven’t met my mum…
I was gonna say… Im sure for a lot of people the ego hit would be WORSE coming from their parents. My mom has little to no idea what I actually do. She knows I draw comics and put them on the internet but I think the comprehension stops there.
Adblock disabled!

I’m a high school teacher, but when people ask I reply that I am a forensic anthropologist who specialises in embryos. “I poke your babies until they do what I want.”

mist's avatar

mist · 92 weeks ago

tends to puzzle me a bit, about the “don’t come home to a pigsty”, and when others mention childcaring with regards to laundry and cooking. Do they assume that single people doing other jobs don’t have to look after their domicile or prepare their own food?. (I know there’s more to home management than just that, but those don’t go away just because you work 10-15 hrs in a “real” job)
it’s part of the benefit of a relationship in general. If two people are working, both have to share that workload but also share in the extra money that comes in. IF one person is working the other can dedicate time to making sure the home is in great shape. Either way, it lightens the load on both. Single people just have that extra chore. They’re poorer and/or there home requires the extra work,
Leshka's avatar

Leshka · 92 weeks ago

Title: Word Processing Supervisor. Unfortunately, I don’t have a staff anymore, and I do all the work myself. What is it I do, you ask? Depends on the day. I usually say “I do the stuff no one else wants to do” but there are many jobs like that.

I went to pastry school (and huuuuge debt) just so I could say a profession in 2 words: pastry chef. Course that doesn’t pay the bills, so incomprehensible job, here I come…

dan's avatar

dan · 92 weeks ago

My father in law plays violin for one of the top symphonies in the USA. When I told my mom the was a violinist for the symphony she said the same as in the strip..but what is his real job?

Granted, I grew up in a city with a symphony that was just okay and was basically volunteer with stipend pay, so those musicians did have other jobs.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Runcibletune's avatar

Runcibletune · 92 weeks ago

Augh, the music student in me just emitted a sympathetic wail at that story.
I’m a technical writer. When people ask what that means, I usually tell them that I write all the user manuals that no one ever reads.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Hey, I want to let you know that I read them! They tell me how to not break things.


I’m a stay at home parent which is barely one step removed from being a pan handler in terms of respectability. Easy to explain, but nobody sticks around for the explanation because they assume they know what I’m going to say before I say it.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Gah! I know this so well. My wife stayed home with our daughter for the first 5 years. She still works from home but when people would say “and what does your wife do.” I would usually say, “She works a HELL of a lot harder than I do.”
The black dog 's avatar

The black dog · 92 weeks ago

This comic reflects exactly what my boyfriend goes through sometimes since he is an actor.
Chelsea's avatar

Chelsea · 92 weeks ago

I’ve been going around and around with my husband on a similar topic. I’m currently a technical writer, but I’m trying very hard to quit that and be a full-time novelist. Husband is very supportive about the plan, but doesn’t get why I don’t want to tell every Larry, Moe, and Curly I meet that I’m writing a book. Honestly, I just don’t want to deal with the “delusional dreamer” side-eye. I figure having actual, hard-earned money to show for my work (even if it’s not very much) makes it look more legitimate from the outside.
One of the reasons I dont tell strangers I write comic strips is, “hey I had a funny thought. You can use it in one of your funny papers!”
DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 92 weeks ago

I constantly have a hard time explaining what I do. I’m a graphic designer. (yes, but what do you DO? You design graphics? –No, I design graphically.)
I don’t create advertising for a major national company – but I adjust those advertisements to specs given by individual company reps for their own personal advertising.
Sound fun? No? Tedious and stupid? Yeah, that’s about right…
Paul's avatar

Paul · 92 weeks ago

Disc Jockey. No… not on the radio…. No…. not at a concert…. no…. not at a club…. yeah…. parties…. right…. I PARTY for a living…. right…. there is never any “real” workj…. Seriously, this IS my full time gig….. it IS putting my daughter through college, feeds my 17 year old son, supports all our media habits, pays the mortgage and taxes. Sure, my wife has a Masters degree. Who do you think supported us while she did here time and now that she’s overqualified for any paying job in this town. Yep, I also get to volunteer at school during the day. DJ SuperDad
ken 's avatar

ken · 92 weeks ago

No one has a follow up to illustrator because most don’t know what that means but don’t want to admit it

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

My kids haven’t asked me this question yet. They seem to appreciate my job as an artist, especially since it means I’m home for them after school. Whenever I start to stress about not pulling my financial weight in the family, my wife reminds me of how much we’d have to pay for babysitting for all the time I am with the kids.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

When I was still working a regular job we did some math and realized that with daycare and gas my wife was only earning about $300 a month working 40+ hours a week. She quit the next month.
Tony's avatar

Tony · 92 weeks ago

Hopefully by the time I have kids, I’ll actually have to explain what I’m doing, not what I went to school to learn to do but now just get really annoyed trying to do in my free time and don’t know if I even want to do anymore. That, or hopefully I’ll have gotten good enough to get paid to draw pictures like I think I rather would, but can’t be sure of until I can kinda form any sort of consistent artistic habit.

But with everyone else, I just point to Pixar movies and say “Kinda like that.” If pressed, I can go into the differences between real-time rendering and prerendered films and all the constraints that adds, and the differences between environment and character art, and textures and rigs and particle effects, and whichever discipline I’m trying to get passable at at any given time, and the fact that the general perception in the industry is that no one wants to play a game about a talking airplane when they could be playing the next Call of Duty or Madden and how that affects the aesthetics, and suddenly the Pixar analogy is completely borked so I always pray that I won’t actually be asked to elaborate.

i stock shelves overnight at a grocery store…I make up stories as to what I do..the sad part is I can’t do anything evil overnights….so I torture my coworkers with evil geeky ideas instead
I had a new one the other day. I’m a Systems Admin in IT, but I usually just say “IT” and if someone asks me for specifics, I oblige. I said my usual “I’m in IT,” and the guy looked at me blankly and said, “What’s that?”

In all my years of doing this (15+) I’ve never had that response. I take for granted that everyone has had to deal with the IT department at some time. Apparently not this guy, for better or for worse. 🙂

That is an AWESOME job. When I was a kid I was obsessed with shows like Movie Magic. I wanted to be a prop builder or a model maker or a stop motion animator.
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 92 weeks ago

That would be my dream job! Now if only I had an once of artistic talent…
Ceri's avatar

Ceri · 92 weeks ago

Ounce, dammit.
GrendelVS's avatar

GrendelVS · 92 weeks ago

I have a similar problem trying to explain “Change Management” to anyone not in IT.
theroyalher's avatar

theroyalher · 92 weeks ago

Aside from my day job of Personal/Executive assistant which is hard enough to explain because I do WAY more than either of those titles by themselves call for let alone combined I teach and coach Ballroom Dance.
I am one of 6 people on the planet certified by ALL the the organizations which govern ballroom dance and only one of 4 people who teach all styles and coach professional level couples…….try explaining that to the general populace…..usually it goes
“I teach dance”
“Like jazz and hip hop (FML) and stuff?”
“OMG like you can tango and stuff”
“And stuff”
“OMG I totally want to learn for my cousin/brother/sisters/friends wedding”

2 replies · active 92 weeks ago

I was a bit of an EA for a few years. I basically ran errands for a rich dude that used to be my boss at a dotcom startup. It was exceedingly weird.
theroyalher's avatar

theroyalher · 92 weeks ago

Weird is right. Theres all the office stuff….answering phones, emails, business travel and the like. Still a number of things other EA’s dont do and wouldnt do especially for the money I make. The real insanity comes in when you take into account that I pay all his household bills, handle all his personal properties and vehicles, buy his clothes, wine, gifts, book all his vacations, doctors…..I mean everything….I even order the coffee for his house……AND I do the same thing for his father, wife and 4 ADULT children.
Had to walk out of a restaurant last night to pick up a call about the new cooling unit for the new wine cellar (the 3rd one) and was able to pay for it over the phone because I use his credit card so much I have the number memorized.
Greg's avatar

Greg · 92 weeks ago

“I am a Field Engineer who installs, validates, and repairs automated monitoring and watering systems for Pharmaceutical, Laboratories, and Biotech.”
“I work with computers.”
“All my funny work stories involve blood.”

You and me both.

mist's avatar

mist · 92 weeks ago

Downside of vet is same as downsides for IT fixing. You only see the sick and the injured, you want to help all of them, it’s never as glamorous as it’s sounds and failure is unpleasant.

Did IT, and also security work, for many years. Kids didn’t ask much because I never got to see them that much (server downtime is often best scheduled after hours). They do remember the times (as does my ex) of having to wait outside in the car for hours on end when we got an on-call emergency on way to beach or on way back from holiday, and others were busy.
Now I’m doing FX trading for kicks, and dairy farming. No kid questions as partner took them, she didn’t like being away from her city friends, having to travel, or having a partner smell bad all the time. And I’d still never get to see the kids anyway because farmings 10-12hr days, 7 days a week. But at least I don’t have to constant put up with mismatched poorly de3signed tech, or playing constant catchup with the late$t relea$e or patche$.

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 92 weeks ago

My dad’s an astrophysicist/nuclear physicist. I haven’t a clue what he actually DOES because all the interesting stuff’s classified. He’s semi-retired and currently seeing what papers he didn’t have time to finish that are still publishable, so maybe I can finally read some of his stuff.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 92 weeks ago

As for me, I’m unemployed but I’m thinking this year I need to call myself a “moving goon”. Seems like 75% of my friends and my parents have been moving this year, and I’ve helped most of them out.
Fred's avatar

Fred · 92 weeks ago

I have Adblock turned off but I still see large empty boxes at the top and on the right, and sometimes the bottom too.


Emily's avatar

Emily · 92 weeks ago

After my dad the computer wizard passed away my mom had a discussion with the manager from his job. Apparently they couldn’t replace him because they weren’t sure what is was that he did, just that everything stopped working after he went into the hospital.

For me I’m transitioning from deli clerk back to my chosen field of childcare, so the responses are switching from “that’s the best you can come up with?” to “you’re crazy to enjoy watching kids for a living!”

KGHorn's avatar

KGHorn · 92 weeks ago

I’m a musician. My favorite was trying to explain what I do to my completely type A+, logical engineering brother and his engineering wife.

Them: “So, you’re majoring in horn performance?”
Me: “Yep.”
Them: “So, what do you do with that?”
Me: “The ultimate goal is to play my horn really well and people will pay me to do it.”
Them: “Wait, people pay you to make music? That can’t actually be a job.”
Me: “Well, there’s the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and even some smaller, local orchestras and all of those musicians get paid to play.”
Them: “But they must have jobs they do, right?”
Me: “No, that IS their job.”
Them: “Really? Are you sure? They just get paid to play in an orchestra?”
Me: “Yes, it’s a full-time job.”
Them: “Oh…….are you really sure about that?”


Gretchen's avatar

Gretchen · 92 weeks ago

I’m an author who still has to make ends meet with a day job (senior technical writer at a biometric security firm…which is every bit as boring as it sounds). I’ve been very lucky to have a supportive husband, family, and even co-workers, but every now and then I’ll get strange questions or condescending remarks. “Why are you writing stories, you already have a real job?” “Do you know how unlikely it is to get published? Probably not worth the effort.” Or my personal favorite, “I’m totally writing a book too! Well, I mean, I have the idea for a book. You know what, you could write it for me, then when it’s a best seller I’ll give you a cut of the profit.”
Neil's avatar

Neil · 92 weeks ago

Of course it’s not a real job! You enjoy it.

If the rest of us are going to be miserable in our day to day lives, then we’re sure as hell not going to accept that it’s possible to be paid and not be miserable!

Neph Sy's avatar

Neph Sy · 92 weeks ago

My job isn’t hard to explain, but people don’t understand how I can support myself with it. I am an artist, but for the last ten years the focus has been jewelry, as a craftsperson.
“Where do you buy……” – I make it all
“Do you have a store?” No.
Or if I’m at a craft show – You’re in it right now.
“So what stores can I buy your jewelry at” – None
Or if I’m at a craft show – This is the store
“Can you fix this ….(piece of junk jewelry that is not made by me)” – No
“Can you engrave/size my ring/repair (an expensive piece of jewelry not made by me)” – No

I do tire of people thinking that I am a repair shop, must have my own physical store or be selling in stores across the country to be able to support myself. They just don’t get that there are many business models out there. Just like Joel, I’m home working most days, but go out of town to craft shows 1-3 times a month. I can really relate to “the experiment”, and the roller-coaster ride that is being self employed.

At this point my family is pretty much used to the idea that this is my job, but they still keep offering me money. Since I live frugally, it looks to them as if I’m in debt, and poor, but that is not the case. Seriously my parents try to pay me for picking them up at the airport, or mowing their lawn, because “we would of paid someone else to do it”!

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 92 weeks ago

I’ve got a lot of friends at Intel. Some of them run the machines that make the chips, some of them fix stuff that those other people break, but anyone I mention it to assumes they sit in a workroom designing computer chips instead of the reality of “stare at this monitor and do something if this light comes on.” I suppose I should take it as a compliment, I look like someone who has smart friends.

…not to say my friends are stupid, particularly if they read this. There’s just a lot more going on at those companies than the big sexy TV depiction.

MrPlow99's avatar

MrPlow99 · 92 weeks ago

I’m a software engineer. I generally find that the only people who ask for more details about what I do are the ones who would understand my answer anyway.

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

lou's avatar

lou · 92 weeks ago

Reminds me of the many MANY times my dad would get my major wrong when he talks about me to people. He says Computer Science, when I actually studied (and got my B.S. in) Computer Engineering. One time he dropped an f-bomb after I corrected him (not for the first time).
werwolf's avatar

werwolf · 92 weeks ago

i really wrestled with myself to try to take the high road and add something reasonable or sensible to this comments thread, but… what the heck!
uwg's avatar

uwg · 92 weeks ago

You’ve probably heard some version of this joke:

The teacher is asking the kids what their parents do for a living. After a bunch of the usual responses, Little Johnny says, “My daddy plays piano in a whorehouse.” The teacher, flustered, quickly changes the subject. Later she makes a call to Johnny’s father and asks, “What’s this I hear about you playing piano in a whorehouse?” Johnny’s father replies, “Oh, that. Actually I’m a corporate attorney, but you can’t tell that to a 6-year-old kid.”

I’m an herbalist.

If you can understand what that means…you’re probably also an herbalist. I am so sorry for you.

lou's avatar

lou · 92 weeks ago

My dad is a mortgage broker, a branch of the real estate tree who helps you pay for the house you want to buy. It’s pretty confusing to me, but the best I can describe to those who ask are he’s a go-between from customer to bank.
Joel, the next time your daughter asks what you do, just say, “Daddy occasionally draws gay bearded dudes getting it on, and it is glorious”.

Oh, and I whitelisted the living shit out of this site 8^)

Well, thats all recursive cool-ness and all,
but we are all really on the edge of our seats for when you SORAS this kid into the comedy-laden teen years, ( next week? )
and introduce Cousin Oliver.
meagankn's avatar

meagankn · 91 weeks ago

This is exactly what I face as an actor pretty much constantly. Along with being consistently asked to work for free. I once tried to make the analogy that you would never approach a chef that you have no previous personal relationship with to cater your wedding for free. No amount of “it will look great on your resume” or “it’s a wonderful learning experience” will get them to say yes. Somehow with the arts it is completely different. And it sometimes sucks. So glad you’re doing this and doing so well at it! And I’m excited to see where the new style will lead!
Deadboy's avatar

Deadboy · 8 weeks ago

I’ve got a slightly different problem. I’m 30 and a punk (big Mohawk, leather jacket, piercings etc), so most people who met me end up asking – “when are you going to grow up and get a job?”
– “I have a job. I work in IT. In an office.”
– “What looking like that?” 0_0
– “Yes, because I’m good at what I do and what I do and my boss isn’t prejadisted.”
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One Comment

  1. I've got a slightly different problem. I'm 30 and a punk (big Mohawk, leather jacket, piercings etc), so most people who met me end up asking – "when are you going to grow up and get a job?"
    – "I have a job. I work in IT. In an office."
    – "What looking like that?" 0_0
    – "Yes, because I'm good at what I do and what I do and my boss isn't prejadisted."

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