If you’ve ever worked in a retail job, you know how thankless it can be. The customers, the promotions you have to push—it can be draining. So, it’s nice to be able to commiserate with other folks who know the in-store retail struggle. Illustrator Stephen Beals does just this by chronicling the adventures of retail workers in his daily comic called Adult Children.
In the four-panel comic, a retail worker (or workers)—often characters named Penny and Tabby—encounter customers in a big-box store. The customers complain, want refunds, cough without covering their mouths, and more. Penny and Tabby handle it all with a biting wit, saying many of the things you’d wish you could say in their position.
There’s the adage that you should write about what you know, and in Beals’ case, it’s draw what you know. “I've made comics about most facets of my life,” he tells My Modern Met, “and once I started working in a retail environment, the comics just followed along. Penny was always one of my characters and a few old strips showed her working in retail. As my day job changed, my focus in the strip shifted to Penny.”
Beals attended the California Institute of the Arts to become an animator but decided he would rather draw comics. “I like drawing comics more despite the fact that they aren't exactly a path towards making a living,” he explains. “I've enjoyed making comics so much that they've become a routine as much as brushing my teeth, so I'm happy to report that I have no cavities and a healthy backlog of comics.”
His goal is to be a syndicated cartoonist in newspapers. “I love comic strips,” he says. “The newspaper industry has shrunk to the size of a thimble, but I still read them online.” If you’d like to support his work, one easy way to do so is to read even more of his work through GoComics, where Adult Children is digitally syndicated.