Creator Career Self Deprecation
The author wants to portray their character as a loser, but doesn't want to offend people in any particular occupation. So they make the character's occupation their own. This allows for a lot of Self-Deprecating Humor, which is probably the whole point. It also means that the parody will be much better informed than one from someone who knows less about the profession - being on the inside means they include anecdotes and details that other scientists or teachers or priests or whatever will find greater recognition and (hopefully) humour in. The loser cartoonist can't draw, the writer has an obviously Mary-Sue version of him/herself, or some other type of Stylistic Suck. These characters may also be prone to extreme Writer's Block, which can justify the times that they aren't working/don't have a job. This must be where a character's career is the same as the author of the work. A hack novelist main character in a novel would be an example, but a hack novelist in an animated show or a cartoonist in a novel would not be. Compare Acceptable Targets, Self-Deprecation, Write What You Know and especially Writers Suck.
ExamplesAnime and Manga
- The two protagonists in Bakuman。 start off not so much as losers but as utterly normal high schoolers. Mashiro's uncle, who is dead when the story starts, fits this trope a lot more.
- The main lead of Takamagahara is so bad at creating manga that it makes people who read it physically ill.
- One of the main characters (Harima) of School Rumble is an amateur manga artist whose work was onced featured in a weekly magazine a la Shonen Jump. His manga is... satisfactory, but people prefer his classmate Karasuma's comic which is also published on said magazine.
- Izumi Tsubaki is an established shoujo manga artist and in Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun she takes light-hearted jabs at her own profession. Nozaki making all his male characters look alike pokes fun at her own tendency to reuse the same characters designs in her manga, with Nozaki's character design itself being one that shows up prominently in Ore-sama Teacher and Magic Touch.
- Jon Arbuckle, Garfield's owner. Over time, the loser aspect completely overshadowed the fact that he even had a job. In fact, the only times Jon was mentioned as being a cartoonist were in the first strip◊, these◊ two◊ strips that began the Christmas 1984 Story Arc, and this◊ 2010 Sunday Strip.
- Stephen Pastis, the cartoonist responsible for Pearls Before Swine, sometimes inserts himself into the strip as a 40-year old smoking loser cartoonist who often gets abused by the other characters, especially Rat. See this strip for an example.
- Usually this is after a bad pun it took a whole Sunday strip to set up. One had Rat not liking a poster of Mia Hamm or a two-tone green Texas A&M flag. Why? "Because I Do Not Like Green Aggs and Hamm!" he screams in exasperation.
- He also does some Creator Former Career Self-Deprecation, as he started the cartoon after he quit his job as a lawyer. Yes, there are evil lawyer jokes.
- Darby Connley was portrayed as an extreme one of these in these◊three◊ strips◊ of his own Get Fuzzy.
- A great many Franco-Belgian Comics portray comic authors and artists as wretched slaves toiling away to produce art under the iron rule of a heartless, evil editor obsessed with productivity.
- Alan Moore's run on Supreme includes the character of Billy Friday, not just a comic book writer but specifically an egotistical English writer of American superhero comics with a penchant for Darker and Edgier revamps of old characters.
- In Allegro Non Troppo, all of the animation is supposedly being made by one lowly cartoonist shackled to his desk.
- The Player: A Hollywood movie poking fun at Hollywood, even with collaboration of A-list actors!
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr. repeatedly uses the character Kilgore Trout, a failed sci-fi writer, in his novels as an Author Avatar of the self deprecating variety, though Vonnegut has admitted that Trout is also influenced by Theodore Sturgeon.
- Repairman Jack: The character P. Frank Winslow, who is an Author Avatar to the author, named F. Paul Wilson. He, as well as authors in general, is described as "needy". His whole character is basically here for this purpose.
- Isaac Asimov loved this trope; the "George and Azazel" stories almost always start with George dismissing his writer friend's career. (And said writer is Asimov himself.)
- One of the protagonists in horror writer Brian McNaughton's The Throne of Bones is an eccentric horror writer who pokes fun at his own profession.
- An extreme example on 30 Rock::Jack directly parodies Alec Baldwin's career. An approximate quotation:
"And it doesn't matter if you do movies about important things like sick puppies and the Holocaust... the moment you go on TV, nobody will ever take you seriously again."
- There's also Liz Lemon, who is basically Tina Fey but with a crappy love life and no respect from her peers. The other writers in the show are depicted as frat boys with the maturity of 12-year-olds.
- On Supernatural, Chuck Shirley, pen name "Carver Edlund" after writer/producers Jeremy Carver and Ben Edlund, is a loser prophet and a writer. Then again, the last episode of the fifth season implies that he could actually be God, so...
- Seinfeld did this a bit, both belittling Jerry's stand-up act and writing for a sitcom. Another take on "Seinfeld Is Unfunny" here.
- Curb Your Enthusiasm does the same for Larry David's career, with the added bonus that Larry says that it his character is very similar to his real life, just that he is slightly less awkward in social situations.
- Gary, the main character from Ménage à 3, is portrayed like this. However, this isn't his main job, but a side talent. His actual job gets minimal importance, while his drawing is supposed to be a loser attribute. It just so happens that several potential love interests find it an endearing or useful talent.
- Zach Wiener of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal likes to portray himself as this.
- Kaitlyn Hu of newspaper-style Precocious, wants to be a cartoonist. Everyone else tells her it's a terrible idea.
Wen: So I thought you were supposed to be smart.Kaitlyn: Cartoonists are smart. They're just not rational.
- Egoraptor portrays himself as a Small Name, Big Ego in the Awesome Series. In Girlchan in Paradise!!, his Author Avatar is extremely lazynote , he is defeated as easily as most other members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad, and he gets the worst beating of any character in the series.
- Being the Meta Guy that he is, Phelous regularly cracks jokes about being a hack reviewer prone to overusing running gags and pointless cameos. He even reviewed his own web series once.
- In The Simpsons, the creator of The Itchy & Scratchy Show is betrayed and turned into a bum, though a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, eventually. The guy who does the ripping off, Roger Myers Jr., although extremely successful, is shown to be amoral, cruel to his employees (insulting them and sacking them on a whim) and utterly uninterested in the quality of the series as long as ratings and profits are high. The writers are all from Ivy League universities, which gives them attitudes of superiority but are often idle about their work. Other famous "artists" are near universally egotists or hacks, such as Krusty.
- Andy from Mission Hill is another example. There was even an episode dedicated to the fact that Andy was broke, couldn't get any of his cartoons published, couldn't even get anyone to understand his cartoons, and was working a dead-end job that barely even put food on the table.
- In Gravity Falls, Mabel has a fear of Stop Motion movie monsters, and Stan tries to explain to her that they're just the work of an animator, whom he calls an "anti-social shut-in". (Bear in mind that Stan is voiced by the show's creator, an animator himself.) When they do meet the Ray Harryhausen-like animator, they discover that he used black magic to make his creatures come to life, meaning he eventually gave up on actually animating them, and has become enslaved by his creations.