TATI: Tony, I believe you can be considered a professional artist, yes?
TONY: I guess I can. I might not make much money from what I do but I certainly take it seriously.
TATI: How much money have you made with your art? Do you remember the biggest amount you ever received?
TONY: I do believe it was two Scribbean melamine dollars back in 1996, which was quite a payday for a young, starving artist working out of a cardboard hovel in an inner city red light district.
TATI: Scribbean melamine dollars? Red light district?
TONY: Oh, that’s industry talk for failure. Don’t worry about it…
TATI: No, I’m curious now. I need to hear the entire story.
TONY: There’s not much to tell. I was a starving artist in a cardboard hovel.
TATI: But I see you’re still alive and even have a pretty notable belly.
TONY: Yes, I’ve managed to live off of this belly for many a year now.
TATI: Well… anyway, I wanted to ask your professional opinion. (If we can be agreed that you’re a professional artist.)
TATI: Is it art?
TONY: Oh, I’ve heard of this…
TATI: You’ve heard of this. Awesome. It means you can hear, even though you’re deaf. But it looks like you haven’t heard my question.
TONY: Is it art? Yes, I heard your question, smarty-pants! As for the banana taped to a wall… well, do you think it’s art?
TATI: Tony, don’t turn this around. I asked you first!
TONY: Well, I guess it is art. Maybe. I don’t know. I mean, someone did end up paying $120,000 for it. Real dollars by the way, not melamine ones.
TATI: Why don’t you do this then?
TONY: Stick fruit to walls?
TATI: Yep. Why spend days and weeks toiling over drawings? Why sweat over your silly comics month after agonising month? Tape bananas to walls and enjoy platinum-plated baguettes and brie for years to come!
TONY: Well, I suppose it should have been obvious the day I tripped in a food hall and my McJolly’s Super Happy Meal ended up all over that rather bland ‘Exciting New Store Coming Soon’ sign. I really should have put two and two together and started throwing all kinds of shit against vertical surfaces. I mean, instant riches right there, am I right?
TATI: I hear sarcasm in your voice when you say, “All kinds of shit.” So, you admit it isn’t art, but rather shit? Or is it just jealousy speaking that someone else made money, even from shit?
TONY: Oh, definitely jealousy. My problem is that I’m not enough of a lateral thinker to come up with a genius idea like that!
TATI: Tony, you have an amazing ability to blab endlessly and say nothing useful. Can you just answer the question, please? Is this fucking art or fucking shit?
TONY: Alright then! It’s a fucking art that someone taped fruit to a wall and duped some dude out a shitload of cash! Satisfied?
TATI: The art of manipulation? The art of fraud? The art of proving the world is sick and can’t distinguish between what is real and what is fake?
TONY: Pretty much. Kinda like when guys choose fake boobies over real boobies. Same principle.
TATI: So, it can’t be considered a real piece of art? In a good, classic ‘art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performance artifacts (artworks) that express the author’s imagination, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power’ kind of way?
TONY: That was quite a mouthful.
TATI: If you don’t have a clear opinion, my hesitating friend, then let’s ask our dear readers. I hope they can find a clearer position on this than you.
TONY: Sure! Why the hell not?
TATI: Bachelor of Visual Arts.
TONY: I’m sorry?
TATI: You have a Bachelor of Visual Arts.
TATI: Your art has even featured in a comics exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Rijeka, Croatia.
TONY: Erm… yes.
TATI: You’ve contributed to various comics anthologies.
TONY: Also yes.
TATI: All of this hard work and critical acclaim has led you to… this?
TONY: To what?
TATI: Shame on you!
TATI: This drawing of a goo goo muck with blood all over her tits!
TONY: Goo goo muck?!
TATI: A vampire woman!
TATI: Tony, this drawing is not art! It is complete shit!
TONY: I beg your pardon?!
TATI: You have thirty seconds to convince me otherwise. Tick tock!
TATI: Well? I’m waiting!
Tony turns to the Unbolt Me readers. His voice drops to a whisper.
TONY: Help me out, guys…
TATI: It looks like you’re obsessed with Gorgons, Tony.
TONY: Only insofar as they’re fun to draw. Especially this one!
TATI: Yes, I saw you had a lot of fun with this. Is this a man or a woman, by the way?
TONY: A woman. Stheno was the oldest of the three Gorgon sisters. She was immortal too.
TATI: Hmmm… so, it’s not a bunch of penises here…
TONY: Nope. Just a bunch of pubic snakes that would be very unfriendly to one if it ever got close.
TATI: Now it’s getting interesting, Tony! So, do you have a theory about Gorgon physiology? Every hair is a snake? Not only the hair on their heads?
TONY: Exactly. Everywhere there would usually be hair, are snakes instead. So, it stands to reason they wouldn’t have any form of hair removal. No Brazilian wax for Stheno!
TATI: I had hoped for this answer, Tony. Now I’m going to have fun!
TONY: That sounds… ominous.
TATI: Hee hee hee…
TONY: Now you’re scaring me.
TATI: Question number one. Her brows. Where are the snakes?
TONY: Oh, she plucked them.
TATI: Plucked? But plucking doesn’t get rid of all the hair. It only makes the brow a different shape, or thinner. There would still be snake heads there.
TONY: Okay, then Gorgons don’t have eyebrows.
TATI: But I see them on your drawing!
TONY: Oh, shit. Erm… Those are cosmetic tattoos!
TATI: And what about the lack of armpit hair?
TONY: Laser hair removal!
TATI: But moments ago you said something about no Brazilian wax for Stheno!
TONY: Next question!
TATI: Hm. Okay. Your wish is my command. What kind of black liquid is that dripping around her feet?
TONY: That’s blood from a… well, penis. It got too close. Can you see it lying there in the middle?
TATI: Oh, so this blob is a penis? I was sure it was her reflection in the water. Or a part of her left leg. I dunno.
TONY: Nope. It’s a penis. A willy. Man’s bouncy ball buddy. A one-eyed wonder weasel. Hitler’s salute. A salty pube kebab.
TATI: Okay, you can stop phallomorphologising, Tony. I got it. It’s a penis.
TONY: Well, I didn’t want there to be any ambiguity.
TATI: Where’s the head?
TONY: Erm. What?
TATI: The head, Tony! The man’s head! His noggin. Pate. Bean. Dome.
TONY: Oh! I thought you were still referring to the penis!
TATI: Sigh. It’s plain to see where your thinking centre is located. I’m referring to the upper part of the human body that (usually) contains the brain.
TONY: Are you saying that there should be a man’s severed head at Stheno’s feet?
TATI: Of course! Let’s speak sense, shall we?
TONY: Well, I could have put one there, but I felt that a severed penis would be a more powerful statement of her independence and ferocity.
TATI: But a man approaches Stheno with an obvious intent to copulate. (I don’t comment on his taste though. They say never speak ill of the dead.)
TONY: Perhaps he was attracted to thickset women with unmanageable hair? I don’t know!
TATI: Obviously, his head was equally as close and important a target as his penis. Agreed?
TONY: Well, yeah! What’s your point? Are you saying I should have drawn a severed head instead of a severed penis?
TATI: No. I’m just trying to be logical. At the same time Stheno’s lower serpentry was busy with his penis, her higher serpentry would have been busy with his head. But, for some strange reason, the snakes on her head look clean and pretty relaxed. Do they have a different attitude toward men?
TONY: Maybe her ‘higher serpentry’ was tied up in a neat little bun at the time? I don’t bloody know! I just drew the damn thing. I didn’t think too much about the logic of it all!
TATI: It’s evident that you didn’t think at all, Mr Artist. Let me tell you how it should loo—
TONY: Oh. Fucking goody.
TATI: The serpents on her head should be dripping with blood also, and the man’s severed head should be laying somewhere around.
TONY: Somewhere around, huh? What if it’s just out of shot? Did you think of that? Huh? Did ya?!
TATI: Of course! Her posture, actually, can point to the possibility that she has just kicked the head off his shoulders—like a soccer ball—and her happy expression can mean that she scored a goal.
TONY: See? I didn’t need to draw a man’s severed head after all. There’s a perfectly legitimate story behind its absence.
TATI: Well, I’ve just explained it, Tony. What would you do without me? Those angry art critics would tear you apart with their tricky questions!
TONY: Really though? It’s not like they’re even paying any attention.
TATI: Yes, they are! And we need to invent an explanation of why the snakes on Stheno’s head are clean. Only then will I allow you to post this picture on your Instagram.
TONY: Oh, I’m sorry, your highness. I didn’t realise I needed your permission!
ACT 103 SCENE 54
A SPOONFUL OF SARCASM & WOE
Two weeks ago…
Tony’s kneeling near the living room wall in sackcloth and ashes, wailing his sad little heart out. He’s smacking his brow against the wallpaper very hard.
TONY: No sleep, no rest for my tormented soul!
Tati walks in, licking a spoon smeared with cherry jam. She wonders what the hell Tony’s wailing and smacking about. She can see that the wallpaper’s taking quite a beating. She mutters under her breath.
TATI: And no money for new wallpaper.
TONY: Oh, I weep!
Tati sighs with great resignation. She senses a tedious conversation ahead. Time to make it interesting.
TATI: The only logical explanation for this is you’re rehearsing ‘Prince Igor’.
Tony stops smacking and wailing, and turns to face her.
TATI: If so, I suggest you perform the ‘Polovtsian Dances’ in the second act. It’s my favorite part. I bet you have the voice of an angel.
Tony’s heart warms with gratitude.
TONY: Aw, what a lovely thing to say!
TATI: A castrated angel.
He looks at her like he’s been slapped with an electric eel.
TONY: Well, I never…
Tati gives her spoon another lick. It’s clean now, and she seems to be quite pleased with herself.
TATI: Never say never. Anyway, what’s gotten your panties in a bunch this time?
TONY: It’s our Patreon. Ah, me! Ah, woe!
TATI: Did you forget the password again?
TONY: No. I have it tattooed on my inner thigh.
Tati makes a mental note to change the password as soon as possible.
TONY: We’ve lost a patron. And now we’ve gone down a whole dollar! We’re going to starve! We’re going to die!
Tati looks at her spoon. That’s food for thought.
TATI: And you suppose your wailing will attract a new patron? I think not! More likely you’ll chase the remaining ones away. You could do something more useful than ruining our flat in an orgy of grief you know.
Tony puts on a petulant face.
TONY: Oh, and seducing new patrons with your saucy condiment licking skills is more useful?
Tati gives her spoon a musing lick.
TATI: There’s nothing saucy about jam.
Tony is quite exasperated now.
TONY: I don’t give a damn about your jam, Tati! We need more bloody money!
TATI: And you need to chill out. There’s always a solution to these things.
TONY: Then tell me what it is!
Tati looks at her spoon again. Unlike Tony, she seems calm and collected, almost contemplative even.
TONY: You and that fucking spoon…
Tati ignores him.
TATI: I’ll tell you what we can do to give our Patreon a new lick of life. We can make our own comic.
Tony’s voice takes on a sarcastic tone.
TONY: Comic? What an unexpected solution! Isn’t this something we do already? Oh, and by the way, the expression is ‘lease of life‘.
TATI: Yes, comic. But a better one. A super-puper wonder comic. One that’s exclusive to our Patreon. And maybe our Ko-fi too.
TONY: I don’t drink coffee!
TATI: Who cares? I do.
Tony rolls his eyes.
TONY: So, Super-Puper Wonder Woman, what is this comic going to be about?
TATI: Do you remember those two creatures you callously killed off in your ‘Crumble Cult’ webcomic?
TONY: Killed off? No. I’m afraid I’d remember something like that.
TATI: Think. They were tiny… and completely, utterly helpless.
TONY: This isn’t making me look very good…
Tati points her spoon at Tony in an accusing manner.
TATI: They even had names! How could you?!
TONY: What the hell?! No, I don’t remember this at all!
TATI: Exactly what a killer would say! Mork? Brandy Snap? Do these names ring a bell?
TONY: OH! Marth and Bramwell!
TATI: Yes, exactly what I said. Anyway, we can resurrect them. We can kill them on!
TONY: That makes no sense…
Tati ignores him.
TATI: They can be the main characters of the new comic we’ll write and draw. And I have an idea about the first strip…
Tati gives her spoon another lick before remembering that there’s not one dollop or iota of jam left on it.
TATI: Let’s discuss this over biscuits and jam.
Tony slowly gets to his feet, spreading ash everywhere.
TONY: I’ll go to the kitchen then.
TATI: No, you’ll go to the store. There’s no jam left in the house.
A sarcastic tone creeps into Tony’s voice.
TONY: Fine. What flavour does her royal highness want?
TATI: Hm. Peach. I’m feeling very peachy today.
TONY: Well, what shall we write for our introduction? We’ve got to let people know about our new comic strip.
TATI: Let’s discuss this over biscuits and jam.
TONY: I’ll go to the kitchen then.
TATI: No, you’ll go to the store. There’s no jam left in the house.
TONY: I’m feeling a sense of déjà vu. Let me guess… peach?
While Tony tries to navigate his way through the supermarket revolving door, and Tati plays a hyperviolent video game where she kills waves and waves of mutant jam roly-polies, you have time to hop over to their Patreon page to read the first instalment of their new bilingual comic strip, ‘Marth & Bramwell’. And you can also read it on their Ko-fi page if you prefer.
This strip will be a free, ongoing feature that you’ll be able to read at any time. It will be updated monthly with a fresh episode. You can even bookmark their Patreon or Ko-fi page so that you won’t miss a single one. They have plenty of adventures in store, so stick around and please enjoy!
TATI: Tony, if you were an art gallery guide, what would you tell the visitors about this picture?
TONY: You mean, other than it was drawn by a rank amateur? Damn. I don’t know. Do I have to comment at all? How’s about I say it’s a silly little scribble that has no real meaning? Would that be good enough?
Tati takes on a nerdy expression and a dull academic tone.
TATI: Nope, I mean something like: ‘This picture presents a crescent man with a pretty athletic pair of legs and a sexy butt. Its arms look weak, and despite it being an Olympic athlete from ancient Greece it has a lot of trouble because of its heavy head. It can’t run and it falls over every time. This fact frustrates the crescent man, and makes it yell from helplessness and despair because it didn’t win Dolichos in 720 BC.’ A professional description, dude.
Tony goggles at the picture with a slack jaw.
TONY: Are we seeing the same thing?
TATI: ‘The artist’s intention is to show the tragedy of the character, its physical and spiritual torments.’
TONY: Oh, okay. Sounds good. Let’s roll with all that stuff you said.
TATI: And it should be a discobolus, not a runner!
Tony is starting to warm to this now.
TONY: That sounds feasible. Someone give the moon man a discus!
Tati waggles her finger before Tony’s nose.
TATI: I suppose it has a discus already.
TONY: Or maybe it is the discus?
TATI: Exactly. It could try to grab itself by the nape and throw itself as far as it can. But, alas, its hands, as I mentioned before, are too weak.
TONY: Yeah, that seems a bit strenuous for the poor geezer.
TATI: It hasn’t got a chance in hell.
Tony sniffles. He looks at the crescent man with deep pity. He had no idea that the character had been leading such a dramatic life up until this point.
Tati smiles and pats his shoulder.
TATI: See, Tony? It isn’t so hard. You take a turn now. What would you tell the visitors about this picture?
TONY: Erm, let’s see: ‘Drawing of a middle aged moon man whose parents would have liked him to have made something of himself but he only ended up disappointing them with his poor life choices. He is screaming in frustration at having been outshone by the surrounding stars and planetary bodies. Now both of his parents are dead, and his hopes of redeeming himself in their eyes are dead too. The drawing has rough pencil linework that has not been cleaned up for the final version, and the background is of a nebulous, unspecified setting because the artist couldn’t be arsed to render it in any detail. The moon man himself hasn’t even been carefully posed, therefore it looks like he’s puking up one of his legs. God, the artist is a hack. Tear this drawing off the gallery wall and burn it immediately. It’s a silly little scribble that has no real meaning.’
TATI: WOW, Tony! That’s a horse of another colour!
TONY: No, a horse has four legs.