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ARTISTS LABOUR

Three animators live through the daily troubles of life and working on limited TV cartoons in the mid 80s.

By Iain K. Robbins INT. ANIMATION OFFICE EVENING Two animators are drawing at their tables in the eve of the day. One looks fairly happy at what he is doing with a faint smile and with headphones over his ears. He wears glasses and his front pocket contains many pencils and pens. He is drawing a muscular, ultra-buff hero character with a dull expression and barley has any clothing, outside of loin cloth, spike plates, boots, and a chest strap. The other is wearing a loose purple turtle-neck, tired old sacks under his eyes, nose red as he scratches it, and looking exhausted. He is drawing a little imp wizard displaying its powers. JONATHAN Why is it Spring and this room feels just as humid and itchy as it did in the Winter? I JONATHAN turns his head to see the other animator listening to his music. JONATHAN Ed? ED! EDDIE notices JONATHAN looking at him and removes his headset. We faintly hear the latest techno, 80s hit as he pauses his tape player. EDDIE What is it, Jon? JONAHAN I dont know how you even got into that music. Youre listening to one hit nobodies, while the best music is out there and on your radio. EDDIE Ah yeah, and what do you consider good music?

JONATHAN Old school! Zeppelin! Bee Gees! Garfunkel! Bostons More Than a little better air control in this specific fucking room! EDDIE Ah thats why you brought me out of my tunes. Didnt you already ask about that to the janitor? JONATHAN I did. More than a week ago. No change for the better in here for now. Im starting to get congested and stuffy and itll get worse if the air in here gets better. A blonde woman, in a half-frowned-half-smiley face t-shirt and jeans, enters the room eating a sandwich. VICKI Someone should really install windows in here for us. Itll be unbearable once the summer starts. EDDIE Hey, Vicki. JONATHAN You didnt think to get anything for us? VICKI I thought you guys already ate or brought your own food. JONATHAN sighs and slouches on his table. JONATHAN The guard still gives me a hell of a time since I brought in the cart of McDLTs. He seems to squint at the mere sight of fast food anythings. VICKI You can make it up to him by offering him a veggie salad or something. JONATHAN Thatll just bring a riot of sad laughter if he buys that.

JONATHAN turns back towards his desk and continues drawing. VICKI walks back to her table and picks up a pencil as JONATHAN begins to brag about his assignment. JONATHAN I cant stand drawing this flying blackface midget. EDDIE You never see his face. JONATHAN Well, all you see is his eyes and a black ball for a head. I have no goddamn idea why that is, I just-EDDIE interrupts. EDDIE Is it because youve been drawing that character for so long since youve worked here? JONATHAN Now that you said that, yeah. The really depressing thing about Spello is that hes the most expressive out of all the characters in this show. The big guys always feel the need to have these rejected Vanity Fair models to have the same pose and expressions in every one of these episodes. VICKI These shows arent produced with a million dollars an episode. JONATHAN Which makes me wonder how much Commander K. and Mechmographacators cost each week. I have to assume sending them out to Japan must cost just that extra bit of money. VICKI At least were getting paid for what we do instead of killing ourselves in overtime.

JONATHAN Yeah but it just makes me think that my art graduation and training lead me all to this. I think its depressing. VICKI talks as she draws on her desk. VICKI You should probably take things from me sometimes. I see this as just a step backward before taking the long flight upstairs to the top. At the top is a dream job, well paid, respected and admired, and leaving a mark for others to follow. JONATHAN That is if you dont end up working on another big flop. VICKI I can work with what I got. Ill just know that something better would come after that. I got my attitude towards things from my dad when I was getting picked on in school. EDDIE I wish I could be as bright-eyed as you, Vicki. But I kind of side with Jon in that I have to see the overall quality of what it is were working on. Were drawing are a series of lips to be repeated over and over. Run cycles that are repeated over and over. JONATHAN Amen to Skiddy the Weasel Man, here. VICKI Just keep holding onto whats left of your hope, guys. Someday were gonna get out of here and make something better for ourselves. JONATHAN And the alternative of what you said will be, stuck here forever making bland-ass cartoons for the kiddies while Louie, the boss gets the fancy opening credit.

EDDIE Well from what I hear from the others, somethings about to happen here. They say Louies planning on making us do a feature. VICKI Feature? Really? JONATHAN Yeah hes been developing that in secrecy with some of the story artists in his house. VICKI Well there you go. See? Things might get better for us starting from that. JONATHAN Itll probably just be a feature of what were doing now. Dead Face Action Meat Man: The Movie, coming this Thanksgiving! VICKI Youre just an impossible man to see the bright side of life. JONATHAN Thats because I only see the blackest, withering, sickening side of things. Check it out sometime, itll make you see things differently. EDDIE I think Vicki and I will take our chances with the bright side of things. A person in a Hawaiian shirt and a mullet walks into the room, with a script in hand. MARK Hey everyone. We just got the latest episode script here! Everyone only nervously cheers and claps while VICKI is more optimistically cheering on.

JONATHAN Whats this one all about? A sharing episode? Dont litter? One of the five interchangeable stories?

MARK Its an action driven episode this time. Ill just leave it here for you guys to look at and begin planning. MARK brings out a lighter from his pocket and begins to burn a corner of the script. As it begins to set on fire, he simply drops it to the ground. MARK Have fun. As MARK walks away, a group of people, including VICKI and EDDIE, begin to stomp on the script trying to put out the fire. JONATHAN talks to himself as he secludes himself to his work on the table. JONATHAN I gotta remember to buy Mark a beer sometime soon. THE END

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