The 10-year anniversary of a tragedy: Homestuck Sharpie Bath Incident (Part 1)

The 10-year anniversary of a tragedy:  Homestuck Sharpie Bath Incident (Part 1)

Charlotte Mahoney (she/it), Staff Writer

This March will be the 10 year anniversary of something that changed the course of human history forever.  Something that shocked me, something that makes me weep every time I think about, something I’ve wanted to investigate for ages.  “What are you talking about?” you may be foolishly asking, but I’ll answer you nonetheless.  I’m talking about the Homestuck Sharpie Bath Incident.

Before I can dive into what the Homestuck Sharpie Bath Incident was, you have to know a little bit about Homestuck.  Homestuck is a webcomic created by Andrew Hussie that began in 2009 and ended in 2016.  Though in the year 2022 Homestuck may no longer be in the cultural zeitgeist, there’s no denying the impact that it had on lonely Tumblr kids in 2012.

2012 was the height of Homestuck’s popularity and with that popularity came cosplayers.  The most popular Homestuck characters to cosplay were by far the trolls. Pictured above are the typical Homestuck trolls.  Gray body paint and orange horns are pretty much all you need to buy for a cosplay of a Homestuck troll.

Gray body paint was the toughest part of the cosplay for most, it was a lot of people’s first experience with body paint, so many cosplayers decided to forego the body paint aspect.  For one cosplayer, however, they were not satisfied with anything except accuracy.  We’ll call this person Tarry, because that’s what the Tumblr post calls her.

At the convention Anime Expo in 2012, a few friends had decided to stay in a hotel and split the cost.  The issue was, more than one person had dropped out and the two friends couldn’t afford to pay for a hotel room all by themselves.  So, one friend suggested they invite a person they met at a convention the year before to help with the cost, and everyone else agreed.

Enter Tarry.  Tarry is someone who’s been described as many things throughout the Sharpie Bath Saga, but the word most commonly thrown around is neurotic.  Tarry seemed normal at first, if not a little excitable, just talking about shared interests and her newest obsession:  Homestuck.  Come the day of the convention and Tarry enters the bathroom to do her makeup for her Troll cosplay.  Two hours pass by, and they haven’t heard anything from Tarry, and the bathroom door is locked. One of the friends forces the door open, expecting something gruesome and bloody, but what she found was so much worse.

The bathroom door swings open with a dramatic crash and the friend sees Tarry submerged in the hotel bathtub filled up with alcohol and Sharpie dye, her clothes sprawled across the bathroom floor.  The friend understandably freaks out at Tarry, screaming about how idiotic this idea was and how it’s going to get them kicked out of the hotel.  After a few more minutes of fighting, Tarry gets out of the bathtub, dyed completely gray, but with multiple skin and ink poisoning issues.  Tarry is kicked out of the hotel and has to pay 700 dollars in damage fees.

I was, unfortunately not able to get an interview with Tarry herself, as she seems to have disappeared off the internet, unfortunately.  I do have a friend who I’ll be speaking to about the incident, and possibly trying to make more sense out of her thought process.  

I spoke with Homestuck expert and AP psychology student Ayah Willson, here’s what she had to say on the matter.  I asked some typical questions and she responded with typical answers, but eventually, we got to the topic of Tarry’s thought process.

Charlotte: Ayah, you’re a psychology student, right?

Ayah: Yes!  Yes I am.

Charlotte: Do you think there was any deeper psychological reason behind this?  Like…  It doesn’t seem very sensible.  Why didn’t she get out of the tub 30 minutes in when she started getting itchy??  It just doesn’t make sense.

Ayah: I’m not sure about before she got into the tub, but my theory is that the sharpie fumes and alcohol messed with her.  Terry got skin poisoning because of the Sharpies, and you can technically get high of Sharpies-  That’s why you’re not supposed to sniff sharpies.

Charlotte: Ohhh…  Yeah that makes sense.

Ayah: I’m 100% sure about the fumes, but the idea in the first place?  Girl….

[Both laugh]

Ayah and I spoke for almost an hour, but we weren’t able to uncover much other than the possible non-sobriety of Tarry during the Sharpie Bath Incident.  And, I think that’s the tragedy of the situation.  We’ll never know.  Tarry and everyone else involved has disappeared from the internet, and it seems like the photo has been wiped from the internet as well.  I couldn’t for the life of me find that photo, and I even scoured the very beginning of /clg/, a 4chan board where the image used to reside.  One thing I won’t do is give up on this case, though.  There’s more to this than anyone knows, and I can tell.  This internet horror story (or comedy, depending on how you look at it) has largely slipped away from public consciousness and that’s an absolute crime.  When I started researching this project it was just a stupid idea, but something doesn’t add up.  Something is off here.

Until next time,

Charlotte Mahoney