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Archive for May, 2006
From the great illustrator Christopher Silas Neal (and a great guy, to boot). He does some comic stuff too, which you can check out here.Posted by Tim Leong on May 19th, 2006 filed in Blog, Not Comics |
Slow Posting, my apologies
It’s been crazy bananas back in the real job. I’ve been working 12-hour days and weekends so I apologize for the lack of posting.
Interesting notes while I get back in the groove of comic-things:
X-MEN 3 will be the cover of the next Entertainment Weekly. (hush)
What I Just Read:
Death Note, Vol. 2
Starman TPB, Vol. 1
52, issue 2
What I’m Reading:
Fell, issue 5
Transmetropolitan TPB, Vol. 6
What I’m Reading Next:Posted by Tim Leong on May 18th, 2006 filed in Blog |
Death Note, Vol. 3
Y: The Last Man, Vol. 7
Batman Year 100, issue 4
I have no idea where this came from.Posted by Tim Leong on May 11th, 2006 filed in Blog |
GROUNDED ON GAWKER
This week In Gawker’s analysis of New York Magazine’s LOOK BOOK section, you can find indie scribe Mark Sable as a guest commentator.
Desmond says that his comfort is his scarf and pocket square. What other physical objects does he find comfort in?
A check for a million dollars, which he’s about to hand over to a former Nigerian official who e-mailed Desmond’s asking for help transferring his assets to the United States. And P. Diddy’s umbrella.
Full text in this link.Posted by Tim Leong on May 10th, 2006 filed in Blog |
HOLD THE PHONE
HOLD THE PHONE
Wait a minute, I thought. Didn’t I just go to Steve Wacker’s office to do a production story on 52? Yes, I did.
Them’s the breaks, folks.Posted by Tim Leong on May 10th, 2006 filed in Blog |
WISH ME LUCK
WISH ME LUCKPosted by Tim Leong on May 9th, 2006 filed in Blog |
Malegrams, the FOB section I used to art direct, is up for an ASME award (American Society of Magazine Editors) for Best Magazine Section. The awards are tonight. Low life designers like me don’t get to go or anything, but I’ll be rooting from my ofice.
REMINDER: CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE
REMINDER: CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE
We’ve got great stories this month, including
Check them out, folks. You won’t be sorry.Posted by Tim Leong on May 9th, 2006 filed in Blog |
WHAT I JUST READ
WHAT I JUST READ
Death Note vol. 1by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Transmetropolitan vol. 6 by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson
WHAT I’M READING
Akira vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo
WHAT I’M READING NEXTPosted by Tim Leong on May 8th, 2006 filed in Blog |
The Tickling by Renee French, Top Shelf
Starman vol. 1 by James Robinson and Tony Harris
WATCH ADAM HUGHES DRAW
WATCH ADAM HUGHES DRAWPosted by Tim Leong on May 8th, 2006 filed in Story Archive, Blog | 1 Comment »
As promised I went down to Midtown Comics to check out the books. The only one that was gone before I got there was the Owly book. Very popular. I think I picked up everything except for the Conan book, but only because it slipped my mind. Nothing really jumped out at me as being spectacular. Scott Pilgrim was probably the most fun, though.
While there I ran into Drew Melbourne, author of the Dark Horse Book Arch Enemies. Good guy, good book.Posted by Tim Leong on May 8th, 2006 filed in Blog |
MANGA: Orignal English Dispute
One of the biggest news stories in recent years has been the explosion of manga in bookstores and comic stores. Reaching places comics haven’t seen since the heydays of the early 1980s, it has changed the way people look at the future of comics in America. Originally imported from Japan, in the past 18 months new comics have been produced that follow some of the rules of manga but being produced by non-Japanese residents. In the hurry to identify and understand the changes coming around the pike, there has been great debate as to what to call these comics: manga, comics, or something else. Although the debate of the naming of something might seem trivial, it belays a deeper root problem into the acceptance of ‘foreign’ influences and their impact on the works created afterward.
There are many terms floating out there for it: OEL manga, post-manga, amerimanga, nissei comi, western manga, world manga, pseudo-manga and more. While ‘amerimanga’ is the oldest term for these comics, it went out of favor as manga increasingly permeated English-speaking culture increased due to its’ America-centric connotations. Today, the most commonly used and generally accepted term is “OEL Manga” or Original English Language Manga. This is still in my opinion a transition phrase, but has effectively brought the classification from a negative connotation to at least a neutral one, and symbolizes the progress of acceptance of local comics works influenced by manga. While some traditionalists disagree with any non-Japanese made comic being labeled with the Japanese word “manga,” efforts to disambiguate the use of the word “manga” to describe works not of Japanese origin haven’t come to a consensus. This isn’t a problem unique to English speaking culture; Korean has ‘manwha’, while Europe has their own: ‘la nouvelle manga.’ Semantics aside, to identify and understand the comics being created that owe some influence to Japanese-created comics (a.k.a. manga), you have to know what manga is in the first place.
Although the word ‘manga’ has roots in 17th century Japan to describe a style of painting less concerned with minute details and more with entertaining and meaningful connotations, it wasn’t until 1947 that the word ‘manga’ became the identified as what it is today. In 1947, cartoonist Osamu Tezuka released a novel-length drawn story entitled “Shintakarajima” (or New Treasure Island, in English), the very first well-known tankoubon or graphic novel. Inspired by the recent importation of the Disney movie “Snow White & the Seven Dwarves,” Tezuka took a bit of that style, with a bit of his own, and applied it to the already present medium of sequential art that had been present in previous forms on the island. Although he would not cement the movement known as manga until the release of “Astro Bo”y years later, this is where Japan’s comic art movement known as manga began.
Some argue that manga is, and only is, the unreproducible model of the Japanese comic industry in format, content, style, storytelling and most stringently, origin. While this culturist viewpoint is shared by some, by and large artwork is now seen as more culturally transient, as the separation between cultures is increasingly blurred and recognizable not as regional cultures but as global. With that being said, the general principles of manga that are commonly agreed upon are exaggerated facial expressions, emphasis on emotional (rather than plot-like) storytelling, and continued development of the characters over the course of the story. Although I’m sure the boundaries and intricacies of manga are not as clearly described here as some would like, these general points help better understand manga in relation to wider medium of comics.
With a definition of manga in one hand, and the abbreviated origin in another, we must now go into how manga came from Japan to permeate English-speaking shores as it is today.
In the early 1980s, the influence of Japanese manga and anime (animation produced in Japan in a style similar to manga) began to infiltrate English-speaking comics. Manga reached American shores either through unofficial imports of the original Japanese volumes, or through fledgling efforts of American publishers to reprint manga stories re-forged in the popular America serialized issue format. 1983’s “Ronin “by Frank Miller was clearly inspired by Kazuo Koike’s “Lone Wolf and Cub” (which wasn’t officially published in America until 1987, but available much earlier), mostly clearly though the use of strong emphasis on visuals and character interaction over more plot-oriented pacing that was commonly seen in American comics. This inspiration was taken further with 1984’s “Mangazine” (and later “Ninja High School”) by cartoonist Ben Dunn, whose influences were evident in the artistic style as well as the story, which parodied famous anime and manga conventions. It’s these two examples which most clearly lay out the two paths that the influence of manga would take on English-speaking comics: some, such as Miller, would take influence from the manga and incorporate it into their own style, while others, such as Dunn, would be more heavily influenced by the manga art form and become, by extension, a manga-styled artist themselves.
The influences of manga in American comics continued to bubble to the surface with such works as 1989’s “Dirty Pair” by cartoonist Adam Warren, and the emergence of manga inspired artists in the dominant American superhero genre in 1994 with Joe Madureira and his work on Marvel Comics’ “X-Men.” While Warren brought his manga-inspired art style and storytelling to “Dirty Pair” as both writer & artist, the manga influence of Joe Madureira as seen in superhero comics was purely of a visual nature as overlaid on his root influence of superhero comics by way of Art Adams. Nonetheless, it was the work of Madureira, along with J. Scott Campbell and Chris Bachalo, that manga-influenced comics gained its first major foothold in the English-speaking comics community.
But it was during that same time period that another American artist would learn first-hand. In 1995, Paul Pope began working with Japan’s biggest manga publisher, Kodansha. “Manga has become surprisingly big in the States and I am the one comics guy that worked for five years for the biggest Japanese comics publisher,” said Pope in a 2006 interview with Publishers Weekly Comics Week. “I know the structure of manga. I consider it my graduate school.”
Although his work for Kodansha remains largely unpublished, Pope’s tenure there gave him a unique skill set that would prove invaluable to his development, as seen in works such as “Heavy Liquid” and “100%.” Wildly influential to later cartoonists, Pope’s foundation in both American comics and Japanese manga puts him squarely in history as one of the first hybrids of the field.
In that same time period, lesser-known cartoonists at the time began exploring the avenues exposed by the influence of manga. Colleen Doran’s long-running series “A Distant Soil,” David Mack’s “Kabuki,” Lea Hernandez’ work and others continued to build foundations in the comic readership at the time for further development of the themes highlighted by manga. American independent publisher Dark Horse as well has been seen as one of the first, and most long lasted, American publishing houses with devotion to manga.
The first full-scale explosion of manga to American shores began in the late 1990s with relatively new publishers finding success by reprinting Japanese manga in affordable manga-sized digest books and building the comic niche in bookstores. By carefully culling from 40 years of Japanese manga largely unseen by American eyes and choosing properties that had cross-over appeal with popular American kids television cartoons such as “Pokemon” and “Dragonball Z,” which were also produced in Japan. These were not overnight successes, but longtime efforts by publishers such as TokyoPop and Viz that finally reaped rewards for those companies.
Sales grew, in no small part due to the increased footprint of comics in bookstores thanks to its’ reach outside typical comic readers; and people took notice. Publishers in and out of the manga reprint business saw new avenues to wider readership audiences developing with manga’s reach, and took the next logical step and greenlighted original work created for the English-speaking market that still could be considered and promoted through the roads manga had forged. Not only would they not be tied down to the limited and contencious resource of manga from Japan, but they would be more than reprinters but originators and, in some cases, co-owners of the new creations. For while the success of titles such as Naruto spread to manga, television and merchandising, the American manga publishers were not owners of the property, and could not reap any additional rewards that their promotion of the property developed.
Although Viz has thus far avoided this avenue, TokyoPop has dominated the field with more than 60 OEL mangas released with more to follow. American independent companies such as Oni Press, Seven Seas, Marvel Comics, DC Comics and others have all produced manga-influenced work and have taken advantage of the consumer acceptance of the $10 or less manga sized black & white digest format.
With manga reaching English-speaking audiences beginning the early 80s, the younger generation who grew up as manga reach grew was brought up on a different kind of comic than previous generations. While the cartoonists of the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s were primarily influenced by previous American comics, the late ‘90s saw an explosion of new comics artists coming of age and begin to publish their work. The mainstream acceptance of manga was not overnight; existing in the background and as a cult-type art movement only indoctrinated and won over children who would grow to be teenager ands adults, both readers and creators.
When asked by David Welsh in a 2005 interview for ComicWorldNews.com about the influence of manga on his work, cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley explained that he had gone through a manga phrase, but wasn’t in mind to become a ‘manga artist’ per se. “It’s part of the vocabulary of comics that I’m still learning. The stuff that TokyoPop is printing right now reminds me of work that friends of mine were doing online in the late ‘90s. I always used to wish that there were publishers who would go full tilt with that stuff, and now there is one, so I think it’s good. It would warm the heart of my 17-year-old self, that’s for sure. I guess I grew up and adapted to what was available. I got here too early.”
While it is true that a few artists might be mimicking the styles presented in Japanese manga to capitalize on a perceived boom in that, for most cartoonists working in this broad movement are influenced by manga, but along with influences of other artistic movements in and out of the comics medium. In the end, this fusion of manga, comics, and the entire pop cultural spectrum leads to a gestalt that in some instances resemble manga. What is called OEL manga today is merely techniques taken from manga and combined into each cartoonist’s broader style of work. By assimilating the influence of manga into their overall make-up as artists, they produce works influenced by manga, but progressing on their own unique path.
Going back to my original matter, trying to label the original English language comics that show inspiration as manga as purely derivate of manga is an unfair means of segregating and classifying artwork and not taking into account the broad range of influences impacting people living in his post-modern culture. We’re at a transitional period in the influence of Japanese manga upon the landscape of comics worldwide; what was once disparate cultures only looking inward is now a global culture taking influence from anywhere and from any time. To use a metaphor, just as the British music invasion spearheaded by the Beatles in 1960s was seen as an “invasion” on American culture, the musicians of the time soaked in this new influence and came back years later with it’s own creative response to what they had heard prior. Although the term OEL Manga has taken big steps for the sake of this art movement, it still in some ways stereotypes works of this nature the way some stereotype comics of the superhero genre.
At the end of the day, there is one thing pretty much everyone can agree on; it’s comics. Manga is comics. “Superman” is comics. Political cartoons are comics. “Calvin & Hobbes” is comics. Instead of classifying comics by the country of original or the style it’s drawn (as style is subjective), a more reasonable approach would be to take cues from your local library and classify by genre. Yes, comics would be its own section away from mere words written on a page, but inside this comics section would be sub-sections based not on the origin of the creator, but by the subject matter of the story.
Think about it: If Osamu Tezuka, Bryan Lee O’Malley and Frank Miller each wrote a fictional novel about the same subject, no matter how differently they’d write it, it could all be filed in the same section: fiction. Instead of filing by the subjective parameters of style, origin or publisher (that’s another subject), it could be done in a more concerted fashion to make it more inclusive (instead of exclusive) to readers and potential readers. While this solution, or any solution, is years away… it’s a goal we could look to. I am.Posted by Tim Leong on May 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |
Comic Book Ink
By Laura Hudson
TIT FOR TAT
Like a lot of kids, Brandon Knutson loved Batman. One of his earliest memories as a child was the 1989 Batman movie, and from that moment on, he had a hero. Knutson collected Batman action figures, wore Batman costumes, and watched the Batman cartoon. “I loved what he stood for,” said Knutson. “He didn’t need superpowers… he was just in a position to take action, and he did.” When Knutson got older, rather than growing out of his childhood fascination, he decided to reaffirm it with a very permanent action: he got a Batman tattoo.
Knutson’s story is not unusual; once considered the domain of sailors, soldiers and rebels, tattoos are now more popular in mainstream culture than ever before. Despite lingering taboos, a 2003 Harris poll found that 16 percent of Americans, or approximately 40 million people, have tattoos. As a lifelong commitment, tattoos are unavoidably significant, and common sense holds that they should be chosen carefully, to reflect something permanent and lasting. Why then, some wonder, do so many people choose comic book characters for their tattoos?
The motivation behind a comic book tattoo can be simple aesthetics; people like images that are attractive or cool, and superheroes tend to be both. The two most popular types of comic book tattoos are icons, like the X-Men “X” or the Superman “S,” and full character images. The latter category includes female comic book characters adapted into pin-up girl tattoos, a style that has long been popular with men for reasons other than fandom.
Keith Ciaramello, owner and artist at the Baldwin, New York-based Kustom Kulture Ink Tattoos, recalls numerous men choosing images from Top Cow swimsuit issues. “Men like to get tattoos of women,” says Ciaramello, who sees a very natural aesthetic instinct at work. “It’s the same reason Renaissance sculptors weren’t sculpting chickens, they were sculpting the human form.”
More often than not, though, superhero tattoos are more than pretty pictures to the people who choose them. They are intended to tell us something about who that person is, even if the message is simply, “I’m a comic book fan.” As Alastair Cameron-Hodges, an artist at Mom’s Tattoo in Amherst, Mass. says, “It boils down to this: Some people really like the Red Sox, so they get a tattoo of their logo. Other people grew up reading comic books and look to them for inspiration.”
Dan Buczynski of Pittsburgh, Penn., a professional photographer, was inspired to tattoo a camera-toting Spider-Man on his right forearm. The character usually appears to hang upside-down, but when Buczynski raises his camera to shoot, Spidey seems to do the same. “It’s funny that Spider-Man’s alter-ego, Peter Parker, is a photographer,” says Buczynski, a lifelong fan of the web slinger who sees more than coincidence in their shared profession. “I’ve had an interest in photography since my teens, and…it might have spawned from my love of the character.”
Chris Kohler of San Jose, Calif. also attaches a very individual meaning to the tattoos he calls his “personal totems.” Kohler displays Captain America on his right shoulder, and Cap’s nemesis Red Skull on his left. “Having both characters on me created a sort of a moral balance,” says Kohler. He later added a tattoo of Dr. Doom, a more ambivalent character whom Kohler felt was neither good nor evil, but rather fell into a more complicated and human space between, as almost all of us do.
Most tattoos pay tribute to a particular hero, team, or series, but Jess Hampton of Regina, Saskatchewan cited an even more specific motivation for her Bat logo tattoo: a single story. “I’d been a Batman fan since I was about ten,” she says, “But The Killing Joke affected me very profoundly.” Rather than a public homage to Batman or comic books, her tattoo was a personal reminder of a work that had moved her
“The Killing Joke is one particular graphic novel that illustrates the emotions of comic characters and really pulls apart their layers,” says Hampton. “So many people assume comics are just action and don’t touch on anything like societal or cultural issues. The truth is, comics are infinitely deconstructable and are mirrors of society, of ourselves.”
If comics, like other forms of art, are a mirror held up to the world, then many fans who look into it see the face of a superhero looking back. Often, someone chooses a particular character not just to communicate that he is a fan, but because “that’s how he idealizes himself in his mind,” says Ciaramello. “It’s more of a personal statement than a fan gesture.”
For men who see themselves as bad boys, anti-heroes or even villains might be their characters of choice. Ciaramello sees this as part of an older trend; in the ‘60s, “Every guy who thought he was a little bit of a wild man” wanted a tattoo of Hot Stuff the Little Devil, and in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it became the Tasmanian Devil. “I think that’s why Wolverine is so popular now as a tattoo,” says Ciaramello. “He represents the wild, berserker tough guy.”
Such “tough guys” play into the stereotypical belief that tattoos are rebellious and anti-establishment. But despite the iconoclastic reputation body art still carries in some circles, one of the most popular superhero tattoos is an icon that runs very counter to those notions.
The Superman symbol, a red “S” in a blue shield, is one of the most recognizable icons in our culture. One poster for the new Superman movie consists of a single image: an “S.” The poster doesn’t mention the name of the movie, because it doesn’t need to — the symbol tells us everything we need to know. Countless men and women choosing tattoos have felt the same way.
Athletes in particular seem drawn to the Superman logo; it also graces the triceps of Olympic long jumper Savante Stringfellow, NFL center Ryan Tucker, and perhaps the most famous of all Super-tattooed athletes: the 7′1″, 330-pound NBA center Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal sees Superman’s dual identities reflected in his own life, and the distinction he makes between the personas he calls Shaquille and Shaq.
“They are the same person, but it’s kind of like Clark Kent and Superman,” said O’Neal in a 2002 New Yorker interview. “During the day, I am Shaquille, and at night I am Shaq.”
Heroes and their alter egos appeal to a common sentiment: the feeling that who really we are is different from the person that the rest of the world sees. Tommy Strangie, a.k.a. Shelley Novak, a prominent
Miami drag queen, knows the feeling all too well. A fan of comic books since childhood, Strangie realized as a teenager that he was gay. “You live a double life, then, trying to figure out what’s going on. I could relate to the Clark/Superman thing.” He tattooed the symbol on his arm in the mid-80s, inspired both by the symbolic duality and a similar tattoo sported by then-superstar Jon Bon Jovi.
Strangie later moved to Miami Beach, where he created a very literal alter ego, a drag character called Shelley Novak. After his shows, he would often pull a Clark Kent, circulating among the audience out of costume and asking about the show. Audience members, who failed to recognize him, would offer up the unvarnished truth. “I was leading another double life,” he says.
Strangie, who is often approached by others with Superman tattoos, adds that, “Everyone has images that are conjured up by [the icon]. It means different things to different people.” Those people include basketball stars and drag queens, men and women, young and old, in America and all around the world. Symbols have the meaning we give them, and quite naturally when we look at our heroes, we tend to see ourselves — or else, our ideal selves.
For Arune Singh, who tattooed the Superman icon on his left shoulder the day before Christopher Reeve’s death, his tattoo is “a reminder to look for the best in people.” Singh, a writer at comicbookresources.com who also wants to pursue a career in law enforcement, also says that the tattoo reminds him “to embody the ideals of truth and justice.”
Candice P. of Fort Worth, Texas also sees her Superman tattoo as a very personal symbol that represents the ordinary heroism she hopes to demonstrate in her daily life. “I know I can’t fly [and] don’t have super-strength, but in my everyday life and job sometimes I help people and…even save the day.”
Bodybuilder Lee Priest, an ardent Superman fan with a tattoo to match, was inspired not only by Superman’s physical strength, but also his principles. As Priest’s mother explains on his official Web page, he discovered Superman at age six, and soon asked his mother to make him the first of many Superman suits. The costumes “gave him the courage he needed. He became a bit of a hero in his own right… He loved to right all wrongs and be friend to those who didn’t have any.”
For these three tattooed individuals, Superman is not only a hero, but a role model, and the distinction is important. A hero does the things we wish we could do, but a role model inspires us to do those things ourselves. For fans like these, their tattoos represent not only the hero they love, but the principles he represents, and ultimately, the kind of person they aspire to be.
The 2000 DC Comics mini-series “Realworlds: Superman” featured a man named Eddie Dial, a mild-mannered grocery store employee. After a long night of drinking, he awoke and discovered to his horror that a life-size Superman emblem had been tattooed across his chest by a local thug. Suddenly, everything changed — thanks to the tattoo Eddie was mocked, fired, arrested, and beaten within an inch of his life.
Then, something incredible happened. Eddie decided to claim the symbol as his own, and slowly remade himself into a muscleman strong enough to fight the bully who humiliated him. What had once been a mark of shame became a symbol of empowerment, and Eddie became a different man.
Although Eddie isn’t real, his metamorphosis is far from fictional. Throughout history, tattoos have had the power to confer identity, transforming their bearers into both slaves and warriors, outcasts and heroes. People believed that symbols inked on the skin had the power to tell a man who he was, and to inscribe his destiny.
Although life still marks us indelibly as we run its temporal gauntlet, the only tattoos we bear today are the ones we choose. In a world where people are often judged at first glance, tattoos can convey where we have been, what we love, and who we are without saying a word. Like Herman Melville’s Queequeg or Ray Bradbury’s Tattooed Man, we can make our skin a parchment, and use it to tell the tale of ourselves, however we wish to write it.
“I think about the reasons that people get tattoos,” says Jess Hampton, “And I guess none of them are wrong reasons. It’s perfectly fair to get a tattoo of something just because it looks cool. For me, though, it made a lot of sense to pay homage to a piece of writing that deeply affected me… I love all aspects of comics — the deep stuff and the silly surface stuff — and I think my tattoo, to me at least, represents both.”
Of course, the story a tattoo tells and the one that others hear are not always the same, but most people report very positive reactions. Often, they approached by fellow fans eager to talk about comics, or even share their own superhero tattoos. “I get all kind of compliments,” says Buczynski of his Spider-Man tattoo, “Ranging from little kids going ‘Spider-Man! Spider-Man!’ and pointing to my arm to adults of all ages saying how much they like it.”
There is, of course, the occasional ribbing: Bat logo tattoos seem to encourage the impromptu singing of the ‘70s Batman theme song, while Superman images may elicit “This is a job for…,” jokes from friends.
Kohler mentions that his parents were “not very thrilled” when he started getting comic book tattoos, “[But] I didn’t join a biker gang or become unemployable, so they live with it.” Such teasing and parental disapproval seem no deterrent to those eager to ink themselves with heroes — people like Brandon Knutson, whose Batman tattoo is a constant reminder that “you can do anything you feel strongly about, and that you can find the good in any horrible situation.”
Of course, some people choose them for less thoughtful or laudable reasons, but for every remorseful 30-something with a hastily-inked Vampirella pin-up he regrets, there is someone like Strangie, who 20 years later says his Superman tattoo is “even more powerful” to him than the day he got it.
A superhero tattoo might seem like nothing more than an act of ego or wishful thinking, but to dismiss it so easily overlooks something else that superheroes represent: that people can be more than what they appear to be, that seemingly ordinary joes can be capable of extraordinary things, and that symbols can both inspire and transform us. Perhaps it is because they can remind us of what we knew as children, when we dressed up in the costumes of heroes: that we have the power to imagine ourselves as the people we want to be.
When we choose them well, tattoos are the stories we tell about the parts of ourselves that matter, the parts of ourselves that will endure. For some, the stories of superheroes are the ones that tell it best.
-Alastair Cameron-Hodges of Mom’s Tattoo says, “Do your homework: Don’t assume that any tattoo artist can do the tattoo that you want. Check their portfolio to see what style they specialize in or enjoy most. If you want a superhero tattoo, try to find someone who is into comic books.” As with any tattoo, “ask questions, and try to get a feel for the situation.” Make sure that you–and the artist—feel confident about the tattoo before getting in the chair.
-Keith Ciaramello of Sketchkult.com warns that direct translation between comics and body art is difficult, and that “most comic imagery is not meant to be tattooed. You can’t crosshatch on a tattoo. You have to simplify these designs and shade them in more of an airbrushed style, rather than a pen and ink style, especially if you want your tattoo to have a long life and not turn mushy in 10 or 12 years.” He notes that icons, like the Superman S or the X-men X, work better as tattoos than full character images.
-John Montgomery of Bombshell Tattoos in Houston, Texas agrees: “straight-from-comic art is near impossible to replicate because of the hatching/crosshatching shading that many artists use. Too much detail in the linework can result in disaster months down the line when… [it can] blob together and become near-indistinguishable.” Rather than simply handing a tattoo artist a page from a comic book, work with an artist to design “a piece to fit the body part. A lot of pieces straight from the book aren’t really shaped to take the most advantage of the space provided, another reason it would be good to have an adept artist work with you.”
-19th century Maori warrior Netana Whakaari advises choosing images with lifelong meaning: “You may lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways. You may lose your house, your wife and other treasures. But of your [tattoo], you cannot be deprived except by death. It will be your ornament and companion until your last day.”Posted by Tim Leong on May 5th, 2006 filed in Story Archive |