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I’ve got something on my mind. It’s because you’ve got something on your skin. I’ve been reading comics ever since I could read. In all of those years, I can count on my left hand the number of comic characters who have tattoos:

Spider Jerusalem (I’ve got Transmetropolitan: Back on the Street right next to me)
Popeye (he yis wat he yis)
Cutie McPopperton from Ross Campbell’s WET MOON with the Borg tattoo.
one of Jim Mahfood’s GRRL SCOUTS

Yes. The only five tatted characters I know and one of which apparently has the superpower to…create tattoos.

This doesn’t include cartoon versions of real people in autobio comics like Liz Prince or Erika Moen. But even those are rare.

In real life, I am in a cafe surrounded by everyday people who have tattoos all over them. Well maybe not this instant, this is the wrong moment–right now I don’t see anybody in the coffeehouse who has visible tattoos. Except her. That woman’s got a tattoo on the backs of her arms. Okay, but GENERALLY SPEAKING, I see tattoos on so many people, mostly folks under forty. My last girlfriend had like eight or nine tattoos and logically would have only continue to collect more since I last saw her.

I understand why there aren’t many tattoos in comics. It’s a lot of work to come up with a design that would be legible in various scenarios (far away panels in which the figure is drawn small would be particularly challenging), but I think that it’s our responsibility–well maybe just MY responsibility to bring that extra bit of realism to the page.

Me, I don’t have any tattoos. I have some scars. Scars have traditionally been more popular with comic artists. (1) Scars show that a character has survived something. Comics still lean heavily toward action as a genre and a scar is a good way of showing that a character has “a history with violence” (pun intended) (2) Scars are MUCH easier to draw and keep consistent. The “manga scar,” which consists of an “X” on the cheek or the “Cable scar” (worn by Marvel’s Cable and PREACHER’s Herr Starr) are pretty popular. In less actiony comics, the good ole trope “cutter scars” are super easy to draw and add instant backstory to your character. I am not making light of cutting, please don’t be offended. Or do.

However, tattoos are rarely seen, even amongst such badasses as we find in hero comics. Wolverine, logically can’t have a tattoo, his body would “heal” it eventually. But what about dudes who have been to war, been around the galaxy and back, died and returned? Hell, even a guy like Cyclops has got some cause to get a sleeve’s worth of decoration. The guy’s got two dead wives and like three missing children. Missing siblings and parents. Just because a dude’s straight-laced doesn’t mean he doesn’t have ink on him. And if you think a guy like Charles Xavier who has the arrogance to name his entire fifty-member supergroup after himself doesn’t have a giant “X” tattooed on his penis, you’re very naive.


But really, will any of the comic artists, writers and character designers reading this join me in my quest to make comics even MORE difficult to draw?


Here’s a random comic page which implies something awful:

didnt do anything 500

Do it for comics,


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  1. Jason A. Quest
  2. ab4dd0n

    Iron Fist?

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