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Posted by inferiorego (28313 posts) - - Show Bio

When I was a teenager, the cool thing to do was to get your ears pierced. It was more than that though. It was all about gauging your ears. I saw friends make the holes in their ears large enough to fit a bottle cap through. I had myself a gauged ear piercing. I got it all the way up to 10, and I could fit the non-cotton part of a Q-tip in there. I took the earring out of my ear almost 6 years ago, and I still have a hole there that won't close. It's not too noticeable, but I can only wonder what happened with my old friends with those giant holes in their ears.

Now-a-days, it's all about tattoos. Tattoos say a lot about who you are, what you do, and what you're into. Many times, when passion becomes obsession, a tattoo is quick to follow. It's not uncommon to see someone covered in the things, and the stigma of "a person with a tattoo is a tough guy or a criminal" has quickly faded away.

I love tattoos. In fact, I have clocked roughly 33 hours under the needle. Does it hurt? Yes, but it's worth it. I described the tattooing process last year in another article called "The World of Comic Book Tattoos." As previously mentioned, I got the Alan Scott Lantern tattoo to commemorate the history of comic books and the golden age. It's not just me though. People around the world are also getting comic-related tattoos. Even in my own backyard of the Chicago suburbs, I see people coming into the local comic book shop covered, sometimes head-to-toe, in tattoos, and quite a few are comic book related. Even though I know why I have these tattoos, I've always wondered why other people get comic tattoos. I talked to people I personally know about their artwork to find out why some people feel the need to put their love on their body permanently.

Chris Tennyson is a regular at the local comic book shop who has many interesting pop culture related art work tattooed on his body, including pieces related to the game Hitman, and the television shows Heroes and Lost. Aside from that, Chris also has two comic book related pieces: A Superman shield on his right shoulder and Wolverine’s claw sheaths on the backs of his hands, exactly where Wolverine has them. “I’ve got a lot of minor but annoying health problems, and Wolverine’s primary ability is accelerated healing. Getting his claws was the closest I figured I could get to “being” him. As an artist & comic fan, the sheathes & their placement seemed the most visually appealing, as opposed to just getting a picture of him on my somewhere” states Tennyson.

Tennyson got the tattoos at Taylor Street Tattoo in Chicago and it set him back $100 in total (without tip), which is pretty darn cheap for a tattoo. Tennyson has been a fan of Wolverine since the X-Men FOX cartoon during the 90s and he has a very specific first comic book memory: “The first issues of Wolverine I ever read were issues #65-66, and what sticks in my head…was him getting into a bar fight… and his eyeball being shoved into his skull, and his jaw being dislocated. That bloody, violent image was definitely burned into my young brain.”

He doesn’t want to stop there though. He would like to get all 9 lantern symbols tattooed on him as well. He’s not sure where he’d like to get them though, but he says that realistically, he’d probably just get his favorite symbol, Hope, possibly on his spine.

Corey Stevens has been a comic book fan since he was two or three years old, almost 30 years now. He’s taken his lifelong passion for comics and permanently inked it onto his body. “My current comic book tattoos are a Batman symbol on my left upper arm and a half sleeve of Ghost Rider cover from the Road to Damnation series #1.”

Stevens grew up in the far west suburbs of Chicago and he spent his youth riding dirt bikes, snowmobiles, and three wheelers. He had a couple serious motorcycle accidents and survived them including one where he flipped over his handlebars going 65mph and slid across the gravel and grass. This event, and a love of the character, prompted him to get the tattoo which is on his left arm.

“I started it out with the gray line at Outer Limits Tattoo in Long Beach CA when I lived out there” explains Stevens. “Then started it up again with the color at Inktown in Lombard, IL with Jerry Cross. Both places doing it for roughly $100/hour… So far I have 9.5 hours in and still going.”

Stevens has been a Ghost Rider fan since 2004, when he first saw the Road to Damnation series in a in the Comic Shop Newsletter, and in 2008, when he moved back to Illinois from California someone gave Stevens a stack of comics they didn't want anymore, including the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider volume. From there it seemed to be love.

Aside from finishing up the Ghost Rider tattoo, Stevens has some other plans for comic book tattoos. "I want to add in an Angel drawing that Paolo Pantalena drew. I want to add that to the back half of my arm and from the recent Johnny Blaze series before the Heaven's on Fire, #31 with the fallen Angels in the background of the cover... After that is finished I'd like to do a half sleeve of Batman. I've been collecting Batman and Batman related character comics for artwork ideas, such as the 90's purple costume, Catwoman series."

Lastly, I talked to another rabid comic book fan. One that many members of the Comic Vine community will be familiar with. His name is Joe Lonergan, also known as jloneblackheart on Comic Vine. He has quite a few comic book tattoos including Ghost Rider on his right forearm, Majin Buu's symbol, a Boba Fett related tattoo on his right shoulder, and a Blackheart tattoo on his forearm. "I loved Blackheart in the Marvel Super Heroes fighting game. I like the way he looks and his name suits (or suited) my demeanor" explains Lonergan.

Unfortunately, the tattoo did not come out the way he originally wanted, so he had to go to numerous places: "I actually got the tattoo done in two locations. Long story short, got an apprentice to do it in three sittings for the tune of about $350. Realizing it was kind of [poor] looking, I went and got it fixed at Guyama Ink in Longwood, FL in two more sittings for about $300." Lonergan, in total, sat for five to six hours to complete this tattoo.

Lonergan doesn't have too much planned for his future in the world of comic tattoos though: "I don't have much planned as far as getting any more work done, but I want to. I'm a lot older now then I was then, and it's harder to justify and get around to getting more. If I did get a comic character, it would for sure be Thanos."

People get tattoos for a plethora of reasons, but there's an underlying theme with each reason: love. Whether it's because of health issues, a bike accident, or just because you think it looks cool, the reason these characters get tattooed on someone's body is because they love these characters and love comic books. It's a tribute to an art form that everyone is familiar with, and it's an art form that has consistently remained popular for over 70 years. As long as there is a love for comic books, there will be tattoos to follow.

Mat "inferiorego" Elfring is a comedian, writer, teacher, and a big fan of tattoos.

Follow him on twitter: @inferiorego

Check his comedy fan page out on the facebook: Matspotting!

#1 Posted by Daveyo520 (2447 posts) - - Show Bio

No tattoos for me thanks.

#2 Posted by difficlus (10632 posts) - - Show Bio

@Daveyo520 said:

No tattoos for me thanks.


#3 Posted by Bobafeet (5 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm getting a quarter sleeve of some of James Jean's covers from fables. I'm super excited about it.

#4 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (35176 posts) - - Show Bio

I know quite a few non comic book fans that have superman and punisher tattoos

One Of My Tattoos 
#5 Posted by ReVamp (22798 posts) - - Show Bio

I wouldn't mind. But I'm afraid of Needles. Kinda...

#6 Posted by LordRequiem (1323 posts) - - Show Bio

Eventually I'll get Sentry's watchtower, without the ball on top.

#7 Posted by G-Man (18922 posts) - - Show Bio

I have two comic book tattoos but wasn't contacted for this article. :(

Staff Online
#8 Posted by Mega_spidey01 (3078 posts) - - Show Bio

people do what they to do it.

#9 Posted by Redletter (1536 posts) - - Show Bio

because their awesome & sexy

#10 Posted by thanosrules (546 posts) - - Show Bio

I second jloneblackheart's sentiments (RE: Thanos)... with the addition of the Silver Surfer...

If I was going to get a tattoo, it would be this:

Thanos vs Silver Surfer (B&W)

someday... maybe...

#11 Posted by SuperDoahBoy (135 posts) - - Show Bio

When your passionate about something, the way we are about comics you sometimes feel the need to share that with the world and sometimes a graphic tee don't cut it. Tattoos are B.A.! Geeky tattoos are EPIC...when done right. I don't have any yet but as soon as I get the chance I plan to get more than a couple.

#12 Posted by zombietag (1483 posts) - - Show Bio

@G-Man said:

I have two comic book tattoos but wasn't contacted for this article. :(

hahahhaa thats funny

i have a couple of tattoos, but nothing comic related. maybe someday but im not really sure. most of mine are more about my relationship with God

#13 Posted by ohrenclez (79 posts) - - Show Bio

Damn good article!!!!

#14 Edited by Sammo21 (700 posts) - - Show Bio

People have proven they will get tattoos of ANYTHING. While I find it retarded to mark up your body in such a way (and pay that much money), it's none of my business.

#15 Posted by Mayo88m (246 posts) - - Show Bio

Love tattoos, but I don't know if I'd ever get one based off of a comic book. Each of my tattoos mean something specific to me. A chapter in my life, or something that I feel represents me greatly, and comics just aren't that. Do I love comics, and the stories they provide? Yes. Do I feel they are a big enough part of my life to permanently grace my skin? No.

#16 Posted by Dedpool (376 posts) - - Show Bio

I created a set of tattoos that are symbols that resemble Kanji, but are the initials of family memebers, that include myself, mydaughter, my mom and her sister. Those will be on my biceps, and shoulders. On my forarm I'm getting the bending tribe tattoos from Avatar the Last Airbender, in the order of reincarnation (which is also the order of the seasons) and on my other forearm, I;m getting all nine Lantern symbols.

#17 Posted by Mucklefluga (2602 posts) - - Show Bio

@G-Man: What are your tattoos of?

#18 Edited by ApatheticAvenger (1594 posts) - - Show Bio

I currently have only one tattoo, but I plan to get a lot more. Not sure if I'll get any comic ones, maybe an X-Men logo. I also have my ears gauged, but only at 14 (eventually going to 8).

My Compass Tattoo
#19 Posted by JonesDeini (3501 posts) - - Show Bio

Much as I love Batman, I'm good on getting a Dark Knight tat, folk.

#20 Posted by Mizakazim (2 posts) - - Show Bio


#21 Posted by mrmanga (6 posts) - - Show Bio

I am not good with anything resembling a needle so i will never get a tattoo myself. I have considered getting a Dragonball one with Vegeta but as mentioned my fears will not let me do such things. Also i have a feeling i would regret it later in life. Interesting article though, a fun read.

#22 Posted by bane122 (29 posts) - - Show Bio

I've got a couple myself. I'm very much into symbolism and think a few comic symbols can mean more than just a corporate copyright. I have the S Shield (representing hope and an ideal to strive for) near my right shoulder and a black batsymbol (for strength and determination) going across my chest.

#23 Posted by Wonderboy52 (28 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm planning on getting a full body portrait of Wonder Woman, (pre-revamp) as soon as I can get the money =]. I already have a tattoo from the anime Fooly Cooly <3 I LOVE THAT SHOW

#24 Posted by spartan92 (2512 posts) - - Show Bio

when i had a reaction to the cream i was using

#25 Posted by Raven0207 (1258 posts) - - Show Bio

I've got 2 and about to start a third comic tattoo

Aspen Matthews from Fathom
Grace from Soulfire
#26 Posted by BoosterBold (3 posts) - - Show Bio

Comic book tattoos are cool. I have a tattoo of Skeets on my bum. :D

#27 Posted by TheSavageAssasin (2623 posts) - - Show Bio

I plan on getting a few comic related tattoos. Batman on one arm, Joker on the other.

#28 Posted by NightFang (10274 posts) - - Show Bio

Because comic book tattoos are cool.

#29 Posted by The Devil Tiger (1263 posts) - - Show Bio

Mmmmh, tatoo can be cool, but not comic book one. I must admit that I would have difficulty to take seriously some guys wearing ones.

#30 Posted by maxicere (935 posts) - - Show Bio

Superhero's symbols are great to do in tatoo!! Smallest and just black, no colors. Could be great a Lantern Corp symbol (Red Lantern for me!). I pass the big drawing and colored tattoos

#31 Posted by deadpool25mm (617 posts) - - Show Bio

Tattoo's are stuiped.. one day you'll want it gone, it will look cool for a few days, thats it.

#32 Posted by Decept-O (7295 posts) - - Show Bio

I also have a tattoo.

It is on my ass.

It reads: "Exit Only".

Bwa Ha Haa!

#33 Posted by BabyChooChoo (11 posts) - - Show Bio

I always wanted to get a nice colorful tattoo, but being a black man, the colors just don't pop the same way on my skin. That's just the way it is. If I was a bit lighter, I probably would've gotten a tattoo of Green Lantern, or a nice combo Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman tattoo (as far as comics go at least. If we're talking games I would've gotten a Felicia tattoo by now lol, no questions asked.) But oh well. I've thought about getting a nice black outline tattoo (is that what you would even call that? Is there a specific name for tattoos like that?), but to me, it's just not the same. I just find most of 'em rather bland honestly.

I do want something one day though, I just have to figure out what...

Maybe one of those yakuza shirt tattoos. Yeaaaaah.

#34 Posted by Meteorite (3351 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm still debating whether or not to get an Ouroboros (from Fullmetal Alchemist) tattooed onto my hand... my friends and I were discussing which of the Seven Deadly Sins we all are most like, and since we decided that I'm Greed, it would make sense to get an Ouroboros on my right hand, just like him.

#35 Posted by GothamBat (643 posts) - - Show Bio

I totally agree with you, Mat. Comics have been a big part of my life and I love them so much. I have one tattoo so far, but it's not comic related. But my next one will be. It's going to be Batman related. Not sure what exactly I want though.

#36 Posted by feargalr (1157 posts) - - Show Bio

I got a stargate tattoo like 4 years ago, I haven't regretted it in the slightest.. course its on my back so I never really see it, but still its a good thing

#37 Posted by PrinceIMC (5422 posts) - - Show Bio

I love the Wolverine claws one but my rule is no tattoos that can be seen during a job interview. Once I get my comic tattoo though I'll post pictures.

#38 Posted by OracleX (234 posts) - - Show Bio

I think that tattoos should be considered a very a serious art form. I can't imagine the type of skill you need to be able to draw on different skin textures while keeping a steady hand.

I think it takes a particular type of person to get a tattoo, especially comic-related. Some people grow out of loving comics (I know, a crazy thought) and ten years later your date is asking why you have a tattoo of a guy in a green mask. They also make different statements: A guy with a Superman symbol on his chest suggests a huge ego. The Wonder Woman symbol suggests female-empowerment, or is a man-hater. Visible tattoos don't look good while applying for jobs in certain fields, even as society appears to be loosening up a little.

Personally: My style changes too much for me to want an image etched on my skin. And I'm not a big fan of needles.

#39 Posted by Mercy_ (91888 posts) - - Show Bio

Excellent article! As somebody who's still deciding on what comic book tattoo that they want to get, this is really intriguing to read.

#40 Posted by texasdeathmatch (13122 posts) - - Show Bio
#41 Posted by SilentButcher (15 posts) - - Show Bio

Gonna get a couple comic tats myself. Either the cover of Venom #1 or Venom #4 of Rick Remender's run on one shoulder, cover of Carnage U.S.A. #1 on the other shoulder, and a Nightwing tat across my upper back shoulder area that I'm undecided on. Once I've decided and I have the money it's a done deal for sure.

#42 Posted by crj25 (15 posts) - - Show Bio

I have the nightwing emblem as a wrap-around on my left ring finger, but it's in UV ink so it only shows when it's under a blacklight. I like it cause I know it's there and i can show other people when i choose to but otherwise it can be my secret. plus i love nightwing

#43 Posted by Bestostero (5590 posts) - - Show Bio

If I ever got a tattoo, i wouldn't mind getting the batman/superman symbols... I would get an X (for X-Men) or an A (Avengers) but it would probably be too oblivious to most people... good conversation starter maybe...but i would still prefer the Superman S or Batman.

#44 Posted by thechessclub (483 posts) - - Show Bio
A tattoo I want to get on my wrist
#45 Posted by inferiorego (28313 posts) - - Show Bio

I'll post pictures later but I have about 11ish now and the majority ate family related (family crests and a few dedicated to my grandfather's time in WWII).
Tattoos for me tell the story of your life and I do not regret any of them in the past decade ive spent under the needle. Also, even as a teacher, no one at my work cares about my tattoos. In fact, they all like them.

Lastly, I had no idea GMan wanted to be interviewed.

#46 Posted by DarthStorm (132 posts) - - Show Bio

@texasdeathmatch said:


You are my hero.

#47 Posted by inferiorego (28313 posts) - - Show Bio
@inferiorego Are not ate. Stupid iPhone autocorrect
#48 Posted by n25philly (102 posts) - - Show Bio

The same reason as any other tattoo. Stupidity

#49 Posted by The Impersonator (5620 posts) - - Show Bio

I wonder if those adamantium claws can come out. :P

#50 Posted by Teerack (7461 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd never get a character, but maybe a logo.