The New School of Limited

The other half is a fan of tattoos, and of reality competition shows, so Ink Master is on the watch list will me or nill me. This week, at least, my squirming at the thought of needles in flesh was at least going to be countered by something I’m into: comic books. Specifically, this week was a challenge to tattoo images of DC Comics villains. And, hey, go DC managing the corporate media synergy with their villains month. It’s likely to do much better for them than their other recent villainous move.

On the upside, I don’t recall a single instance of someone saying pow, biff, or ka-pow! in the episode. So, kudos Ink Master for not using the same tactics as nearly every other media tie-in article. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t plenty of annoyance as regarded what “comic book art” is supposed to be.

At least one contestant complained that another’s work was too realistic, and thus inappropriate for comics. Clearly, she’d never heard of Alex Ross. But, since she’s a contestant and not part of the judges’ panel, whom I would assume benefited from more thorough research, we’ll let that go.

But then came the judging, where the panel’s primary criticism of Jime Litwalk’s Poison Ivy tattoo was that it was too “cartoony,” and thus inappropriate for comics.

Sigh.

Comic book isn’t a specific style. Hell, DC Comics isn’t even a style. One of the “human canvas jury” members agrees the tattoo is too “cartoony,” and asks “who’s ever read a comic book that looks like that?”

A “cartoony” comic book? Well, off the top of my head, I can think of books by Todd Nauck, Skottie Young, Gurihiru, and Amanda Conner (you may notice that last link is even on DC Comics’ webpage). Not to mention hyper-talented, sorely missed, late creators like Mike Parobeck and Mike Wieringo.

And that’s just people doing contemporary, corporate super-hero work.

There are legitimate criticisms of the tattoo in question (you can see it here). As people rightly point out, there’s some crazy, Hulk levels of green going on there and muddying the detail, and poor Ivy apparently had to detach her breasts from her body in order to manage that pose. Go after it for those elements. I’m all for it.

I just find it more than a little frustrating when a show that is in part trying to convince me tattoos are a versatile art form turns around and spouts hypocritical, tunnel-vision nonsense about what “comic book” has to look like.

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