by Anthony N. Castle
Ink Tales, an anthology featuring short stories by emerging and established comic creators, is now live with a crowdfunding campaign that will bring its unique concept over the finish line. This new collection features war stories, nightmares, freedom fighters from the future and femme fatales, with each piece sharing a single motif: tattoos. With mere weeks to find the funds needed to get the book to print, Ink Tales editor and contributing writer Dale Maccanti considers the inevitable question…
“Why? Honestly, I love tattoos,” Dale admits, taking a seat in the Prince Alfred Hotel, the venue for the monthly Melbourne Comics Meet. “One night, I came up with the name Ink Tales and I wanted to see different creators attacking this part of the zeitgeist. People assume I don’t have tattoos myself, but…” distracted, Dale gestures across the bar. “See? There, tattoos!”
A nearby comiker tugs at his collar to display his latest tattoo, a portrait of Kathy Kane’s Batwoman across his shoulder blade. A quick survey of the bar reveals someone with the panels of a Batman comic for a sleeve and another has his own artistic signature on his bicep. The query becomes not whether comic creators have tattoos, but rather, if there’s a single one present without ink at all.
“There’s the illustrative connection,” Dale continues. “Comics and tattoos are a visual art form, a pen in an artist’s hand. Obviously, tattoos tell stories as well. There’s a reason behind every one.”
However, the stereotype is often the contrary: the hastily bought tattoo as a symptom of arrested development or the angsty middleclass kid indulging in some kitsch scarification.
“For some it’s like that.” Dale responds. “The story Six Numbers, by Justin Woolley and Grange Wallis, deals with that. See, a bunch of meatheads are using their tattoos to intimidate an old man in the street. He reveals that he has his own tattoo, but for a different reason (no spoilers here, buy the book). It makes the point that there are countless reasons people have tatts. And there’s countless stories there too.”
A quick flick through Ink Tales reveals wide-ranging narratives of guilt, disease, crippled robots, serial killers and cosmic tyranny.
“I didn’t want there to be any restrictions on genre,” Dale explains. “The post-apocalyptic sci-fi story I did with Will Pleydon, Paladin, is similar to the kind of material you’d see in Heavy Metal even. I’d love to see that kind of fantastic world explored further, but all these stories are still based on common experiences.”
It’s an interesting remark, as the alien martyrs of Korta, or the sword-wielding heroine Angelica by Gee Hale, don’t immediately present as common experiences.
“Well, it’s what’s behind each piece. For instance, I wrote the story Replica while staying in the Indian village Kurson. It was dirt poor with cockroaches the width of beer bottles and bat shit everywhere. My mates and I often gave to the beggars there but realised we just couldn’t solve any real issues. That night, I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote that story. It may feature robots, but that’s where it came from.
A long time in the pipeline, Ink Tales is clearly a labour of love for Dale, not just as an expression of taste but as his freshman work.
“This is my debut book and going straight to crowdfunding is a little scary, but I know the talent involved. There are quality stories by veterans like Bruce Mutard and Jason Paulos and new material by up-and-coming creators as well. There’s plenty for people to invest in.”
The Indiegogo campaign for the book is now live, aiming to raise $4,000 by the 16th of November, with plenty of exclusive rewards available as well. The stated aim of the book is to change perceptions regarding tattoos as an art form.
“Tattoos are one of the oldest art forms,” Dale explains. “Almost every pre-modern tribe and culture marked themselves in some way. Tattoos can be big or small, sacred or stupid. Hell, I had two mates who inked each other’s names on their butt cheeks, but there’s a reason behind each one. Every tattoo is a story.”
Others join the table and the discussion quickly turns to anecdotes of fading ink and drunken tattoos gone wrong. Again, someone asks Dale if he sports any decorative ink himself.
“Yeah, I do,” Dale laughs. “I have Spiderman on my back…” Sliding his chair back, Dale leans to roll his sock down momentarily.
“And Felix the Cat on my foot…”
The Ink Tales crowdfunding campaign runs from the 18th of October to the 16th of November.
Support it at www.indiegogo.com/projects/ink-tales-graphic-anthology
From the Press Release:
“This collection features stories of horror, suspense, pain and regret, every one etched in blood and ink.” – Emmet O’Cuana (The Momus Report)
“Does a great job of showcasing the diverse talent emerging from the Australian comics community.” – Kane Melbourne (Non Canonical Comic Podcast)
“Ink Tales suggests that comics and tattoos are quite similar – scar tissue, artistically rendered in ink. It’s a sharp book. I want another tat now…” – Anthony N. Castle (Australian Comics Journal)
WHAT IS INK TALES?
INK TALES is a new, oversized Australian graphic anthology that is centred around the theme of tattoos. From tattooed femme fatales to high-tech tattoo viruses. From alien prophecies to the six deadliest numbers in history, there’s something for everyone.
So it doesn’t matter whether you love or hate tattoos, this graphic anthology will change the way you perceive one of the oldest art forms in human history.
WHO’S INVOLVED IN INK TALES?
INK TALES collects the works of some very talented Australian writers and artists.
• Black Betty
• Ary Bizar
• Steve Boyd
• Jeffrey ‘Chamba’ Cruz
• Gee Hale
• Billy Hysteria
• Andrew Isaac
• Lindy Lou
• Dale Maccanti
• Kate Moon
• Bruce Mutard
• Jason Paulos
• Will Pleydon
• Benjamin Plymin
• Grange Wallis
• Justin Woolley
WHEN WILL INK TALES BE LAUNCHED?
INK TALES is scheduled to be launched in Melbourne sometime in late November or December 2013.
Visit the Ink Tales Facebook page.
Feature art of the front cover of Ink Tales by Jeffrey ‘Chamba’ Cruz.