(Like a third of the country, I am dealing with frozen formerly cumulus cloud...so here is a post from my other blog from a year ago, "The Lost Art of the Tattoo Gag")
You don't see too many tattoo gags anymore. At one time, the staple of the stapled joke digest, I guess the now all too familiar "tramp-stamp" on women's lower backs helped make the tattoo as a joke topic less funny somehow. I can also assure you if you DO laugh, you won't be seeing it for much longer. Either SHE will pull them up and leave in a huff, or HE will kick your ass.
I'm not quite sure the relationship between the tattoo artist and the cartoonist. Both are certainly adept at drawing babes...but did Sailor Jerry draw cartoons? (His "official" site now seems to be owned by a booze company, so instead you get a link to wiki with no pictures.) Of course tattoo decoration goes back to Caesar...but then busty women were drawn on the walls of caves. Now that I think of it, maybe those early erotic cave drawings were primitive flash and the dens actually parlors.
Tattoos of dames are closely related to the hot babe nose art painted on the cones of WW2 Bomber Planes and pinups drawn on duffel bags. Most platoons had a fellow who could draw hot ones, and they often did in trade for a few cigarettes. It is also a quite common subject category in postcard collecting...both actual photographs of them and goofy cartoon sailors.
Certainly the skill was, and is, interchangeable. Once you can draw a gal with gams, you can put it anywhere. A carny's arm, a sailor's chest or a biker's bicep in days gone by, or on the most friendly gentle person of either gender today, but for the life of me I can not think of a cartoonist who started as a body inker. Of course today there are hundreds of tattoo artists who create paintings and fine art as well.
The stigma is gone. So is the once common "joke" about getting drunk and waking with a decorated arm, the muscles which could be tensed to make a dame on your chest shimmy, and the ship design which "sinks" as a fellow ages.
If anyone out there needs a topic for a doctoral thesis, consider erotic body illustration and how it relates to girly pin-up gags of the 1950s and 1960s.
by Jim Linderman
Dull Tool Dim Bulb Books HERE