Alpena tattoo artist inspired by comic book art

Jason Ogden
Alpena News

Alpena — Nearly everyone has a favorite superhero. For Alpena resident and tattoo artist Jason Parker, it’s Daredevil.

It was a character in one of the comic books his father bought him when he was young and on a trip from Flint to Alpena to visit his grandparents.

“That was probably when I was 6,” he said. “But I really don’t remember actually reading any until I was about 12 or 13.”

Little did Parker know it but that introduction to comic books when he was a kid would have a large impact on his entire life.

Parker read the books as a youth and it helped him get inspired to learn how to draw, he said. He would copy what he saw in the books and even look at different anime items to get ideas.

“Those were the two things that taught me how to draw,” he said.

But in his late teens comic books went to the wayside, and Parker said he forgot about them until he discovered graphic novels.

“I ended up getting a graphic novel and that is what got me back into comics,” he said. “I can’t remember but someone let me borrow one or I saw one somewhere, but I got one — I am not even sure which one it was.”

Graphic novels, Parker said, are collections of comic book series or long comic stories combined into a single book. Unlike comic books, Parker said, they are usually multiple comic issues bound into one book and printed on heavier paper and are more durable than traditional comic books.

After reading a few graphic novels, the old juices of comic book reading began to flow again and Parker was hooked.

He said it started as a few a month, but his collection has grown substantially, with more than 200 in his collection. Broken down into individual comic books that would be thousands of books.

Much of the new found interest was a nostalgia factor for Parker, he said.

“There were a lot of the older books from when I was a kid, like Daredevil,” he said.

Parker said to this day he still will pick up a Daredevil book whenever he sees it in a comic book store.

As more and more people get into comic books, they are becoming mainstream, Parker said. He said there was a point when every comic book was being made into a movie, which admittedly is not a bad thing to him.

“I think it was when X-Men came out, my buddy said ‘I am glad I live in an age where comic book movies are a thing now,’ and I though he was right,” Parker said.

Parker said as comics branch out to the mainstream they are not just for kids anymore. Many of the topics and areas covered by the books are very adult subjects, he said.

One comic, called Maus, outlines the topic of the Holocaust during World War II using cats and mice. The book, created by Art Spiegelman, won the Pulitzer Prize for literature. It was the first graphic novel to win the prize.

Parker said there are various comics that lend themselves to all ages and said they have been a big inspiration in his life.

“A lot of it is just the art, I like to look at cool art,” he said. “But a lot of it inspires me.”