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Mr. Cartoon

The most daunting aspect of getting a tattoo is committing to the idea of having one image etched into your skin forever. Artist Patrick Yurick had wanted a tattoo for a long time but was having trouble committing to just one design.

After purchasing a Groupon for a tattoo Yurick and his wife spent four months brainstorming before stumbling upon the perfect idea: an empty comic strip. Just like that “My Arm: the Comic” was born.

By getting empty panels tattooed on to his arm Yurick didn’t have to choose one design to be happy with; he is able to fill them with a new comic strip every day. Yurick created a Tumblr account so that he can share the drawings he makes but also so that readers can submit their ideas for future comics.

The cartoonist is able to let his creativity breathe when filling in his tattoo, if a drawing doesn’t work as planned he needs only to hop into the shower and he can start over. While the general medium stays the same — he will always be drawing in the same panels — Yurick is able to play around with a myriad of different styles.

“I used to be very narrow in my stylistic inspirations, when I was younger,” Yurick said. “I have learned, however, that my art is much better when I have a wide range of inspirations that I am open to. Working as a high school art teacher for the past couple of years I have done so many different kinds of public works art projects, in diverse mediums, that I feel like I will never just settle on any one. What would be the fun of that?”

Yurick is working as a freelance artist so he doesn’t have as much time to work on filling in his tattoo as often as he would like.

“I have skipped whole weeks!” Yurick said. “The comic tends to take between 30 minutes to one hour of time and some weeks/days I just don’t have the time for it,” Yurick said. “I want the comic to honor being whimsical and creative. I have plenty of other art projects that are about craft, deep reflection, and refinement. This one is about me relaxing and being creative.”

One of the things that Yurick had wanted to do with the tattoo was to have other artists take over his role occasionally and draw a comic on his arm. Despite many offers Yurick has yet to find someone willing to follow through.

“I’ve had requests but no artists yet,” Yurick said. “A lot of my friends have been weirded out by the intimacy involved with physically drawing on someone else. It will happen.”

If you recognize the setup that Yurick has used with the panels — four panels with the third panel being left open — there’s a reason for that; he chose the style to pay homage to Bill Watterson’s iconic comic “Calvin and Hobbes.”

“I did the ‘beat’ panel as the third as a nod to Bill Watterson,” Yurick explained. “The borderless panel adds a sense of importance to a gridded comic page.”

As the cultural significance of the daily newspaper has waned over the years so too has the significance of the daily comic strip. It is impossible to imagine a modern strip obtaining the same level of notoriety as Peanuts.

Yurick believes that the idea behind comic strips can be traced all the way back to the cave paintings in El Castillo, Spain, so it is only natural that they will adapt and find a new medium to thrive in.

“At the heart of this entire goofy idea of ‘My Arm: the Comic’ is this celebration of the art form’s ability to adapt. The comic will never die,” Yurick said. “Asking if the comic will survive the end of print is like asking whether music will survive the end of the recording industry. The art adapts and figures out how to be what it needs to be. In my case it became a tattoo.”

While Yurick plans on continuing with the project for the foreseeable future he has given some thought as to how he will end it all.

“If I do decide to end it I will black in all of the panels with the last one saying ‘The End,’” Yurick said.