In just a year, tattoo late-comer Ronnie Reynolds has transformed his skin into a living comic book


INKED WELL | Reynolds has turned himself into a walking comic book, with every member of Marvel’s Avengers on his left arm. (DC’s Justice League will adorn his right.) (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)


STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
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The-Art-issue-2012-logoFor many people, it starts with a tiny butterfly on the nape of the neck, or maybe a four-leaf clover on an ankle. The ritual of the tattoo: You start small and build.

Not Ronnie Reynolds. The 44-year-old bartender and aspiring novelist has been under the needle at least 17 times, representing literally dozens of images. And he’s collected all of them since last year.

He began, ironically, with a tattoo tribute to his mother, who passed away three years ago.

“She would kill me for getting a tattoo,” Reynolds says of the ink marking her birthday and death. That one paved the way for additional tattoos: His and his partner’s names, their anniversary, illustrations of their pets. But now his arms are like living comic books.

Easily his most elaborate tat is the half-sleeve depiction of The Avengers superheroes on his left forearm. It features 100 character heads, including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and his own favorite, the Scarlet Witch. In addition, a scene from The Avengers wraps around his entire leg.

Reynolds’ love for comic books is evident elsewhere, too, with Spider-Woman on his upper arm and Batgirl and Black Canary on his right forearm. That side will eventually display DC Comics’ Justice League of America.

If you think he’s comic crazy, you’re right: Reynolds has a collection so massive, he hopes one day to sell it and retire from the proceeds. But his personal favorite among his tats isn’t even a fictional character.

“It’s Agatha Christie — I can see it every time  I am writing on my computer to give me inspiration. I love my old murder mysteries even more than my comics,” he says.

His first novel is a murder mystery set in a London theater, a labor of love that is almost complete. He has already published several short stories and a play with his twin brother.

Reynolds advises people to get tattoos with specific meaning to them.

“Don’t get a tattoo too small or in the wrong spot. And develop a theme [rather than get one on the spur of the moment],” he says. “Think out how you want your whole arm, leg or whatever before getting the first one to avoid screwing up a later idea.”

Each of Reynolds’ tattoos were created by an artist at Ink Rats in Irving.

“Bud has done all 17 of my tattoos. He is very quick, professional  and takes an active interest in my tattoos and myself as well. He’s a great guy,” Reynolds says. “I send everyone that asks about my tattoos to him.”

And plenty of people ask him about his ink on a daily basis, but he loves the attention.

“To me, the best thing that came out of me getting my tattoos is the random conversations that present themselves. I am a basically shy, quiet guy. — My partner is the outgoing, friendly kind of guy that everyone loves. I’m the guy standing behind him that rarely talks,” he admits. “But since getting my tattoos, more people are just coming up and talking to me. They love Agatha Christie or collect comics themselves. We just start discussing them and I slowly come out of my shell. They have actually made me more social, which was a bonus I didn’t expect.”

Wallflowers of the world might just be a needle and some ink away from an improved social life. And a few other perks, too.

“I’ve come to find out that most gay guys think tattoos are hot, which was a huge bonus,” he laughs. “Although straight people stop and comment more often. I’ve gotten free drinks, dinner and free tickets to The Avengers movie.”

Hmmm … under the right circumstances a Mercedes-Benz logo could be your ticket to a brand-new ride. Or at least a free beer.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 23, 2012.