SNAKE PIT: TATTOO STORIES: $2, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, 32 pgs.

Jun 13, 2014

As you can guess from the title, this is a collection of stories about Ben Snakepit’s tattoos. And there it is, a photo of his naked body right there on the cover, flashing some ink as a preview of what is inside. But his naked junk is covered up by a big black box with white text that reads WARNING: CONTAINS NO COMICS. No doubt Ben felt he had to give fair warning to people who might buy the zine thinking they were getting a collection of his comics. He was probably worried they’d be disappointed. In fact, in his introduction, Ben says that if you don’t like this zine, just bring it over to his house and he’ll give you your money back. But I’m pretty sure you won’t want your money back. Inside there are photos of forty-five of Ben’s tattoos, with stories that accompany them. The tattoos range from pretty horrible stick-n-poke jobs to elaborate pieces of art. Some of the tattoos are band logos (Hickey, F.Y.P, Dead Milkmen), some are questionable puns (Gallagher Playing Galaga), some are drunken mistakes (“Ke Pit”), and of course one Razorcake. Admittedly, the quality of some of the photos isn’t that great, but this is a zine, not a coffee table art book. And, really, the photos are of secondary importance. The stories are what make this collection such a treasure. Maybe I’m the only one who reads and re-reads the introductions to Ben’s Snakepit collections as much as the comics themselves. I really like the way he writes. He has a certain “voice” that I find totally real and engaging. I’ve never met the guy, but I’m pretty sure he talks just like he writes. At least I hope so. I’ve heard a few people complain that Ben’s daily comics are too simplistic, that there is not enough of a storyline. Such people are fools. Ben’s daily comics are packed with stories, but told in a deceptively simple way. Same thing with these tattoo stories. Some of the stories are just a few sentences long, some are a couple pages. They each tell the story about the specific tattoo, but together they tell a much larger, more complicated story about Ben, the people around him, and worlds that we all inhabit. I won’t bury you with examples, except for this one: in less than ten lines, Ben explains the story behind the pill bottle tattoo he got in honor of the girlfriend who would become his first wife. Those ten sentences make up one of the greatest short stories I’ve ever read. No shit. Grab a copy of this while you can. I don’t think there are going to be too many people swinging by Ben’s house to return their copies. –Kevin Dunn (Ben Snakepit, PO Box 49447, ATX 78765)