David Arquette Got A Tattoo Of Wonder Woman From Sensation Comics #81

While recently on Bethenny Frankel’s talk show Bethenny (SIDENOTE: I have NO idea who this is or why she has a talk show), David Arquette revealed that he got a new tattoo on his torso.  It’s impressively large, going from just above his waistband to halfway up his ribcage, and it depicts a panel from Sensation Comics #81, published in September 1948.  Here’s the tattoo:

And here is the panel:

The tattoo is on the right side of his body (his right, not our right) so it makes sense that they’d flip the art so as Wonder Woman would be looking towards the center of his chest.  That’s just Tattooing 101, really.  They couldn’t put it on the other side of his torso because he already had tattoos there.  So yeah, it’s a big tattoo, and a random panel to reference!!

The panel is from a story called “When Treachery Wore a Green Shirt”, where Wonder Woman breaks up an anti-immigrant organization in a small town that was about to lynch an immigrant named George Zenko and his employer.  Zenko sounds like a fairly Eastern European name, though his country of origin isn’t specified.  The Green Shirts are all up in arms that a “foreigner” got a job instead of an American, so they’re fixing to hang the two men when Wonder Woman comes by and busts them up.  Then she gives the lovely speech about being friendly to all that Arquette tattooed on his torso.

It’s worth pointing out that this story is SUPER white.  The message of tolerance thus comes across as a “white people should be nice to white people” speech.  There’s no mention of America’s massive racial problems at the time, be it the segregation of African Americans or the resentment towards Asians that lingered after the war.  Instead, we learn to be nice to people that look like us.  Of course, this is a very 21st century reading of it… for 1948, the speech was a reasonably progressive message.

The Grand Comics Database credits H.G. Peter with the writing for this issue.  Clearly it’s his art, but I don’t recall Peter ever writing anything.  Marston had died about a year before this issue came out, so I doubt he wrote it either (the story says “by Charles Moulton”, but they ALL did until the mid-1960s).  It was more likely Robert Kanigher, who was the regular writer on Wonder Woman and most of Sensation Comics at the time, or maybe Sheldon Mayer, the book’s editor.

The story usually gets credited to Marston, however, because the story was reprinted in the 1972 collection of Wonder Woman stories published by Ms. Magazine with introductions by Gloria Steinem.  All of the stories in the book are credited to Marston, though a couple of them are from late in the 1940s and his authorship is unlikely.  Also, a few of them seem to have actually been written by Joye Murchison, Marston’s assistant.  I bet Steinem would have loved to know that when she put the book together!!

I don’t know where David Arquette first encountered this panel, but I’m betting it was this book.  It’s that, or he’s got an EXTENSIVE Golden Age Wonder Woman collection.  This story has yet to be collected in an any of DC’s reprint series (Archives, Chronicles, Showcase, etc.) and the Ms. book is fairly well known. 

So good work getting a classy tattoo, David Arquette!!  I’m a little concerned for the guy, what with his divorce and lack of much of a career lately.  Getting a random, MASSIVE tattoo can sometimes be a step in a downward spiral (particularly if it’s of a strong, brunette woman and you just got divorced from a strong, brunette woman…), but hopefully he’s just really into Wonder Woman and things are going well for him.  Either way, it’s a cool tattoo!!

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

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