All Ink’d Up – Heath Ledger “Joker” Portrait


PoP! spotlights the fans who have permanently branded themselves as geeks.

Those of you who know me from the WUMB or have read my review of The Dark Knight know of the tribute portrait of Heath Ledger‘s “Joker” which I have tattooed on my left arm. For those not up-to-speed, I’d like to tell you the story of how this tattoo came to be.

I’ve been a fan of DC’s the Joker character since I was a chubby little-kid. One of the biggest movies of my childhood was Tim Burton’s Batman, starring Jack Nicholson as Clown Prince of Crime. That same year for my Halloween costume, my mom stitched together an elaborate rendition of the film’s “Art Gallery” Joker getup. I also have a respectable collection of Joker memorabilia including an autographed picture of Nicholson from the Burton film.

Suffice it to say, I had a cream-dream-supreme at the conclusion of Batman Begins when Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon flashed the Joker card, and I couldn’t wait for the follow up to the extraordinary Batman franchise reboot. When I learned of Heath Ledger‘s casting as the preeminent Batman rogue for the next Nolan-verse film, I was more than intrigued, and after the first promo image was released of Ledger as the scarred villain, I was immediately sold. Following shooting, Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment on January 22, 2008, and soon thereafter, I began to plan a Ledger/Joker tattoo, but I refrained from permanently honoring the man and his portrayal until first seeing and approving of the film.

I truly loved Ledger‘s performance as the Joker, and I had been floating around tattoo designs since the premiere of the flick. However, it wasn’t until I learned that announcement of the Academy Award Nominations (for which Ledger was a lock) would fall on the same day as the one-year anniversary of Ledger’s untimely passing that a fire was lit underneath me to have a design ready to go by January 22.

My design was thus: The head of one of the few promo images of Ledger‘s Joker posterized in Photoshop to give it that “comic book” feel, with the word “Chaos,” the Joker’s mantra, scrawled, Joker-style, incorporating the symbol for “Anarchy,” another of the Joker‘s favorite themes, along the right side of the face.


I brought the design to my tattoo artist, Brent Williams, owner of Mr. Williams Tattoo Co., the same establishment where I received my first tattoo, inspired by Eagles of Death Metals’ “Peace, Love, and Death Metal” album cover. Brent was excited at the opportunity to do the piece, which would have been his first Ledger Joker, and his first color portrait. We scheduled for January 22.


I arrived for my appointment, and Mr. Williams presented me with a new spin on my previous design, instead using the image of the Joker following his Interrogation Room beatdown at the hands of Batman, and moving the word “Chaos” from alongside the face to across the top of the head.

I trusted Brent’s professional opinion, and his enthusiasm for the piece. Over the course of four hours, I learned a new definition of pain, and I refrained from checking out the work-in-progress until Brent gave me the all-clear. The final product was incredible, however, the hair, instead of green, was black and grey. I rationalized that the man had been working for four hours straight, he gave me a hell of a deal, and I was sore as hell, so I had no problem calling it a day.


The response to my tattoo via MySpace, Facebook and the WUMB was overwhelmingly positive, but the recurring sentiment was that the hair needed some green coloring to it.  On Thursday, March 12, 2009, I returned to Mr. Williams to have the green highlights added to this already spectacular piece. Here is the final result.


Mr. Williams didn’t charge me a dime for the touch-up, either.

Please visit Mr. Williams Tattoo Co via their Official Website and their Myspace page.

So, ladies and gentlemen, that is the story of my sole “geek” tattoo. What about you? Do you have a Comic, Cartoon or Sci-Fi tattoo that you think would make an interesting feature for “All Inked Up”? If so, send your suggestions to, visit us at the PoP! Forums or comment on this very article.

Until next time…



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Who ARE these people!?

Jason Knize, K-Nice if you're nasty, is a co-founder of, resident News Editor, and one-half of the World Tag Team Champions, The 11th Hour. You can usually find him in the most wretched hive of scum and villainy...The PoP!ulation Forums.


Comments (5)

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  1. FroZen says:


  2. Tamara says:

    That’s some ink to be proud of, man… Nice job!

  3. TENIME_art says:

    The green looks great!!

    As for more “geek tats”, you’ve got my contact info… ~_^

  4. Thundermatts says:

    This is the first time I saw the green hair. it really makes the tatt! Super awesome! Keep in mind I have a Harry Potter tattoo lol

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