Ed Slocum, voted 2015’s “Best Tattoo Artist” by a poll of Tucson Weekly readers, has illustrated a charming children’s fable focused on a pack rat, one of the Sonoran Desert’s most notorious residents. Slocum’s black and white illustrations mirror one of his favorite styles of tattooing, a black and grey style almost like charcoal drawings or pen and ink. The book’s illustrations were created digitally on an iPad in between tattoo sessions that make up a very busy schedule of customers who book Slocum sometimes months ahead of time. The illustrations are dark, and reminiscent of children’s stories from decades ago. Not many tattoo artists have illustrated children’s books, but Ed’s talents made him a perfect fit for the job.
“I told my mom about it, and she was very excited to hear I had done this. ‘You’re finally doing what you should be doing!’” Slocum laughed, “Though I’ve been tattooing for 20 years.”
Alanna Roethle (Ray-thlee), local writer, found the right illustrator for her story, which is geared toward younger listeners and children with a third-to-fourth grade reading level, when she was tattooed by Ed last year. Their collaboration resulted in a book that teaches children about the desert and the plants and animals we see in Tucson, as well as a little more about Neotoma devia, the species of pack rat found only here and in far western Arizona and northwestern Sonora, Mexico.
“I first wrote a story with this title when I was about 8 years old,” Roethle said. “I recently re-wrote it as an adult but kept the title. It is still perfect for the story.”
The book is available in paperback from Amazon, and will be available in hardcover soon. Copies will be sold around Tucson (including Mostly Books on Speedway Ave.) and purchasers can visit Ed at his shop, Tattoo Artistry, if they’d like their copy autographed by the artist.
Distributed by PREngine
Company Name: The Rat Who Didn’t Know He Was King
Contact Person: Alanna Roethle
Country: United States