Inked Magazine was the first tattoo magazine for black skin. It had a short run of two issues, when Easy Riders Publications (later known as Paisano Publications) decided to stop the magazine for reasons unknown.
Don't get the 1999 Inked Magazine confused with the glitzy, glossy 2009 Inked -- they are two completely different beasts. Today's Inked is a progressive publication that pays homage to all of tattoo culture, unlike others in the industry.
Before this review goes any farther I would like to give special thanks to Sandra at Paisano Publications for sending me their last two copies of this groundbreaking magazine.
I remember buying Inked when it first hit the newsstands; boy, was I psyched. Finally a magazine about something I could relate to: black skin. I was even blown away by the cover. How did they get all that color into that black chick's skin, was the first thing on my mind.
In 1999, I had been collecting tattoo magazines for about 6 years and had just received my first tattoo from Pedro Baluga (who happened to be a guest editor for the premier issue). I was hungry for anything with information on tattooing black skin. The majority of magazines were a disappointment to me -- there was rarely a black person in any of them, and I just wanted to see an example of what was possible on my own complexion. I also just wanted a tattoo magazine to discuss something I could relate to: being a black kid from the inner city.
Inked gave me what I was looking for: reviews of black bands, articles on African body modification rituals, articles on black tattooists. But all good things must come to an end. When I asked the publishers why they stopped after only two issues, no one knew.
I can only guess that 1999 just was not the time for a magazine like this. Now there are so many more examples of black folks with extensive tattoo coverage. Then, less so. Then, I was looking at 2pac as being "tatted", now he would just be a dabbler.
Easy Riders Publications should be commended for even putting this magazine out at the time. It also published Tattoo, Tattoo Flash, Easy Rider, Biker, Savage, V-Twin and In the Wind, and considering most of these titles were geared largely towards biker readership, creating a mag about tattooed black skin was a progressive and gutsy move.