If Lee Weir ever met Homer Simpson at Moe’s Tavern for a beer, he would probably raise a glass to him. After all, the Kiwi does have 41 tattoos of his favourite animated character covering his arm, a feat that’s put him in the Guinness World Records!
“I think he’d be flattered, but he wouldn’t know how to process it,” Lee says.
“I don’t think Homer would understand why someone would do that, but he’d have a laugh. He would say, ‘Hey, that’s me’, then dismiss it and buy me a beer!”
Ironically, Lee (27) had to stop drinking beer in order to gather the funds to afford his sleeve tattoo.
The Auckland father-of-one, who is studying to become a drama teacher, had images of his favourite cartoon The Simpsons etched on his arm over the course of 12 months.
“The theme of my sleeve is ‘Homer when he was not Homer’ and features him throughout the TV series dressed up and doing different things,” explains Lee.
“There’s Homer when he put on a lot of weight, wore a muu-muu and turned into the Incredible Hulk. Every tattoo I have is from an episode of The Simpsons.”
With the full support of his wife, kindergarten teacher Nikita (26), Lee began his homage in 2012.
“I gave up alcohol for a year to raise extra money to get my sleeve tattoo. The Simpsons is my favourite TV show and is now in its 26th season. For me, it’s an infatuation and a borderline obsession as well!” he laughs.
But the father of Lucy (2) says, “None of my kids will be named after Simpsons characters, I have no desire to do anything radical like that.”
Lee, who started watching The Simpsons in his early teenage years, got his first Homer tattoo when he was 20, while studying radio at Christchurch’s New Zealand Broadcasting School.
“It was the beginning of a full tribute to The Simpsons,” he says.
But Nikita, his sweetheart from the age of 14, wasn’t alarmed in the least by the idea.
“I was excited for him. I love tattoos and I’m a big fan of Lee, so I think they are fabulous,” says Nikita. “I know my husband very well. He’s a wild man who often comes home with a new tattoo and surprises me.”
A Simpsons fan herself, with her own inkings, Nikita reveals she has no tattoos of Homer. But she hasn’t ruled out the possibility.
“I would love more tattoos,” she admits. “I’m not sure how Homer would look on me, but never say never!”
Nikita confesses while she doesn’t find cartoon characters sexy, exactly, the colourful creations don’t change the way she views her husband.
“The support she gives me is huge,” reveals Lee. “She even gave me a bit of extra pocket money each week to help me get the sleeve completed quicker.
“To let me get a cartoon character tattooed on me speaks volumes of the love she has for me!”
That love and affection is mutual, maintains Nikita. “I would love him if he was covered in tattoos – and I would love him if he had none.”
While the West Auckland couple have yet to let Lucy watch The Simpsons, they say they will when she’s old enough.
Lee, who gets plenty of attention when he’s in public, often from other people’s children, says his tattoos bring much happiness.
“How could you not like Homer Simpson or smile at something like this?” he asks, pointing to his arm. “People are always pleasant and some people say it’s the coolest thing they have ever seen.
“I did this purely for fun. My tattoo artist suggested because I already had a Homer tattoo on my arm, we could stack my arm with Homers and have them popping out behind other Homers.”
After 25 hours of creative work by tattoo artist Ben Jenkins, costing a discounted “mate’s rate” of $2500, the sleeve was complete.
Lee decided he needed to approach the Guinness World Records, hoping to achieve the record for the “most cartoon characters tattooed on a body”.
Initially discouraged by Guinness World Records’ head office, who ruled his category idea “too niche”, Lee persisted. His patience and tenacity paid off and a new category was created enabling Lee to be the first person in the world to set the record.
It’s a dream come true for Lee, whose next wish is to meet the creator of The Simpsons.
“The attention I am getting around the world is hopefully going to place me on creator Matt Groening’s radar. My main goal is to ask him for the biggest favour ever – I would really love him to draw me as a Simpsons character and sketch me a one-off Homer Simpson that I can get tattooed on my arm.”
Storylines and characters have changed since The Simpsons first arrived on our screens in 1989, but Lee says they’ve only grown stronger. His sleeve is testimony to that and stands out from his 14 other tattoos, which are not unrelated to The Simpsons.
As Lee contemplates a future of working as a teacher, he knows he may have to cover his arm in long-sleeved shirts, but he does not see it hindering prospective job opportunities.
”I am extremely impulsive. If something is a good idea, it’s a good idea,” he says.
“I’d never get a neck or face tattoo, or anything like that. I don’t think it’s as much of a barrier for employment as people think it could be. My tattoos are special and I have no regrets.”