A cartoon devil in an asbestos diaper, he made his first appearance in 1957 from the pen of Warren Kramer, and was destined to become a classic of American tattoo.

That familiar character in tattoo art of the little devil with his pitchfork called Hot Stuff first appeared in the cartoon of the same name ‘Hot Stuff #1’ way back in October 1957.

Ross Nagle, Allstar Ink Tattoo, Limerick, Ireland
Ross Nagle, Allstar Ink Tattoo, Limerick, Ireland

The character of the red devil in diapers with his sentient pitchfork was created by the cartoon artist Warren Kremer under a number of different aliases for the American publisher Harvey Comics. Names which, through thick and thin, continued to be used up until the early 90s, while Hot Stuff made his last appearance in 2009.

Hot Stuff was only one of the many successful characters created by Harvey Comics alongside Ritchie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey, Joe Palooka, Stumbo the Giant, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Spooky and Little Audrey.

Xam, Seven Doors Tattoo, London, UK
Xam, Seven Doors Tattoo, London, UK

Harvey Comics was founded in 1941 by Alfred Harvey and his two brothers, Robert and Leon, soon came on board. The New York publisher had the good fortune of working closely with the major Paramount Pictures which has produced many animated movies based on these series over the years. A movie treatment of Hot Stuff has never seen the light of day although, every now and again, someone does come up with an idea before it is shelved again.

Proph Bundy, Thunderbolt Tattoo, Atlanta, USA
Proph Bundy, Thunderbolt Tattoo, Atlanta, USA

The storyline in Hot Stuff is based on a baby devil who wears an asbestos diaper and talks to a sentient pitchfork he calls his “trusty trident”, a main character in the stories. His brothers are all evil devil, but Hot Stuff is basically good and generous. And the humour of the cartoon derives from the consternation of his siblings as the Little Devil performs a series of good deeds.

Hot Stuff deserves credit for freeing tattoo (and the subject of the devil) from the classic stylistic elements of European Traditional and Japanese. In terms of style, he is pure, unadulterated “Americana”. He can also be found dressed as a biker, soldier or sailor, and some imaginative tattooists have even gone so far as to produce a female version.

We have brought just some of them together in this gallery for you to enjoy!