Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1
By Alan Martin and Rufus Dayglo
I fell in a weird sort of love with the girl with the tank back when I first clapped eyes on her in the pages of Deadline. Manic little pottymouthed psychopath with a tank and big, big guns. Alan Martin’s demented writing and Jamie Hewlett’s insane artwork screamed youthful energy and manic excitement from every page. And I know I wasn’t alone, the strip was beloved by so many, so much so that even a piss poor movie adaptation couldn’t deflate our ardour one bit. But then it all stopped, and suddenly we had to face the prospect of our old age with but a couple of book collections.
Eventually various bits of Tank Girl started coming out again, only this time they had bits missing; namely either Martin or Hewlett (or sometimes both). This wasn’t Tank Girl in my eyes and I just skipped them, preferring to keep her pure in my memory.
(Tank Girl Skidmarks. Wacky Races with guns, tanks, more guns, swearing and far more violence. Just like you’d expect. From Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1 by Martin and Dayglo, published by Titan.)
And then along comes Skidmarks. This four issue Tank Girl series has been reprinted from the Megazine, only this time it’s been fully recoloured and more importantly it has a lot more of the sort of language that I expect from Tank Girl.
In Skidmarks, Tank Girl and her kangaroo not-boyfriend Booga find themselves in their own version of the Wacky Races, as they career across thousands of miles of desert in the Watermelon Race. The prize money will just about cover the ridiculously expensive operation to save the life of one of Tank Girl’s best mates. And that flimsiest of plots is all we need to launch into a fantastic Tank Girl adventure, full of everything I always loved about her.
(How Tank Girl is that? Big tank, explosions, mindless death and, in that second panel, Tank Girl looking super cool above it all. From Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1 by Martin and Dayglo, published by Titan.)
I freely admit that the only reason I read it was that it was included in a set of the original Martin/Hewlett Tank Girl books sent by Titan Books for possible review. Having a spare moment I picked it up, 5 minutes of reading in the bath I figured, see how much of a shadow of her former self she is now… that sort of thing.
Except it’s not like that at all. This reads like some of the later Deadline issues, and it even looks pretty much like I remembered as well. Alan Martin is still writing her like he always did, full of manic energy, dubious one-liners, lots of ultra-violence and only a passing interest in anything really resembling a storyline. But it was never a problem back then and it isn’t a problem now.
And Rufus Dayglo (not his real name I’m guessing) does a bloody impressive Jamie Hewlett impression all the way through, something I’m sure he’ll not thank me for if he reads this. But I do mean it in the most complimentary way. Tank Girl was always meant to look the way Hewlett drew her and Dayglo does it so well. But it’s not exactly Hewlett – and that’s a good thing. There’s almost a bit of Philip Bond in there as well – always nice to see. And that mix of styles brings us a slightly smoother, more clean line approach to Tank Girl. Not better than Hewlett, not worse. Just pleasingly different.
(Gorgeous Rufus Dayglo artwork from Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1. From Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1 by Martin and Dayglo, published by Titan.)
I was worried when looking at this that my girl with a tank might have lost some of the spunk that she once had. But Alan Martin’s writing like he never stopped and, in Rufus Dayglo, we have a perfect replacement for Hewlett’s visuals. Tank Girl: Skidmarks – it’s like she never went away.
Skidmarks is currently being serialised by Titan Books. The collection should be out in May 2010. But why wait, either pick up the comics or indulge yourselves with Grandma’s Christmas money and get yourself some of these Tank Girl goodies.