by Alan Martin and Rufus Dayglo
Like I’ve said before when looking at the remastered first 3 volumes of Tank Girl (here); I loved the girl with a tank with the passion only a teenager can really muster. Since then I can only look back nostalgically, wistfully, through rose coloured specs like you do with an ex-girlfriend, albeit one with a really potty mouth and big, big guns.
Which meant that any new Tank Girl stuff was going to be a tough sell. Luckily having already read issue 1 of Skidmarks when it came out (review right here) I knew that Tank Girl was in good hands:
“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 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 …. a slightly smoother, more clean line approach to Tank Girl. Not better than Hewlett, not worse. Just pleasingly different.”
So does it still work in this collection, with the full story and a couple of extra strips? Pretty much, yes it does.
The big problem comes with trying to fit Tank Girl into any sort of extended narrative thing, since she was always best when just flying off the page in 5 page bursts of manic energy. But Martin has rather sidestepped that by creating a story that isn’t really a story at all – just an excuse to get some sort of Tank Girl meets Wacky Races/Cannonball Run thing going on.
(Any Tank Girl story that starts with the immortal words “C’mon Booga, you great twat” is okay with me. The opening page to Tank Girl – Skidmarks by Dayglo and Martin, published by Titan Books)
So it works something like this – Tank Girl’s best mate Barney gets herself badly messed up doing some impossible skateboarding and needs $20 million worth of brain surgery. Luckily for all concerned the Watermelon Race – a highly illegal cross Australia race attracting all manner of homicidal petrolhead – just so happens to have a prize of exactly that $20 million. That’s the story. I think I took more time to explain it than Martin and Dayglo do – the entire thing takes just 7 panels to set up.
And then we’re off, with every bit the stupid ultraviolence, knicker obsessed dialogue and whacked out situations we’ve all missed so much. But filling 4 issues with the whole Wacky Races thing does occasionally get a little tired and it’s just about saved from going off the rails by Martin throwing in as many flashbacks and different takes on things as he can – including Tank Girl’s school days and Barney & Tank Girl’s bank job. And it all ends suitably stupidly, just like a Tank Girl story should.
(Dayglo draws Tank Girl’s schooldays. I see lots of Steve Parkhouse in here, which is never a bad thing. From Tank Girl – Skidmarks, by Dayglo and Martin, published by Titan Books)
Throughout it all Dayglo’s art really does everything you want it to. Like I said before, there’s Hewlett aplenty in the artwork, but Philip Bond’s there, Glyn Dillon as well, likewise a bit of Parkhouse and even some generic Hanna Barbera like stuff.
(Rufus Dayglo’s mix of different styles, all coming together to give us a great Tank Girl. From Tank Girl – Skidmarks, by Dayglo and Martin, published by Titan Books)
Anyway, like I said before when reviewing issue 1; it’s still Tank Girl:
“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.”
The names on the spine might be Dayglo & Martin, not Hewlett & Martin, but the essence is there, all the energy, all the shouty, sweary, ultraviolence. It’s still Tank Girl and it’s still bloody great fun and Dayglo does draw a gorgeous Tank Girl……
Right, loads of Tank Girl stuff in the FPI store for you here. And the next collection The Royal Escape is out in September. Meanwhile there’s the Tank Girl website and loads of great art on Dayglo’s blog to look over.