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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Tank Girl


Author: Alan Martin
Artist: Rufus Dayglo
Titan Books
RRP: £10.99, US $16.95, Can $19.95
ISBN: 978 1 84856 681 1
Available 30 July 2010

Tank Girl: armour-plated sex kitten with a mouth as filthy as her bouncing boyfriend Booga’s underwear. Now she’s turned angel of mercy... When her old friend Barney takes a spill, the medical costs alone justify health reform, but in the Australian Outback there’s only the Watermelon Run - a once-every-20-years, no-weapons-barred, haul-arse wacky race across endless desert and tortuous mountain passes. But when has anything like that ever stopped our beloved heroine? Suck on the nitro, kick the tyres, light the farts and, at the drop of the chequered flag, come out blasting...!

Tank Girl: Skidmarks began its life in 2008 as a ten-part series in Judge Dredd Megazine. A year later it was reissued as a four-issue American comic, recoloured by Christian Krank, together with a couple of black-and-white bonus strips, “Tank Girl Land” and “I Am So Far Above You Now”. Now all three stories have been collected into graphic novel form, complete with foul language that was considered too strong for the Megazine.

The story is as barmy as ever, featuring a wacky race that is clearly inspired by The Cannonball Run. There’s even a womanising bloke with a ’tache called Burt. Other familiar faces from fiction and real life include Dee Dee Ramone, the A-Team (the TV version, natch) and a sports correspondent who looks remarkably like... (can you tell who it is yet...?) Rolf Harris. Writer Alan Martin also adds a soupcon of Star Wars for good measure, in the form of an incomprehensible, subtitled bounty hunter known as Downy Macaw.

Meanwhile, Rufus Dayglo fulfils the art chores very well indeed. His work bears a distinct resemblance to that of his illustrious predecessor Jamie Hewlett (the monkey-like mouths, the devious eyes, the flailing arms, etc) without ever descending into churning out mere carbon copies.

The creative team add a new character to the Tank Girl universe, in the form of the competitive but accident-prone Barney, whose head injury is the reason why Tank Girl takes part in the Watermelon Run and whose bowel problems lead to disaster in “I Am So Far Above You Now”. The main story includes a couple of flashbacks to the girls’ earlier days at school and during an ill-fated bank robbery. Jet Girl also plays substantial roles in Skidmarks and “I Am So Far Above You Now”.

One downside of reading all ten nine-page chapters of Skidmarks in one sitting is that reminders given about Tank Girl’s motivation for entering the race do get somewhat repetitive. Also, some of the details from the centres of double-page spreads, in particular the game board that appears near the end of the book, are lost in the binding process.

Aside from those quibbles, however, there’s every reason for Tank Girl fans to race to the bookshops now!


Richard McGinlay

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