Review by Jamie McNeil
An omnibus collection of any title can be hit or miss and one worth having often depends on the quality of the extra material included. Dirty Old Tank Girl compiles the two paperbacks Carioca and Skidmarks into one. It’s good value as Carioca is hard to find on its own, and this has some fun surprises thrown in to boot.
While Tank Girl was created by Alan C. Martin, writing all the material here, and artist Jamie Hewlett it is thanks to Rufus Dayglo that the series was revived. Having previously worked with Hewlett as illustrator for virtual band Gorrillaz, he later offered Martin his services to create new stories and has become without doubt the other quintessential Tank Girl artist. Dayglo illustrates the majority of the work starting with Skidmarks, a violent funny send up of films and shows like The Cannonball Run, Deathrace 2000 and Wacky Races. Rock icon Dee Dee Ramone guest stars and Martin celebrates the anarchic spirit of punk rock throughout. There’s a mad cap glee to the heavily armoured vehicles crowding the road and cartoon slapstick violence, whether a single panel or covering two pages. The best of both Martin and Dayglo lies in the two shorter black and white stories tucked away at the end. ‘Welcome to Tank Girl Land’ is a funny send up of merchandising though ‘I Am So Far Above You Now’, basically TG in Space, is hilarious and phenomenally well drawn.
Carioca by contrast is both a love letter to misspent youth and a railing against abusive authority, arguably Martin’s most personal TG project to date. When Tank Girl falls foul of TV host Charlie Happy she swears revenge. That inevitably leads to a cycle of violence, enlightenment and more violence. Mick McMahon is guest artist and uses a very different style to his usual comics work. His colourful palette and surreal art heightens the new age concepts Carioca satirises while adding a dreamscape quality.
There are a few little fun commentaries interspersed between the main bodies of work, informative and entertaining though Tank Girl is a Marmite kind of series you’ll either love or hate. The advantage of this omnibus is that you have slightly more than a 50/50 chance of liking something. Definitely get this for the short stories which you won’t find elsewhere. Dirty Old Tank Girl collects material that is fun, innovative, inventive, odd, confusing, disturbing, gross, hilarious, thoughtful, offensive and weird but never ever guilty of conformity.