Review by Jamie McNeil
When Tank Girl’s and Booga’s pal Barney is severely injured in a skateboarding accident, they enter the dangerous and not to mention illegal Watermelon Run to raise funds for her expensive surgery. It starts well but this is a race with no rules and thousands of miles of post apocalyptic Australian outback to cover, plus more than a few psychos thrown in.
Skidmarks is a pastiche of films like The Canonball Run and Death Race 2000, the actors who starred in those films, and counterculture like skateboarding. It also guest stars none other than Dee Dee Ramone! If you have never heard of/watched any of those films nor have a clue who Dee Dee is, this is not the graphic novel you are looking for. However, should you like your stories potty mouthed, uber violent and irreverently snarky (typical Tank Girl) then read away!
Writer/creator Alan C. Martin’s plot is similar to the elements that inspire it, being bonkers fun held together by a loose plot around the reasons for Tank Girl et al being in the race, but focused mainly on the mental mayhem of the racing. It’s driven by puerile gags and double entendres while happily taking the piss out of everything from The A-Team to Burt Reynolds. Rufus Dayglo’s art is perfect for this, delighting in crowding the road with epic vehicles and cartoon slapstick that results from every bugger trying to kill the other. Think the cartoon style employed for Wacky Races, though Dayglo is versatile and swaps as needed. One flashback sequence is reminiscent of the anarchic punch-ups featured in classic Beano strips, while another is rendered in hues of black and yellow.
Yes, Skidmarks does run a little too long for the brand of comedy Martin employs, though has a clever and surprising conclusion. No, it is not to be taken seriously, an odd mix of confusing, funny, weird, gross and the oddly liberating. Martin himself describes three ways to grade this: Complete shite, partial shite or “I liked it but I didn’t like it. It was good but it was shit. I am enlightened but confused.” We’ve gone with option three.
Skidmarks is also collected with Carioca plus a few extras in the Dirty Old Tank Girl omnibus.