Thanks to Rachel Talalay’s 1995 film I’m familiar enough with the character of Tank Girl, but until Bad Wind Rising, the latest collected miniseries from Titan Books, I’d never really experienced her comics. Going into this series relatively blind is a pretty interesting experience. You’ll need to check your expectations of traditional narrative structure at the cover, and your sense of decency too. Fortunately, those are two things that don’t really hinder me, so I was more or less prepared for the weird world constructed by Alan Martin and Rufus Dayglo.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the events in Bad Wind Rising: after a pretty intense job, Tank Girl and her crew decide to take holiday on an Australian beach. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond their control, our heroine and her hubby mutant kangaroo Booga end up getting drawn into an awful domestic struggle that splits their group in two. While Booga’s buddies get caught up with a whole gang of mutant marsupials in the desert, Tank Girl winds up in a plot to invent and control the first time-travel machine.
None of that is exaggeration, and if it seem like the dots don’t totally connect, well, who cares? Martin’s story moves gleefully from A to B to C without much self-reflection, which is kind of refreshing when so many mainstream comics try to be ultra-serious. There’s a real British punk rock spirit to the way this book barrels through its script, not unlike listening to the Ramones plow through a pop song in a minute thirty. There’s also a tremendous sense of humor here; I laughed out loud at the caption that promises “at least one character in each episode of this story will be shot in the bollocks.” Additionally, the end of the book introduces some actually pretty interesting (to me) thoughts about the possibility of time travel. I will admit that the ultimate conclusion it finds kind of went over my head, though I think that may be the point.
Though I enjoyed the story, what I liked most about this volume was Dayglo’s art. In keeping with Tank Girl‘s punk feel, many of these panels seem to have jumped right off of a gig poster. Characters always strike dynamic poses, and action sequences are super-chaotic. Adding to that feel is the coloring of Sofie Dodgson, which takes the surprising tactic of being mostly monochromatic except to accentuate key elements in a scene (blood, explosions, dog shit). The choice to do monochrome here seems to be motivated not by economic factors but artistic ones, and it’s one of the coolest uses of a limited color palette I can think of in monthly comics.
Tank Girl‘s surely a book that’s not for everyone. I can imagine many readers being easily offended at the coarse language, graphic violence and tendency towards bare breasts. On the other hand, I think there’s an audience out there who will just eat this up. I have a friend who was raised in England and loves action heroes, rock and roll, boobs and twisted jokes. I’m going to give him this book, and I think he’s going to cherish it. Do not tread into Tank Girl lightly, but if what I’m talking about sounds like your bag, why not try out a volume?
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more