Book Review – Everybody Loves Tank Girl

everyoneloves_jpg_size-230This might be the most difficult review I’ve written to date.  It’s not because the material is bad, but it’s because periodically I like to challenge myself with something so far beyond my normal wheelhouse that it might as well be alien to me.  That’s one of the ways I expand my horizons.  In a lot of ways, it’s much like trying to explain punk music: you either already know what to expect - in which case you either like it or you don’t - or it’s so far outside your sensibilities that it’s impossible to discuss until you have a common frame of reference.  Admittedly I’m cheating a bit here, as this is not my first dip into the world of Tank Girl.  But it’s been a while (perhaps too long?), so I couldn’t pass it by when Titan Books offered it up for review.  Special thanks to them for being my drug dealer of choice these days… trust me, that’s an apt description when it comes to Tank Girl.

From the publisher’s website:

Everyone’s favorite outback anarchist is back to blow things up, swear profusely and offend the elderly! Alan C. Martin teams up with wunderkind Jim Mahfood to bring you Tank Girl as you’ve never seen her: wild, raw, foul-mouthed and forever rockin’ but rendered in a style that will bring pleasure to thine eyes. Meet The Wee Wee Brothers, travel south to a Hippie Fest with all the gang, take a tour around Booga’s factory, and let Tank Girl show you How To Dress Quite Good.

A little perspective is needed in order to understand how I approach something like this for review.  Back in the day, before the DC and Marvel set fire to everything that made them worth reading, I was well-immersed in comics and bought far more than I could reasonably afford.  My heroes and the titles they haunt tend to be traditionally classic in every sense of the word: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America… you get the idea.  If I need something with more bite, I default to the older pulp characters like The Shadow or The Phantom or the ever-trusty Star Wars titles from Dark Horse.  But every so often the need is there to break the cycle completely and irrevocably, and comics are nothing if not an incredibly versatile showcase for the truly bizarre and off-the-wall.  When I crave something like this, my go-to titles were usually The Tick or Too Much Coffee Man.  Tank Girl found her way into the reading list on occassion because she fit the bill perfectly when I had no clue what it is I was in the mood for.

Not familiar with Tank Girl?  Here’s the basic.  Her tank doubles as her mobile home, she lives with her boyfriend Booga (a mutant kangaroo of sorts), and she is born from the punk rock sensibility that says that James Dean wasn’t even remotely rebellious enough.  Anything and everything is fair game when it comes to equal opportunity insults, general disrespect, and property damage.  Swearing?  There used to be an art form to this, and most people don’t know how to do it anymore.  I know I learned a few new phrases here, and that’s saying something considering some of the people I know.  You have to be there…  Anyway, for me it’s almost a therapeutic reset button to visit her world because everything looks really normal again by comparison.  It’s so liberating on a number of levels that I can only imagine that her stories must be a blast to write.  But much like any kind of spice, too much is overkill, and Tank Girl can rot your brain.  No, really – I’ve seen it happen!

Published originally as a 3-part series in 2012, Everybody Loves Tank Girl is the hardcover trade edition collecting the issues.  There is no story here whatsoever.  Don’t bother trying to look for it.  It’s more like scene vignettes than anything else, so it’s a bit jarring to read on that front.  I hesitate to say sketch comedy due to the bad pun inherent in the system, but it really is a lot like that.  Then you add in the art, which is erratic in its drawing style and switches back and forth between color and black-and-white… it’s the perfect Pink Floyd-inspired acid trip to compliment the characters and the writing style.  Fair warning: this book is not for the prudish or faint of heart, nor is it best for a first-time trip through this world.  But if you’re looking for something that generally slaps everything in the face for no other reason than to be slap-happy, this is the book for you.  If you’re not immediately offended, you’ll probably find yourself loving this book more than you really should.  That’s part of Tank Girl’s irreverent charm. 

Everybody Loves Tank Girl is available now from Titan Books.