Tank Girl Carioca
Issue 1 (of 3) Titan Publishing
So, finally, after waiting for what seemed two millenia, we have it – the Second Coming. Once again, he is with us ! He hath been returned to his Disciples to show us the Way. I am, of course, referring to the Comic God that is Mr Mick McMahon, who has returned from the wilderness to draw Tank Girl, the crass and quirky alternative comic book Anti-Heroine created by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett, for a three part (well, sort-of) story entitled Carioca. More about Mr McM later. After all, we’ve been waiting what seems like forever for his return; a paragraph more won’t make much difference. Onto the story.
Tank Girl and her Kangaroo Boyfriend Booga are contestants on Tankie’s favourite TV Show, QuizBingo, but are cheated out of winning the star prize by nauseous host Charlie Happy. Angry and Humiliated, Tank Girl vows revenge on Happy and enlists the assistance of Team Tank Girl.
Well, there’s the plot, nice and simple. You certainly don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work Alan Martin’s script out so far. Though initially I considered the almost retarded simplicity of the writing irritating, it grew on me slightly after a second reading.After all, it made a change from the utterly annoying drivel that passes for sophisticated comic book reading these days.And let’s be honest, this is a Tank Girl comic, so if I’m expecting something akin to a Paul Auster novel, I’m a bigger berk than I usually think I am. The more I accepted the sheer banal, pointless idiocy of the story, the more I was willing to enjoy it, though it did leave me a bit like Tank Girl near the end of this issue-feeling somewhat empty. Actually, that little sequence was the best bit of the book, story -wise; a neat little Johnny Cash-like Revealation moment, which nicely balanced out the utterly gratuitous violence beforehand, and gave it a certain humanity due to Tank Girl’s remorse. The opening Quiz Show pages were quite funny, and I liked the character Andy Answers. What was suprising here was a lack of the pop-culture references usually scattered through Tank Girl strips, which I always found enjoyable ( though there’s a nice joke on R.E.M. song titles early on , and how can you dislike anyone who remembers the Casey Jones theme tune), but maybe they’ll pop up in the next two issues.
Or rather, four parts. This was due to be a six issue series, but then it seems Titan changed their mind, and now it’s three books. It’s blatantly evident in Book One, where two pages of Titan ads are sandwiched in the middle, between the two parts, or original two issues. It would’ve been nice to have some bridging double page spread or chapter headers here, rather than the Ads, as it simply makes it look like Titan simply threw the thing together as an afterthought, in it’s present format. A minor gripe, but it smacks of a crass and lazy attitude to overall design of the book, which is a shame, because we’re discussing the eagerly anticipated return of a comic art genius here, someone whose work has had an enormous influence on a whole generation of comic book readers and artists. Time to discuss Mick McMahon’s contribution to Carioca.
I’ve an appaling admission to make. I bought this book solely because Mick McMahon was drawing it, fanboy that I am ! It’s been an awfully long wait for any new artwork from him, so I wondered just what we were going to get, and was it going to live up to expectations. What I’ve always loved about McMahon’s art is it has never stayed still, it’s constantly evolved and developed, yet always remained utterly, obviously, well, um, McMahon. I’m pleased to report he’s still as brilliant as ever, and any aspiring artists out there would do well to go and look at these pages. McMahon’s work is always stylistically quirky and unique, yet for me, what’s impressive about his work here is what seems an evident simplicity, and a clarity. Here are pages that are stripped down and clean visually, there’s no clutter or fuss here, everything he’s drawn is there for a purpose, to tell the story, and push it forward. It’s an evolution that started with his work on the Judge Dredd story The Howler, via Sonic the Comic, and then Tattered Banners, a seeming paring down of line and form, enhanced in Carioca by a lovely use of colour. It’s just a joy to have him back drawing comics, and it’s wonderful to think there’s another 88 pages of brilliance to come on this series. What more could one want ? Uh, a 20 part Judge Dredd story written by John Wagner for him to draw perhaps ? Too much to ask? Too long to wait maybe ! For now, I’ll be singing along with Carioca.