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Tank Girl is a British comic created by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin. Originally drawn by Jamie Hewlett, it has also been drawn by Philip Bond, Glyn Dillon, Ashley Wood, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Jim Mahfood, Brett Parson. Jonathan Edwards, Craig Knowles, Rufus Dayglo, Andy Pritchett, and Mike McMahon.
The eponymous character Tank Girl (Rebecca Buck) drives a tank, which is also her home. She undertakes a series of missions for a nebulous organization before making a serious mistake and being declared an outlaw for her sexual inclinations and her substance abuse. The comic centres on her misadventures with her boyfriend, Booga, a mutant kangaroo. The comic's style was heavily influenced by punk visual art, and strips were frequently deeply disorganized, anarchic, absurdist, and psychedelic. The strip features various elements with origins in surrealist techniques, fanzines, collage, cut-up technique, stream of consciousness, and metafiction, with very little regard or interest for conventional plot or committed narrative.
Martin and Hewlett first met in the mid-1980s in Worthing, when Martin was in a band with Philip Bond called the University Smalls. One of their tracks was a song called "Rocket Girl". They had started adding the suffix 'girl' to everything habitually after the release of the Supergirl movie, but "Rocket Girl" was a student at college who Bond had a crush on and apparently bore a striking resemblance to a Love and Rockets character. They began collaborating on a comic/fanzine called Atomtan, and while working on this, Jamie had drawn
|“||a grotty looking beefer of a girl brandishing an unfeasible firearm. One of our friends was working on a project to design a pair of headphones and was basing his design on the type used by World War II tank driver. His studio in Worthing was littered with loads of photocopies of combat vehicles. Alan pinched one of the images and gave it to Jamie who then stuck it behind his grotty girl illustrations and then added a logo which read 'Tank Girl'.||”|
The image was published in the fanzine as a one-page ad (with a caption that read: "SHE'LL BREAK YOUR BACK AND YOUR BALLS!"), but the Tank Girl series first appeared in the debut issue of Deadline (1988), a UK magazine intended as a forum for new comic talent and it continued until the end of the magazine in 1995.
Tank Girl became quite popular in the politicized indie counterculture zeitgeist as a cartoon mirror of the growing empowerment of women in punk rock culture. Posters and T-shirts began springing up everywhere, including one especially made for the Clause 28 march against Margaret Thatcher's legislation. Clause 28 stated that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship." Deadline publisher Tom Astor said, "In London, there are even weekly lesbian gatherings called 'Tank Girl nights.'"
With public interest growing, Penguin, the largest publishing company in Britain, bought the rights to collect the strips as a book, and before long, Tank Girl had been published in Spain, Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, Argentina, Brazil and Japan, with several United States publishers fighting over the license. Finally Dark Horse Comics won out, and the strips were reprinted in color beginning in '91, with an extended break in '92, and ending in September '93. A graphic novel-length story named Tank Girl: The Odyssey was also published in '95, written by Peter Milligan and loosely inspired by Homer's Odyssey, Joyce's Ulysses and a considerable quantity of junk TV.
- Tank Girl: Her real name in the strip is Rebecca Buck, but this is very rarely mentioned throughout. According to her own history included as a preface to one of the books, her first words were "cauliflower penis". When she was 7, she started a collection of novelty pencil sharpeners (the collection is now housed in the National Museum of Modern Pencil Sharpeners, Sydney). She later became a tank pilot and worked as a bounty hunter before shooting a heavily decorated officer, having mistaken him for her father, and failing to deliver colostomy bags to President Hogan, the incontinent Head of State in Australia, resulting in him publicly embarrassing himself at a large international trade conference. These events resulted in Tank Girl becoming an outlaw with a multi-million dollar bounty on her head. She is prone to random acts of sex and violence, hair dyeing, flatulence, nose-picking, vomiting, spitting, and more than occasional drunkenness. She also has the ability to outrun any ice cream van - even Mr. Whippy.
- Booga: A mutated kangaroo, formerly a successful toy designer of "products Santa would've sacrificed a reindeer for," and presently Tank Girl's devoted boyfriend. She met him when he snuck into her tank one night to pinch a pair of her knickers. He is a big Dame Edna fan and once impersonated Bill Clinton. Booga, often against his will, always does the cooking, particularly the great British institution of tea. He follows Tank Girl everywhere and does, by his own admission, whatever she tells him. This includes murder.
- The talking stuffed animals:
- Camp Koala: A stitchy, brown, gay, koala-shaped stuffed toy described as "the Jeremy Thorpe of comics", whom TG sodomizes with a hot banana. Camp Koala died tragically when they were playing baseball with live hand grenades which Camp eagerly caught in the outfield, exploding on impact, resulting in a violent, bloody, and gruesome death. After a tearless and comical funeral service, the other characters go to a toy store and buy a new one. Camp Koala is known for visiting occasionally as a guardian angel. He is the only character TG's ever admitted to loving.
- Squeaky toy rat: A squeaky toy rat.
- Mr. Precocious: A "small Shakespearean mutant" who looks a bit like a mini bipedal pink elephant, though may possibly be a bilby.
- Stevie: A wild-haired blond Aborigine who owns a convenience store and chain-smokes. Being TG's ex-boyfriend, Booga is always a bit jealous of him. He has various familial ties and connections with Aboriginal culture and remote traditionalist tribespeople.
- Barney: Busted out of a mental hospital by TG, she is more or less insane. In The Odyssey, she is responsible for killing the whole cast, thereby sending them all to the land of the dead, from which TG was forced to save them by finding the Prince of Farts.
- Sub Girl (real name unknown, although a trading card for the film once listed her real name as 'Subrina'): Described as "like a beautiful flower floating in the loo", she pilots a submarine. A friend of TG's since childhood, she used to come round her house with Jet Girl and try on her mum's underwear.
- Jet Girl (real name unknown): A talented mechanic who flies a jet. All her friends call her "boring" (she has admitted to being a big fan of Rod Stewart).
- Boat Girl: Otherwise known as Jackie. Barney's nervous hairdresser, former figure skater. Her only brother killed by TG and Booga after they stole from a church. She owns a greatly modified WWII Motor Torpedo Boat.
The future of Tank Girl
Martin wandered around for a bit, staying at communes with hippie friends, looking for stone circles and ancient sites before settling in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland with his wife and two children. Martin has played in various bands, written a Tank Girl novel (Armadillo) published in March 2008 by Titan Books, as well as various screenplays and scripts. He wrote the first new Tank Girl limited series in over ten years: Tank Girl: The Gifting with award-winning Australian artist Ashley Wood.
|“||We went to the comics graveyard and dug her up. She's smelling pretty bad, but we're gonna put her in a wheelbarrow and parade her around for all to see, anyway.||”|
On September 28, 2012, Titan Books released The Hole of Tank Girl, which encompasses all the original Hewlett and Martin material, as well as additional bonus material. Martin refers to it as "A massive coffee table slab featuring everything that Hewlett & Martin did in TG’s original run in Deadline Magazine 1988-1995."
|This section lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. (December 2010)|
Tank Girl has been collected into a number of trade paperbacks over the years. The entire back catalogue was reprinted by Titan books in 2002 and these books were "re-mastered" in anniversary editions, stripped of their subsequently-added computer colouring and line work repaired.
- Tank Girl Book 1 consists of the first 15 episodes, originally published in Deadline Magazine, starting Sept. '88, all originally in black and white.
- Tank Girl Book 2 consists of the next 17 episodes, some colour, some black and white.
- Tank Girl Book 3 rounds up a final 9 episodes, including some featuring Booga as the star. Some colour, some black and white.
- Tank Girl - The Odyssey consists of 4 issues released between June and October 1995, published by DC's Vertigo imprint. These comics were printed in full colour.
- Tank Girl - Apocalypse consists of 4 issues released between November 1995 and February 1996, published by DC's Vertigo imprint. Again these comics were in full colour.
- A graphic novel adaptation of the movie was also released by Penguin books in 1995.
- Tank Girl: The Gifting trade paperback (four issue mini-series published by IDW Publishing) was released in November 2007.
- Tank Girl: Armadillo and a Bushel of Other Stories (Novel, Fiction, text by Alan Martin, cover art by Jamie Hewlett) released by Titan Books in March 2008.
- Tank Girl: Visions of Booga trade paperback (four issue mini-series published by IDW Publishing) was released in May 2008.
- "The Cream of Tank Girl" a retrospective art book, was released by Titan Books in October 2008.
- Tank Girl: SkidMarks trade paperback (12 part series in the Judge Dredd Megazine, published in the US by Titan Books as a four issue mini-series) released in July 2010.
- "Tank Girl: The Royal Escape" trade paperback (four issue mini-series published by IDW publishing) was released in September 2010.
- "We Hate Tank Girl" trade paperback (Collects the Tank Girl One-Shots: Dark Nuggets, Dirty Helmets, and Hairy Heroes) was released February 2011.
- "Tank Girl: Bad Wind Rising" Hardcover (four issue mini-series) was released by Titan Books January 2012
- "The Hole Of Tank Girl" A hardcover, large-format book with slipcase, collecting the first three Hewlett & Martin books (with extra archive material), was released by Titan Books on September 18, 2012.
- "Tank Girl: Carioca" Hardcover (collecting the four-issue mini-series) was released by Titan Books in September 2012
- "Tank Girl: Everybody Loves Tank Girl" (collecting the three-issue mini-series) was released by Titan Books in February 2013
- "Tank Girl: Solid State Tank Girl" (collecting the four-issue mini-series) was released by Titan Books in January 2014
The comic was also adapted into a critically and financially unsuccessful film, albeit with a considerable cult following. The film featured Lori Petty as Tank Girl and Naomi Watts as Jet Girl. Martin and Hewlett are known for speaking poorly of the experience, with Martin calling it "a bit of a sore point" for them.
- Action Girl Comics
- The Invisibles
- Kill Your Boyfriend
- Portrayal of women in comics
- Riot Grrrl
- Tank Girl History
- Alan Martin interview
- Whelehan, Imelda; Sonnet, Esther (1997). "Regendered Reading: Tank Girl and Postmodernist Intertextuality". In Cartmell, Deborah. Trash Aesthetics. Sydney: Pluto Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-7453-1202-0.
- Bates, John K. "Wired 2.12: Tank Girl Stomps Hollywood". Wired.
- nalysis of the parallels between Tank Girl: The Odyssey and Homer and Joyce's works
- "Keeping It (Un)real". Wired. July 2005. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tank Girl|
- Official website
- The Nao Of Brown - Glyn Dillon (Jamie Hewlett collaborator) blog
- Philip Bond - Tank Girl collaborator and artist