Tank Girl

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For the film, see Tank Girl (film).
Tank Girl
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Publication information
Publisher Penguin Books
Genre Science fiction
Publication date 1988
Creative team
Writer(s) Alan Martin
Artist(s) Jamie Hewlett
Creator(s) Jamie Hewlett
Alan Martin

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.

The strip was initially set in a stylized post-apocalyptic Australia,[1] although it drew heavily from contemporary British pop culture.

Publication history[edit]

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'.[2]

The image was published in the fanzine as a one-page ad, but the Tank Girl series first appeared in the debut issue of Deadline (1988),[3] 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-shirts and underpants 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.'"[4]

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[5] 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.

Subsequent Tank Girl[edit]

After the 1995 film, Hewlett went on to create the band Gorillaz with Blur's Damon Albarn.[6]

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 limited series Tank Girl: The Gifting with Australian artist Ashley Wood.

On September 28, 2012, Titan Books released The Hole of Tank Girl, which encompasses the original Hewlett and Martin material, as well as additional content.[7]

Hewlett and Martin released the series 21st Century Tank Girl on June 10, 2015.[citation needed]

Collected editions[edit]

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.

Title Authors ISBN Release date Comments
Tank Girl 1 Jamie Hewlett and Alan C. Martin ISBN 978-1840234350 (Reprint) ISBN 978-1845767570 (Remaster) 26 April 2002 (Reprint) 24 April 2009 (Remaster) Consists of the first 15 episodes, originally published in Deadline Magazine, starting Sept. '88, all originally in black and white.
Tank Girl 2 Jamie Hewlett and Alan C. Martin ISBN 978-1840234923 (Reprint) ISBN 978-1845767594 (Remaster) 21 June 2002 (Reprint) 24 April 2009 (Remaster) Consists of the next 17 episodes, some colour, some black and white.
Tank Girl 3 Jamie Hewlett and Alan C. Martin ISBN 978-1840234930 (Reprint) ISBN 978-1845767617 (Remaster) 25 October 2002 (Reprint) 24 July 2009 (Remaster) Rounds up a final 9 episodes, including some featuring Booga as the star. Some colour, some black and white.
Tank Girl - The Odyssey Jamie Hewlett and Peter Milligan ISBN 978-1840234947 (Reprint) ISBN 978-1845767631 (Remaster) 27 December 2002 (Reprint) 25 September 2009 (Remaster) 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 Alan Grant, Andy Pritchett and Philip Bond ISBN 978-1840237252 (Reprint) ISBN 978-1845767655 (Remaster) 21 August 2003 (Reprint) 26 February 2010 (Remaster) Consists of 4 issues released between November 1995 and February 1996, published by DC's Vertigo imprint. Again these comics were in full colour.
Tank Girl - Movie Adaptation Peter Milligan and Andy Pritchett ISBN 978-1563892196 28 March 1995 A graphic novel adaptation of the movie released by Penguin books in 1995. This was not reprinted or remastered by Titan Books
Tank Girl: The Gifting Martin and Ashley Wood ISBN 978-1845761707 23 November 2007 Four issue mini-series published by IDW Publishing
Tank Girl: Armadillo and a Bushel of Other Stories Alan C. Martin ISBN 978-1845764845 21 March 2008 A fiction novel with cover art by Jamie Hewlett
Tank Girl: Visions of Booga Alan C. Martin and Rufus Dayglo ISBN 978-1848561663 28 November 2008 Four issue mini-series published by IDW Publishing
The Cream of Tank Girl Jamie Hewlett and Alan C. Martin ISBN 978-1845769420 24 October 2008 A retrospective art book
Tank Girl: SkidMarks Alan C. Martin and Rufus Dayglo ISBN 978-1848566811 30 July 2010 12 part series in the Judge Dredd Megazine, published in the US by Titan Books as a four issue mini-series
Tank Girl: The Royal Escape Alan C. Martin and Rufus Dayglo ISBN 978-0857681249 25 February 2011 Four issue mini-series published by IDW publishing
We Hate Tank Girl Alan C. Martin and Rufus Dayglo ISBN 978-1607063490 19 January 2011 Collects the Tank Girl One-Shots: Dark Nuggets, Dirty Helmets, and Hairy Heroes
Tank Girl: Bad Wind Rising Alan C. Martin and Rufus Dayglo ISBN 978-0857687425 (Hardcover) ISBN 978-0857681188 (Paperback) 27 January 2012 (Hardcover) 31 December 2014 (Paperback) Four issue mini-series published by Titan Comics
The Hole Of Tank Girl Jamie Hewlett and Alan C. Martin ISBN 978-0857687449 28 September 2012 A hardcover, large-format book with slipcase, collecting the first three Hewlett & Martin books (with extra archive material)
Tank Girl: Carioca Alan C. Martin and Mike McMahon ISBN 978-0857687432 26 October 2012 Collecting the three-issue mini-series published by Titan Comics
Tank Girl: Everybody Loves Tank Girl Alan C. Martin and Jim Mahfood ISBN 978-0857687500 22 February 2013 Collecting the three-issue mini-series published by Titan Comics
Tank Girl: Solid State Tank Girl Alan C. Martin and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell ISBN 978-1782760030 14 January 2014 Collecting the four-issue mini-series published by Titan Comics
The Power of Tank Girl Alan C. Martin, Ashley Wood and Rufus Dayglo ISBN 978-1782760641 30 September 2014 An omnibus edition compiling the three Tank Girl graphic novels "The Gifting", "Visions of Booga", and "The Royal Escape"
21st Century Tank Girl Alan C. Martin, Brett Parson, Craig Knowles, Jim Mahfood, Jonathan Edwards, Philip Bond, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell and Jamie Hewlett ISBN 978-1782766612 4 November 2015 Collecting the three-issue mini-series published by Titan Comics
Tank Girl: Two Girls, One Tank Alan C. Martin & Brett Parson ISBN 978-1785853562 6 December 2016 A four-issue mini-series published by Titan Comics, first part in a trilogy
Tank Girl: Gold Alan C. Martin & Brett Parson ISBN 978-1-78585-525-2 (1-78585-525-5) 25 April 2017 A four issue mini-series published by Titan Comics, second part of the trilogy


Main article: Tank Girl (film)

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.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ danthompson33 (25 June 2010). "Tank Girl in Worthing". Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "Alan Martin on Tank Girl - Interview". Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Bates, John K. "Wired 2.12: Tank Girl Stomps Hollywood". Wired. 
  5. ^ nalysis of the parallels between Tank Girl: The Odyssey and Homer and Joyce's works
  6. ^ "Keeping It (Un)real". Wired. July 2005. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  7. ^ "THE HOLE OF TANK GIRL – OUT TODAY! - Tank Girl". Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "Alan Martin on Tank Girl - Interview". Retrieved 6 July 2016. 

External links[edit]