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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Tank Girl One


Author: Alan Martin
Artist: Jamie Hewlett
Titan Books
RRP: £10.99, US $14.95, Can $16.95
ISBN: 978 1 84576 757 0
Available 24 April 2009

Read again the stories that shaped Tank Girl’s character from an ignorant, beer-swilling, bestial skinhead in a tank... to an ignorant, beer-swilling, bestial blonde in a tank! Join Tank Girl as she blitzes her way through a dazzling array of bizarre adventures, including bounty hunting, delivering colostomy bags to President Hogan, kangaroo boxing - and many more outrageous and mind-warping thrills...

Marking the character’s 20th and a bit anniversary, this volume brings together the first 15 episodes of Tank Girl’s exploits, which originally appeared in Deadline magazine in late 1988 to early 1990. They’ve been reprinted a few times in between, and the content of this collection is essentially the same as Titan’s 2002 edition, but this time it’s in its original black-and-white form and the repro quality is generally superior in this “remastered” release. There’s also a new introduction by Alan Martin, and some rare artwork by Jamie Hewlett that hasn’t been seen since the 1990 Penguin compilation.

It is apparent from the opening instalments that Hewlett was inspired by the work of Brett Ewins (something of a mentor figure to Hewlett and Martin, as he got them the gig in Deadline), Brendan McCarthy and even Kevin O’Neill, but his art quickly establishes an unmistakably zany style all of its own.

The stories range from just plain odd to laugh-out-loud funny. They are loaded with comical sexuality, violence and post-modern winks at the reader. “How come I can hear everything he’s saying?” wonders Tank Girl as she pursues a wanted kangaroo. “Must be something to do with comics and all that crap!” Many a male reader will fall in love with the adventuress’s sexy yet grungy outfits - or the increasingly lack thereof. Meanwhile, females will appreciate the character’s in-yer-face attitude, as she takes no crap from anyone and ruthlessly dominates her kangaroo boyfriend, Booga.

Before long, Hewlett and Martin have expanded their universe to include friends of Tank Girl called Jet Girl and Sub Girl. A couple of later instalments hint at some higher purpose behind the heroine’s existence (well, it couldn’t sink any lower, could it?), casting her in the guise of some kind of Aboriginal Earth mother.

It has to be said that the text panels contain rather a high incidence of bad spelling and punctuation, so make sure you’re a mature reader or else this graphic novel might rot your brain. Actually, it’ll probably rot your brain anyway, but what the hell...!

If you’ve never before had the chance to enjoy these early adventures, or if you fancy a blast from the past, then take the girl home with you now.


Richard McGinlay

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