Click here to return to the main site.

Comic Book Review

Book Cover

Tank Girl
Full Colour Classics #2


Writers: Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin
Artist: Jamie Hewlett
Colourist: Tracy Bailey
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £4.60, US $6.99
Age: 17+
64 pages
Publication Date: 17 October 2018

Thirty years ago, Tank Girl was unleashed upon the world by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin, and originally published in the legendary Deadline magazine from 1988 to 1995. In this anniversary series, we reappraise the initial run of comics, giving them a shiny new full-colour treatment in a style consistent with their age and original production – and add context with artwork and photographs from the Hewlett and Martin archives. Happy birthday, Tank Girl…!

This is the second of six issues presenting all of Tank Girl’s appearances from Deadline magazine, complete with new colours by Tracy Bailey. To clarify, these strips have appeared in colour before, in collections such as Titan’s 2002 graphic novel Tank Girl. However, the repro quality is better this time, presumably because the art has been scanned at a larger size. This issue contains the same strips as the second half of the 2002 compilation and Titan’s remastered black and white 2009 edition, Tank Girl One.

It begins with the two-part The Australian Job, in which, by a staggering coincidence, it is Tank Girl’s birthday – just as it is now! However, her party plans are scuppered by a lack of decent booze. Thanks to the local mafia, the only available beer is a brand called Spunk Beer, “the weakest lager in the known universe”. Cue lots of snigger-inducing references to the product name, such as “The fridge is full of Spunk!” What follows is a Tank Girl spin on The Italian Job, but with beer as the object of the heist… and the intervention of a giant hamburger… and this time we find out what the lead character’s “great idea” actually is. More obscure allusions are made to contemporary reviewers, who I guess said some unfavourable things about Tank Girl. The staff of Speaking Easily magazine (a reference to Speakeasy, a publication that combined comics-related interviews and criticism) and Fantasy Y-Fronts Advertiser (referring to the similarly themed Fantasy Advertiser and possibly also another title) are shown to be complete tossers before being struck by speeding tanks. This memorable strip is also notable for the debut of Tank Girl’s buddies Jet Girl and Sub Girl – though the uncommunicative relationship between the two is very different to the close comradeship that subsequently emerged.

Three of the next four stories build upon the theme of a higher power behind Tank Girl’s existence, something that was hinted at at the end of the previous issue. Two of these stories aren’t comic strips as such. One of them is more like illustrated textual musings, while another, The Preposterous Bollox of the Situation, takes the form of a letter addressed to the heroine’s mum – and includes an endearing image of a ten-year-old Tank Girl picking her nose. An untitled strip flashes forward forty years to show oppressed Aborigines summoning up an avenging spirit, called Tanicha, which resembles Tank Girl and defeats their enemies in a typically sexy and violent manner.

In other strips, Tank Girl is mean to her much-abused kangaroo boyfriend Booga, first by forcing him to become a boxer and then by pretending that a meteor is about to crash into the planet in order to get out of buying him a birthday present!

However, the high-water mark of this issue, perhaps even the pinnacle of Hewlett and Martin’s entire body of work together, is Sweaty Moments Show. Tank Girl has rarely looked sexier than she does here, and the strip contains imagery and lines that have deservedly lodged in my memory since I first saw them almost thirty years ago – such as Tank Girl donning a “dump hat” when she’s on the dunny, and her ex-boyfriend Stevie rattling off a ridiculously long list of what he would like Booga to serve him for breakfast before adding “pa-leez” at the end, as though the politeness makes his demands reasonable. This story also sees a long-lasting change to the supporting cast, which prompts a trip to a toy shop.

Colourist Tracy Bailey is generally bonzer at bringing these exploits to vibrant life, though she overlooks the fact that the mini tanks in The Australian Job should be red, white and blue, as described in the dialogue. There’s also what appears to be a baseball bat in Sweaty Moments Show that has not been coloured in – the black ink has faded out, so it looks more like the ghost of a baseball bat.

Full of delightfully preposterous bollox and sweaty moments, this is a great collection. Well, I have to say that, don’t I, as I know what Tank Girl and her chums do to those who give her bad reviews!


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

Kindle Edition
Kindle Edition