What Is Tank Girl?

Jessica Kemp writes for Bleeding Cool. We tried to stop her but we failed.

Solid State Tank Girl Cover Artwork Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
Solid State Tank Girl Cover Artwork Warwick Johnson-Cadwell

Right then I said I'd do this a long time ago.

Mainly as Alan promised me some cheroots and a half a shandy.

And that in part is why I haven't done so.

You see I am Deeply, DEEPLY Biased.

I'd like to to say Alan.C.Martin is a gentleman and someone I like to count amongst my friends.

Well, no he's more of a guru, he's Worthing's answer to Alan Ginsberg (he actually didn't pay me to write that believe it or not). 

However, biased as I am I feel its long over due for me to comment publicly on this matter and put a few ghosts and demons to rest.

*lights cigarette*

First the myth that any ONE human being is Tank Girl.

She's a composite of MANY characters male and female.

One thing worth remembering or how I essentially see her is as a man in Drag.

Specifically Jamie, in a dress and big boots or Alan, on one of his less hirsute days.

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Hewlett
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Tank Girl
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Alien Martin, shave him stick him in a frock its uncanny I tell you!

One thing that has been increasingly clear to me since Jamie's (temporary?) departure as the main artist on more recent Tank Girls is that its Alan's writing that is the strength behind her popularity.

This is not to deride Jamie's contribution, not in the slightest, he's still universally the favourite artist for her many fans, without him she wouldn't be what she is.
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But this is important thing, WHAT is she?

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At a time when easily accessible female role models were in short supply she became one if not THE key role model for generations of women some of whom went on to become some of the most powerful names in the entertainments and arts industries.

Whats important to remember here is that she is the creation of two men, who are HUGE fans of women.

She's an empowered creation and as Alan recently wrote of her himself in Solid State Tank Girl.

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Panel from Solid State Tank Girl, bit fuzzy blame my RSI

'You're a dificault character to nail down. You're simultaneously idiotic and complex…cliched and indefinable'

I think that sums her up succinctly, but then he would say that wouldn't he…?

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Which brings me back to the main purpose of this little ramble.

I finally purchased Solid State Tank Girl from my favoured comic store of choice Dave's comics in sunny Brighton, I say sunny hesitantly as it was anything but, It was absolutely pissing it down, but as usual I digress.
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In Solid State Tank Girl we get (in the writers own words again):

'the basic premise of this story started of as a hum-drum, run-of-the-mill comic book standards – hero meets Nemesis, both are almost destroyed, revelations about the protagonist ensue. But as soon as I put pen to paper, things started to mutate. Similarly, the nemesis herself found it hard to stay true to my original plan for her character, which was drawn from the anti-tank machine guns and missiles of World War Two, and the brutal machinery of war'.

 

Solid State Tank Girl Cover Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
Solid State Tank Girl Cover Warwick Johnson-Cadwell

I went on an interesting journey with this issue.

I was shattered having had a number of long days since going freelance (insert worlds smallest violin joke here). 

I was in need of a little bit of nostalgia, a little empowerment and a heavy dose of swearing and possibly comic book violence, so obviously I picked up the copy of Solid State Tank Girl that I had been putting off reading and saving as a bit of a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed with a vat of coffee, some fags and a lie down on the chaise.

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Solid State Tank Girl Cover Warwick Johnson-Cadwell

 

What did I come away with?

Solid State Tank Girl Cover Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
Solid State Tank Girl Cover Warwick Johnson-Cadwell

ALL of the above and much more!

*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*  *SPOILERS*  *SPOILERS

I got to revisiting Sunday afternoons with the incredible shrinking man and woman, renewed my love of archaic radio gear (thanks dad) and feel immensely justified in my loathing of pink toys being prevalent for little girls.*

 

*(Don't get me wrong I had plenty of My little ponies and wore pink, but I did so up a tree covered in mud and after I'd shave the pony's, apparently its got something to do with taking ownership of our own bodies').

*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*  *SPOILERS*  *SPOILERS

In short I enjoyed it, Five Stars to you Messers Martin and Johnson-Cadwell, have a cigar.

Solid State Tank Girl Artwork Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
Solid State Tank Girl Artwork Warwick Johnson-Cadwell

As I said earlier what makes Tank Girl for me at least is the strength of Alan's writing.

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What I've always enjoyed is that there is more often than not no discernible plot.
This is what scotched the success of the film in my opinion, America failed to realise that sometimes there isn't a comfortable story arch and easy resolution set to a great soundtrack, sometimes life just happens while you're on the way to do something else, say rob a bank for instance.

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Having said that what is also integral and keeps me coming back for more is that Alan has a habit of littering references well worth further investigation throughout EVERY script.
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Be they Musical, Literary or Artistic in origin He's single handedly introduced me to more concepts movements and ideas across the last twenty odd years then any other human being, and I'm not the only one.
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Readers have been introduced to a plethora of Pop Culture Icons including CUD, Adam and the Ants, Tom Waits, Andy Warhol, the Beats and so on. Theres also been Philosophy, Science, Religion and Sexuality, Feminism, and Parenthood.
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No tall order for even an average writer.

Through recommendation reference and collboration the complete Tank Girl collection to date Alan has done a huge amount to introduce loyal readers to the influences on and partners in crime of Team Tank.
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For the relaunch of the eponymous title a new artist by the name of Ashley Wood was brought in to take over the weekend stilettos left by Hewlett.
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Woods style marked a radical departure in style and feel to Jamie's original concept, but still stayed loyal to the flourishes and references Jamie had become known for.

I've got to be honest I loved what Ashley Wood did with her, and I was sad to see him go, but you know shit happens and life gets in the way etc etc.
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To replace Ashley a new gun slinger brought in by the name of Rufus Dayglo, Who I both met, liked and shared a few brews with.

A talented artist who's work ethos is second to none Rufus went about bring our girl to new readers scribbling his arse off and attending nearly every damned convention going and producing sketches at a rate of knots.

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Rufus Dayglo – pencil in mouth
Christian Krank - colourist and Gentleman
Christian Krank – colourist and Gentleman

Collaborating with the frankly lovely Christian Krank they formed a new Team Tank with Alan which was mainly published throughout Titan with Steve White at the helm as editor.

By the time Rufus and Christian departed Team Tank for various reasons, but mainly to pursue their own personal projects Rufus on Solid Gold Death Mask and Christian's 'Tales of the Dead Earth.

Along with Alan, Rufus and Christian (almost) succeeded in wiping the cinema adventure from the collective consciousness.

Resuscitated her antics for a new generation, who were now greedily devouring her tale of depravity, not to mention learning a new lexicon of swears courtesy of Mr Martin.
t27Next into the empty Dr Martin Clown shoes which Alan makes every artist wear 'to get into character' were the following, possibly not in chronological order:

Jim Mahfood, Mick (not Mike as it says on the wicked encyclopaedia) McMahon, Glyn Dillon,  Ashley Wood, Philip Bond, Andy Pritchett and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. (to get direct links to their websites roll over their names all the links are as up to date as I can make them). 

For further enlightenment which isn't as heavily biased as this fan girl review click here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tank-Girl/15379302694

Or Here: http://www.tank-girl.com

Or even Here! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank_Girl

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About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

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