Tank Girl's familiar conveyance in an unfamiliar environment.


Original Medium: Comic books
Published in: Deadline magazine
First Appeared: 1988
Creators: Alan Martin (writer) and Jamie Hewlet (artist)
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Paralleling the British "invasion" of American popular music, there was a British invasion of U.S. comic books, when talent such as Alan Moore (Watchmen), John Bolton (Camelot 3000) and James Robinson (Starman) achieved prominence in America. Writer Alan Martin and artist Jamie Hewlet …

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… aren't such high-profile creators as those comics-world celebrities, but their best-known creation, Tank Girl, is definitely a part of that British Invasion.

Tank Girl debuted in the British black and white comic book Deadline, which came out in 1988. Given the success Judge Dredd, Robo-Hunter, Halo Jones and others originating in Britain's weekly 2000 AD had recently enjoyed in the U.S., copies were imported across the Atlantic; thus, Tank Girl got an early American following. But real interest in the character started in 1991, when Dark Horse Comics (Hellboy, The American) began reprinting her adventures in color.

Tank Girl was introduced riding around near-future Australia in a tank (which she also lived in), performing vaguely-defined missions for an equally vaguely-defined agency of some kind, possibly part of the local government and possibly not. She ran afoul of them when she failed to deliver a load of colostomy bags, causing severe embarrassment to a powerful politician, and was declared an outlaw for various victimless crimes she was in the habit of committing. Her boyfriend was a mutated kangaroo named Booga. And that was about as realistic as her series ever got. She had a regular human name, Rebecca Buck, but it was seldom mentioned.

Tank Girl started as a punked-out chick drawn by Hewlet while he happened to be working on a commercial design job that involved using World War II tank photos as reference. Since the 1984 Supergirl movie, Martin and Hewlet had gotten into the habit of appending "girl" to various characters or people, so that drawing became Tank Girl. In the series, her associates included Sub Girl, Jet Girl and Boat Girl.

Eventually, Tank Girl drew interest from Hollywood — despite the fact that its popularity never really rose above cult levels by Hollywood standards.. United Artists (Little Iodine, The Pink Panther) released the film version on March 31, 1995. Lori Petty (whose few other toon connections include voicing the villain Livewire in both Superman and Batman cartoons) played the title role. DC Comics, whose Vertigo imprint (Sandman, Animal Man) had published a couple of Tank Girl graphic novels, adapted the movie back into comic books. Martin and Hewlet were reportedly dissatisfied with the film version.

The property was dormant for a few years after that. Eventually, Martin spearheaded a couple of mini-series published in England. He's also written a novel, Tank Girl Armadillo, which was published in April, 2008. The old comic book work is in print from Titan Books (Swamp Thing, Modesty Blaise).


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Text ©2008-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlet.