Are you ready for some TANK GIIIIIRL?
Many of you may have been born ready. Many of you may know her of old. But if you’re new? No probs. That just means you’re lucky, cos the tank’s full (of comics), and the night is long.
Tank Girl is a girl—a woman, in my reading, but someone who rejects responsibility and respectability and your stinkin’ adult world—who has a tank. Thassit. She has multiple variations on a partially shaved head, and enjoys bonkers adventures where people die and swear. And her boyfriend is a furry. Which I guess makes her “a furry,” technically.
Tank Girl and friends (boyfriend Booga, pals Jet Girl, Sub Girl, Boat Girl, Barney [also a girl]…) live in Australia, in the future, and none of the details are clear. I guess it’s post-apocalyptic, but it doesn’t really matter. Things are only relevant once they need to actually be in the story; it’s an absurdist set-up that, like its protagonist, rejects the rules and does what it wants. The Tank Girl canon is written by Alan Martin and used to be drawn by co-creator Jamie Hewlett. The Gorillaz guy, right?
These days Hewlett’s moved on, and TG lives strong in novels and sometimes, excitingly, in new comics. She’s been drawn by Philip Bond, Glyn Dillon, Ashley Wood, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Jim Mahfood, Rufus Dayglo, Andy Pritchett, and Mike McMahon, which you can read about on Wikipedia. But in the newly released Titan Comics collection of her more recent adventures—The Power of Tank Girl—it’s just Martin, Wood, and Dayglo. (Is that even a real name?)
I’m going to be talking about the first section of the collection. Strap in.
Six Points From the Story of Tank Girl: The Royal Escape & I, October 1st, 2014
Alan Martin & Rufus Dayglo
Titan Comics (previously IDW)
It’s autumn in England but it’s still hot. I am obsessed with Burger King Japan’s Kuro Pearl & Kuro Diamond. In futuristic Australia, where it must be hot due to global warming, Tank girl boils and eats a (mystical) black egg. Synergy.
Man. I hate eggs. But I want that damn egg sandwich. Look at those dreamboat slices, shiny like fat vinyl. Slicing food with a field knife is an unkempt way to live! TG’s doing a bang-up job though; those discs couldn’t be bettered with one of those mousetrap torture egg cage gadgets.
Despite being a kangaroo (mangaroo?), Booga has always been something of a fox. I think it’s good to have boys lying on the floor in comics, dressed like cowboys. Blood optional.
Today is Wednesday and I’m reading The Royal Escape immediately before stepping out to buy multipack chipsticks. I am on the lookout for employment opportunities. Tank Girl would say, “piss on your jobs.” It’s nice of her to look out for me that way.
The first Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider is not, like, “a most greatest film,” but it hits a couple of hypnotic spots for me. Great big judgemental statues coming to life, things being the wrong size, things being very cold, women really feeling violence and fun from their knees to their nipples. Trees growing all over things and great wonders about which nobody has previously told me. Look how cold it is below left (misty). Look how swampy it is below right (hazy). Look at the depth of field despite (wait—because of?) the lack of backgrounds and look how arcane it is: tiny person getting into giant hollow head. Yes!
Alan Martin—co-creator and enduring scriptman for Tank Girl—says to Comic Bastards dot com (on the subject of his and her constantly refreshed young woman and girl audience): “they’re always very excited, like they’ve stumbled on some long-forgotten ruined temple in a jungle, and it’s just theirs and no one else’s.”
And here I am talking about how much I felt at home and alive in the scenes of… long-forgotten ruined temples in jungles. I think a forest would be as evocative as a jungle, but the point is that maybe I like these scenes in these woman-led fictions so much because I totally totally know that entire scene’s feeling. Finding something that fits you—it’s rare and precious, and amazing, and it doesn’t feel like it actually belongs to you (of course on the one hand it doesn’t, it’s communal, but on the other you just aren’t used to feeling suited like this) so you have to claim it. Maybe you run over some other people in your rush to solidify your identity. Maybe Tank Girl murders people a lot, and isn’t very nice to her intimates. But after a time… the clenched fist can relax. Sometimes she’s lovely to them. And you’ve still been there, seen that. Now you’re bigger and more wicked.
This morning I told my gentleman caller than he should maybe trim the underside of his moustache. Guilty feelings? I reject them.
Don’t really know why I don’t mind Tank Girl’s constant tits. Made by men, still, and they’re all dead perky and normative. Should I mind on purpose? I want to be like men must address and redress the patriarchy and this is an example of such a happening (because most everybody you root for in Tank Girl isn’t a bloke, and most or all of the cannon fodder are men aligned with violently authoritative patriarchal institutions [army, police]). But whatever. I don’t mind tits in Tank Girl, because I just don’t. Pretty sure we only see ’em when the woman they’re a part of is tricking some fools into dying. Like Princess Jasmine only swaying her hips with narrowed eyes when she wants to destroy a man. Is that culturally nurturing? Is it misandry? Is it a mistake in disguise?
Alan Martin says to Comiczine-fa: “I would never claim that Tank Girl is a feminist character, she was never invented as such and is far too flawed to embody such aspirations.”
Which is probably the best thing any mister’s ever said about their lady comic character. Buzz in with your alternatives.
“Ambiguity is my friend,” he continues to Comic Bastards, “it’s not just about me ramming a story that can only mean one thing down your throat and you swallowing it.”
Thank you Alan. Might we have another?