Comics: Tank Girl Full Colour Classics Book Two (1991-1993) - Reviewed

This new collection of Tank Girl stories collects sixteen of her bizarre and confusing adventures, along with never-before seen photos of creative team Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin, as well as other rare Tank Girl artifacts that have not been included in previous versions. 

For those not familiar with Tank Girl, the only thing anyone really needs to know is nothing is sacred, nothing is shocking, and anything goes.  Tank Girl is a bald, crass, and violent outlaw who drives around in a tank having misadventures with her anthropomorphic kangaroo boyfriend, Booga in post-apocalyptic Australia. Tank Girl is early-1990s punk rock aesthetic in comic book form. From character designs, to the satire and parodying of the then-current state of comic books, the stories are bizarre fun and capture the zeitgeist of their time with perfection.

In this new version of Tank Girl 2, not only are all the stories that have been in previous prints, but also an extra quick story, Tank Girl in “Fucked up Afro Zombie Babes from No Where!”, and covers of the British comic book magazine, Deadline, the comics originally appeared in. The highlight of this collection is the final feature of the book, the first appearance of Tank Girl from the UK ‘zine Village Under Threat.  This is not only a cool piece of history, one that many fans have probably not seen before that really shines a light on the character and her creators, but it’s also extremely entertaining!

The other big difference in this version over the past editions of this collection of stories is the all new colors done by Tracy Bailey & Sofie Dodgson.  These new colors breathe new life into the comic, adding color where there before was not, making everything so much more vibrant, and allowing the details in the artwork pop.  

Jamie Hewlett’s art is unique and probably most recognizable as the image of the band Gorillaz (he and the ex-singer/guitarist of Blur, Damon Albarn created the band), and the look is pretty much right on par with what one would expect if familiar with Gorillaz.  Tank Girl is slightly more fun, however, because of the punk aesthetic.  The punk aesthetic here is not just with the style of clothes the and haircuts the characters have, but also in the structure of the panels on the pages, and the overall look.  Hewlett is obviously an extremely talented artist, and there is an impressive amount of detail to every page, but some of it is rather crudely done, in what appears to be an aesthetic choice.  Martin and Hewlett never wanted to follow the “rules” of comic books, and they even point that out in some of the stories here.  

The only downside to this book is that because these comics were typically one-shots amidst other independent comic strips in a magazine, they are best consumed in short doses.  There is a lot going on in each panel, both visually and in dialogue, and some of the stories are so strange that they can become confusing. 

--Mara Powell