Friday, 5 June 2009

Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett - Tank Girl vol 1 and 2 (Titan Books)

Tank Girl is one of those seminal texts, like The Watchmen, that launched hundreds of copycats, heavily marrying zeitgeist and comic, a sign of the times, though set in an apocalyptic future. Tank Girl was a hilarious cynical street-smart riposte to comic book machismo and paternal attitudes to women in pictoral form. Tank Girl spawned Gorillaz, eventually. Tank Girl was the late 1980s deconstruction and destruction of prissy New Wave New Romantic MTV dross by giving his a DIY post-punk apocalyptic missile up its arse. And at the centre of it was a punky drunky ignorant feral skinhead called Tank Girl, a girl with a tank. Simple. With its whipsmart dialogue and bizarre scattershot scenarios barely forming a loose arc, she destroyed her way across Australia, whether it was road-tripping with Easy Riders Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda (in this case, volume 2) or delivering colostomy bags to the wetbag Prime Minister, she was always interesting, unintelligible and sardonic. Set in Australia, featuring monstrous hideous personified kangaroos, who fleeted between dangerous and love interest, she battled and fought. These remastered editions from superlative Titan Books, retell he whole story in black and white, with essays by the creators and funs, featuring never-seen-before clips and snapshots of the era that creative Tank Girl, even featuring baby-faced Damon Albarn and Hewlett hanging at art school. The artwork is stuffed with pop culture references, very British references (despite the Outback outset) and spiky slightly obscene images of scantily clad men and women, shagging, raping, fighting and getting blitzed. The disorganised nature of the stories make it a riotous read, never boring and never succumbing to the weight of its own universe, by being so open it can literally be taken anywhere. It’s dated slightly, especially stylistically, and in the actual references, but the structures the one-liners and the format are as fresh as ever, and completely punk. Worth picking up these lovingly compiled new volumes for the extra bits and bobs.

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