||[Apr. 27th, 2008|04:19 pm]
100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)
#82 TANK GIRL BOOK 1 – Jamie Hewlett, Alan Martin
“We’re nasty and we smell!”
Jamie Hewlett’s lewd and anarchic artwork is what takes Tank Girl from fanzine-level toilet humour and elevates it to the most delirious heights of absurdism. The tanks rumbling down the vertical cliffs of a post-apocalyptic Australia where everyone’s obsessed with the minutiae of British pop culture; the mutant kangaroos with crooked sunglasses and tongues lolling as they rampage through a barbecue; the tattoo of a young and virile Tom Waits smoking a cigarette on the Devil’s bicep; little details like R.E.M. lyrics on a gun holster and a Nick Cave quote around a panel border. Most of all Tank Girl herself, punk-haired and heroically grotty, leering at kangaroo men, flashing her bra and hefting guns and missiles – not to mention the militarised mammaries – so over-sized only boys who read too much Judge Dredd at an impressionable age could have imagined them.
Like Mad Max with oestrogen poisoning, Tank Girl stalks and demolishes her way through a vague setting Hewlett and Martin are clearly making up as they go along based on an Australia they’ve seen in a couple of movies at most (halfway through they learn how to spell Sydney right, but they never figure out Skippy doesn’t have an E in his name). The writing, such as it is, reads like a drunken conversation between the two of them. “Let’s kick off with a bit of violence!” says Martin, to which Hewlett replies with bodies crushed by tanks screaming “Yaa burssst!” and “Arrrgh splat!”
Although Hewlett’s capable of dazzling displays of technical virtuosity, he doesn’t spend a lot of time showing off his chops in Tank Girl. That would be missing the point. Focussed outbursts of mad passion with no regard for the more finicky details of actual craft and composition are what it’s all about. Tank Girl is as punk as a comic can be.