Tank Girl 2

Author: Alan Martin
Artist: Jamie Hewlett
Titan Books
RRP 10.99, US $16.99
ISBN 1 84023 429 X
Available now

Join Tank Girl as she escapes from an asylum, goes back to comics school with Hewlett and Martin, visits her English grandparents in the West Country, gets high on hallucinogenic drugs, and gets fired from
Deadline magazine...

There is strong evidence in this collection of comic strips to suggest that Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin were either beginning to grow bored with the original Tank Girl concept or they were running out of ideas for it, because the stories herein deviate considerably from what has gone before.

Tank Girl herself spends relatively little time in her usual Aussie outback setting. She visits the UK in Summer Love Sensation and steps out of her narrative environment completely when she is sacked from Deadline and cast out on to the street in The Fall and Rise and Fall and the Ship in the Bottle. She meets her own creators in Force Ten to Ringarooma Bay and Summer Love Sensation, the plots to both of which depart on Pythonesque tangents. Force Ten... ends up turning into an exquisitely detailed spoof of The Prisoner. It's hard to tell whether H and M were being wacky for the sake of it, or whether they just couldn't think of a way to end these stories!

Several of the strips don't feature Tank Girl at all. Her kangaroo boyfriend Booga takes the lead in the drugged-up 1970s cop-show spoof Askey & Hunch and in Booga's Christmas Carol. Tank Girl's pal Jet Gurl (sic) appears in Hairy Pussy, a story within a story concerning a Wild West sheriff called Harry Poussini. A similar framing narrative surrounds Blue Helmet, although Tank Girl does appear in the main story - as do a gang of bears who represent a fusion of Yogi Bear, the Hair Bear Bunch and the Banana Splits!

Each of these narrative detours gives Hewlett the opportunity to tailor his artistic style accordingly, ranging from the more cartoony style of Hairy Pussy and Askey & Hunch to the intricate detail of The Fall and Rise...

Although all of the pages are now printed in full colour, many of them were originally beautifully hand-coloured by Hewlett himself. Unfortunately, the original colour artwork has lost some of its detail and contrast in reproduction. Also, the centre details of the double-page spreads have been compromised by the paperback binding process - i.e. you'd have to crease the spine to see the whole artwork!

However, in spite of a few repro problems and despite (or because of) the creators deviating from their original concept, this compendium remains anarchically entertaining.

Richard McGinlay

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