Some SFX readers may remember the ill-fated film starring Lori Petty that graced the cover of the mag's first ever issue, but naturally fans can recall Tank Girl’s raucous early ‘90s beginnings as a strip by Gorillaz artist Jamie Hewlett inside Deadline magazine. A punked-up loose cannon with a fondness for kangaroo sidekicks, Tank Girl remained hugely popular until Deadline folded 12 years ago. Now she's back and has been promoted to a top spot inside the famous Judge Dredd Megazine, starting with a three-part storyline: "Skidmarks".
We took time out to talk to Megazine editor Matt Smith, artist Rufus Dayglo and writer and original co-creator Alan Martin about the return of the Antipodean ass-kicker.
What was behind your decision to include Tank Girl in the Megazine?
Matt Smith: “Rufus approached me at the last Birmingham Comic Con, and asked whether I'd be interested. I thought it was a good opportunity to bring one of British comics' most iconic figures to the Meg, and would generate excitement from readers who used to enjoy Tank Girl stories back in the Deadline days.”
And why bring the character back now?
Smith: “Tank Girl hasn't been published in a British newsstand title for over 12 years - since Deadline folded; she's just appeared in US mini-series, often not by her original creators. Tank Girl scriptwriter and co-creator Alan Martin was quite keen to see her back in a UK magazine, where she belongs. Titan have recently collected a book of Alan's Tank Girl short stories and she seems to be back in the public eye again.”
So what can fans and newcomers expect from Tank Girl: Skidmarks?
Alan Martin: “Super-fast, ultra-bloodthirsty, machine-mashing, life-affirming, brain-power-enhancing, relentless... stupidity.”
Smith: “Tank Girl is taking part in a race across Australia to raise money for her injured friend languishing in hospital. Think 'Wacky Races', but with more firepower. But where the story goes, and what happens to her in the course of the race, is something you'll have to wait and see!”
Rufus, what is the greatest challenge in depicting Tank Girl?
Rufus Dayglo: “I tried to draw her as a man initially, but Alan wouldn’t have it. After a protracted legal wrangle I consented to drawing her as a girl... in a tank of fish... it was as close as I could get while on this foul medication. Booga was easy, I based him on Martin Fry in his gold tux. I thought about basing him on Ice T... but what sorta stupid fool would do that?”
How far do you feel you’ve stayed true to the spirit of Jamie Hewlett’s original artwork?
Dayglo: “I’ve done my level best to raise Tank Girl to new lows. I’ve infused Jamie’s mojo into a carton of Kia Ora and I sup on it through a bendy straw. Sometimes I choke on the bubbles, but a Fisherman’s Friend usually sorts this out.”
So how much of your own artistic sensibilities did you bring to the comic?
Dayglo: “Thankfully I’ve subcontracted most of the tough stuff - hands, noses, circles and crosshatching - to some Gurkhas I met while stacking shelves at Iceland. They can’t reach the top shelves, but blimey, can they draw girls and tanks!”
Okay... In the last ten years, strong female heroines have become a trend in genre TV shows and comics. What makes Tank Girl stand out from the usual heroines?
Martin: “The cut of her jib. Plus she was one of the first, so these rookie tarts better start showing some respect for the elderly.”
How will you ensure that Tank Girl stays hip and relevant to today's comic readers?
Smith: “As far as being 'hip' goes, trends have never mattered, only an enjoyable story - when you start following fashions and redesigning something to make it contemporary, you often lose the spirit that the character was born with.”
What characteristics define a Tank Girl story?
Martin: “I guess Tank Girl needs some form of enemy in each piece... just someone she doesn't like, for whatever unbalanced reason. Several needless deaths are always quite good, as is a light peppering of torture and bullying. Gratuitous swearing and blaspheming; a small amount of cookery and the inclusion of a cameo by someone from a decent band. Check out Skidmarks part three for our greatest cameo yet!”
Is there any potential for character cross-overs from 2000AD?
Smith: “Since Tank Girl is creator owned, it's probably unlikely. But don't discount the possibility of a Tank Girl/Judge Dredd team-up on the cover at some point.”
Interviewed by Kelly Sorbie
There's a piece from 2000 AD's Tharg on the subject of Tank Girl in the latest issue of SFX magazine , on sale now.