Tank Girl

by Blaise Tassone

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Tank Girl celebrated its 30th anniversary this October. The genius of the Tank Girl comic lay in its simplicity. Sometimes less is more, and in the case of Tank Girl, featuring stories about a girl (later called Rebecca Buck) who lived in a tank, the minimalist approach was used to perfection.

Taking as its setting a post-Apocalyptic scenario, the original Tank Girl stories took place in a futuristic Australia rife with mutant Kangaroos and mafia gangs (think: the Mad Max films as directed by David Lynch). The comic, combining the above setting with tales of the futuristic rebel girl was born when musicians/comic creators Jamie Hewlitt and Alan Martin came up with their quirky heroine and set out to use her as a mouthpiece for cultural satire.

Some concepts just work in fiction and Tank Girl managed to simultaneously exemplify various popular genres. Of those genres, the books excelled at the use of: Punk Rock minimalism, survivalist adventure tales, subversive black humor and an outsider motif topped off with a satirical war/action genre veneer.

Inspired partly by alternative and underground comics of the 1980s, like Love and Rockets, Tank Girl was experimental in both its look (artist Jamie Hewlitt would often draw collage-like and expansive montage panels), as well as its story-telling approach (with writer Alan Martin frequently bypassing the development of anything approaching a linear plot).

Tank Girl, although first and foremost a product of the 1980s, frequently rises above its sardonic social critiques to say something about the human condition. Although set in a surrealistic future Australia, the book was actually the product of two very English creators both inspired by the use of the underground comics medium as a platform for social criticism. In the case of the Tank Girl comic, Hewlitt and Martin were commenting on the British Cultural scene of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, however when we take into account that the explicitly subversive message and how the humorous criticism of authority contained throughout the comic can be appreciated by any reader of comic books, it becomes apparent that -within the pages of Tank Girl – the stage was set early on for a classic.

The only way to truly appreciate the experience of the Tank Girl comics, however, is to read them.

Deadline Magazine #1 (October 1988) – First Full Appearance of Tank Girl

Reading the adventures of Tank Girl is easy enough, since her comics can be found in reprinted anthology editions. If you’re a fan and want to collect her original appearances however, things can start to get expensive. At the time the Tank Girl comics were first produced in the UK, Deadline Magazine, published by Cardrest Limited, was a counter-culture voice and so it seemed the perfect venue for the first appearance of Tank Girl. Three copies of this magazine can be found on the CGC census and of those an 8.5 sold for $900.00 in March of 2018. 8.5 is also the highest recorded grade of this book. If you like Tank Girl, this British magazine is definitely worth looking out for.

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Tank Girl #1 [Darkhorse Comics] (May 1991) – American Debut of Tank Girl

Tank Girl was turned into a movie in 1995. Directed by Rachel Talalay and starring Lori Petty, the movie is still beloved by many fans of the comic, but was a financial flop and, after its initial release, criticized by some for trying to take the cult favorite comic in a more mainstream direction. Before the movie’s release, Tank Girl and other characters from the comic, such as her crazy companions: Sub Girl, Jet Girl and Booga: Tank Girl’s Mutant Kangaroo boyfriend, were introduced to a wider American audience with the release of these color reprints of the Deadline stories. Four issues worth of stories were published by Darkhorse comics, but issue #1 is the most valuable. With a FMV of $500.00 in certified 9.8 grade, this comic is much better represented on the CGC census with 79 graded copies and 19 of them 9.8. Best returns have been on 9.2 at positive 91.6% roi after six sales over the last two years and currently having a FMV of $120.00..

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