21st Century Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett, Alan Martin and others
|21st Century Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett, Alan Martin and others|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Never for the faint-hearted, either visually or linguistically, this comic returns to our shelves as if it had never left them.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 112||Date: December 2015|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
I sometimes wonder, when keying in book reviews, if ISBNs are not constructed by design instead of the formal accident that is supposed to create them. Surely it's intentional that this book has 666 in its code – it's the most devilishly brash, ugly and foul-mouthed comic around, and people who like that kind of thing will like this. Especially as this book is a return to waaay distant form, and waaay distant creative partnerships, with the original artist Jamie Hewlett back on board. It's time to cuss and roll once more…
There is a part of me that thinks Tank Girl should come in six page sections in something like Deadline Magazine, and not this, which smacks more of corporate annual book, if anything – it's all glossy hardback, pin-ups, plain text stories, non-narrative sections and weird fan-friendly elements. Gone are the days when fanzines had a samizdat feel – this is definitely Tank Girl in the official, commercial world – hence perhaps her blowing up a mall with the help of her friends. Still, the use of any passing, random artist seems to help keep things very lively here.
It's lively in text, which brings me on to what to expect of the comics if you have no idea how they read. To get the most out of these you have to have comprehensive knowledge of English vernacular swearing – which is on these pages in the most quotable fashion (but just not quotable here, OK?). You have to expect every few speech bubbles, either in the context of a conversation or a full story, to have a complete non sequitur, bringing the most unexpected to the fore. You also could do with an encyclopaedic experience of low-brow British 'culture' – one lengthy piece here almost seems like the most bizarre way to shoehorn a misquote from On the Buses on to the page – although it's certainly funny when it does.
You also have to wait quite a while to see any tanks… This devil-may-care attitude, of never trying to appease any publisher, any audience, or any real aesthetic if I'm honest about some of the sections, is seemingly never going to go away from Alan Martin, whether he's in Worthing or Berwick-upon-Tweed, or writing for pennies from an upstart journal or a major publisher like Titan Books. Perhaps that's why I didn't completely engage with this – I'm one of the seven billion people this comic could easily alienate (there's a few thousand who will love it to the core of their being, and many like me who can admire some of what it does but prefer a clearer, more conforming artist's line, and billions who would hate it, for various reasons). It's all of a piece, if you can get to like the piece – the character and the designs she features in are all junky/punky/druggy/some-of-the-above/all-of-the-above. The creative cussing is great, but the adult-only childishness does almost seem to belong to that distant era.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Smarter crudity, of the very religious kind, can be had with In God We Trust by Winshluss. You might also enjoy The Bojeffries Saga by Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse.
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You can read more book reviews or buy 21st Century Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett, Alan Martin and others at Amazon.com.
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