English comics' hip Tank Girl may leave most Yanks yawning

March 31, 1995|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

When word went out that the next cartoon character destined for the big screen was Tank Girl, comics fans across the country turned excitedly and said, "Who?"

To say that Tank Girl lacks the name-recognition of Superman, Batman or the Punisher would be understating it considerably. Even compared with fellow English comics sensation Judge Dredd, Tank Girl has never had much of a profile or following on this side of the Atlantic. So why has Hollywood plowed so much money and hype into promoting her?

Two reasons. First of all, even though it has never been especially popular over here, Tank Girl has always been considered very hip. In addition to the usual smart-talk and violence, the typical Tank Girl story line usually includes plenty of sly jokes about English pop culture -- particularly the latest in fashionable bands, clothes and drugs. (Not surprisingly, Tank Girl's long-time English berth is the music-and-comics magazine Deadline.)

Secondly, Tank Girl is not a typical superhero. Even though the comic takes pains to stress her feminine endowments, it avoids the spandex-clad exaggeration of standard-issue superheroines. Moreover, Tank Girl's tough-talking, brook-no-nonsense attitude comes across as a sort of male-fantasy version of the riot grrrl aesthetic. No doubt all that translated in Hollywood as "She'll appeal to women, too."

Whether "Tank Girl" makes it on America's movie screens remains to be seen. But the comic is simply too arcane, in-jokey and nonlinear to mean much to any but professional Anglophiles.

So go back to your X-Men, America. You're not missing much.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.