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Book Review: Tank Girl: Armadillo!
Tripp J Crouse   |  

Tank Girl: Armadillo!Tank Girl: Armadillo!
…And a Bushel of Other Stories
Written by Alan C. Martin
Illustrations by Jamie Hewlett
Titan Books
Cover Price: $9.95; On-sale: Apr. 8, 2008

Tank Girl: Armadillo is a bashing prose edition of all those great Tank Girl comics written by Alan C. Martin and illustrated by acclaimed artist (and Gorillaz founding member) Jamie Hewlett. Armadillo delivers a steady stream of violence and intricately laced profanities with the devastation of a nuclear missile attack from up on high.

Here the rampant and different drawing styles used in the comics give way to a novel, or at least as close to a novel as Martin may muster. The book is frighteningly linear, a slight (note sarcasm) derivation from the original graphic novels, as the narrative chronicles the hijinks of Tank Girl and her rag-tag band of fellow miscreants — fans of the comic will easily recognize the names of Booga, Jet Girl, and Sub Girl — as they plot and scheme their next mayhem-ensuing caper.

The depth at which Martin explores his title character transcends what he’s able to convey in the graphic novels, the prose exposition bearing much more weight than mere caption boxes, but the author’s witty choices of dialogue in Armadillo match up pound-for-pound with any discourse previously printed.

While Tank Girl makes her first full-length novel appearance, she’s been around for several years: first as in several graphic novels (many of them drawn by Hewlett) and later in a movie, starring Lori Petty as the title character. Unfortunately those previous incarnations jettison much of the rich history Tank Girl has, as well as much of the inner-thought processes, that Martin’s prose musters without losing much in the translation. The author deftly transitions from writing the comic book scripts into the “real world” of fiction writing, and Armadillo reads like Tank Girl should.

She brandishes swear words like a double-edged battle ax and with a sailor’s penchant. The first-person narrative evokes the character’s every thought even down to the mental hiccups the heroine occasionally has, all without missing the essential things that make Tank Girl such an interesting character.

True, Hewlett’s amazing artwork is nowhere to be seen outside of the book’s cover, but Martin summons such vivid images to mind that the reader can easily see the hyper-violent action without the aid of saucy pictures “¦ and in fact the novel works in such a way as to display Martin’s writing skills at their core, without pretty pictures to distract you from his artistry.

Armadillo is a novel per se, but also includes several poems, a soundtrack list, and a few scripts written by Martin centered around Tank Girl characters. It’s really a nice change of pace (and we’d hate for Martin to completely conform to writing just another novel). The short chapters actually resemble many of the Tank Girl shorts in the graphic novels, and the main narrative isn’t all that long, so it makes for an incredibly short read. There’s plenty of other things in the book to entertain, too.

Fans of Tank Girl will no doubt enjoy the book, but TG neophytes may not completely understand what’s going on. Martin doesn’t do enough setting the stage for the novel, like the graphic novels do. Things are mentioned in brief, if at all, and the reader’s left to pick up the pieces. He offers great character studies for Tank Girl, and some minor embellishments for Jet Girl and Booga, but not nearly enough to keep new readers in the know. The setting and the time period are constantly vague, Martin will reference pop culture tidbits from bygone eras as quickly as he’ll name drop the Matrix movie or The Smiths.


  1. Gotta love Tank Girl.
    Did not know about this one.
    Great review. Looking forward to reading it.

    Comment by Jerry — April 9, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

  2. I just finished the book only a few hours ago and I must say was a phenomenal read. Not a single dull moment. The first chapter, I feel, could have been better but Mr. Martin certainly picked up the slack with every chapter afterward. I would strongly recommend this book. Loved it.

    Comment by Nico — August 31, 2008 @ 12:41 am

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