Tank Girl. Illustrated by Jim Mahfood and written by Alan Martin, 2013. Fair use rationale.

Tank Girl, created by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin, is an extreme character who challenges previously established notions of femininity. Representative of the punk scene, Tank Girl is definitely extreme in her portrayal. Though her hairstyle regularly changes, sometimes from page to page‚ she has been known to have a shaved head or a mohawk, and often wears combat boots and a very skimpy bikini‚ impractical for the setting.

In this image (from Jim Mahfood’s work in Everybody Loves Tank Girl), she is shown in more clothes than she usually gets to wear. Her combat boots, pants, and blazer with tie suggest she is either taking on a masculine persona or is meant to make her appear more authoritative. Yet her breasts are still prominent, suggesting that either the blazer is too small or that her breasts are larger than average, hinting at the tendency to over sexualize female comic book characters. Given the text in this image, where she introduces herself and seeks to set herself apart from shows that she is associated with, we can probably assume she is seeking to be seen as more of an authority figure, hence she has given up any notion of femininity.

Extreme in more than just her looks, Tank Girl’s background and actions are also designed to shock. Her first words were ‘Cauliflower Penis,’ and she has smoked profusely since childhood. She joined the army in her teens, eventually stealing (and modifying) the tank they gave her and becoming an outlaw. Her boyfriend is a mutant kangaroo, and she is sexually promiscuous and swears extensively.

Even in this image, her background is designed to shock. The tank behind her is unlike most tanks, a strange amalgamation of weaponry decorated with bones, flames, and other symbols typically denoting violence, death, or masculinity. Some of the quirky items near the top of the tank, however, allude to her being different than expected: a fishing pole, a bow and arrow, and various balloons.

Begun as a British comic strip in the late 1980s, Tank Girl expanded into comic books, graphic novels, and a movie. Tank Girl is set in the post-apocolyptic Australian outback, allowing for a surrealistic style of storytelling. Heavily influenced by the punk scene, her appearance and lack of clothing suggests that Tank Girl is intended for a male audience, though girls who are into the Punk scene also catered for. Much like Hit-Girl, Tank Girl seems designed to shock and draw a readership through controversial means.

Although Tank Girl is somewhat older than Hit-Girl, making things like her promiscuity, swearing, and propensity for violence less jarring, she is still a challenging character in both positive and negative ways. Though she is a sign of a growing inclusion of women into the punk scene, she is still written and drawn by men in an objectifying way.

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