Journalists

May 29, 2013

SOLID STATE TANK GIRL: A Talk with Alan Martin & Warwick Johnson-Cadwell

Solid-State-Tank-Girl-CoverSolid State Tank Girl is the newest entry in the long line of Tank Girl stories, written by the series creator Alan Martin and illustrated by W Johson-Cadwell.  It’s being put out by TITAN Comics.  This fantastic new entry is set to become available May 22nd, so be sure to pick up a copy at your comic book shop, book store, or wherever you happen to shop for your comics.

Thanks to Ricky Claydon, the Marketing Manager over at Titan Magazines (part of Titan Publishing Group & Titan Books), I got to talk to Alan and Warwick about Solid State Tank Girl, and, well, generally anything else.  All in all, it was pretty cool.

R: Hi gents, I’d like to introduce you to Aaron from Comicattack.net.  Aaron would like to interview you both about Solid State Tank Girl.  Over to you Aaron…

AN: Hello all, and thank you for the intro there, Ricky.  Hello, hello to both Alan Martin and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell!  My name is Aaron.  Alan, you might remember me from when I spoke to you on the Tank Girl Facebook about my review of Tank Girl: Carioca.  Let’s jump into it, shall we?
Alan, you got your first taste of Jamie Hewlett (co-creator of Tank Girl) in 1986 at Worthing Art College.  You two were collaborating on a comic/magazine called Atom Tan.
Can you talk a bit about that?  What it was like back then, at the beginning of a burgeoning career?  Meeting Jamie?  Working on Atom Tan?

AM: At the time, I had no idea that it was a burgeoning career. Everything we did was done to make our friends laugh. We were thinking small and didn’t care what the world outside of our college would think. I’d already been at Worthing art college for three years when I met Jamie; Phil (Bond – another world class comic artist) and I had been friends since math lessons at high school, and it was him that introduced me to Jamie. It only took moments before we all realised that we were destined to be together. Atom Tan was a fanzine that was waiting to happen – Jamie’s stories, Phil’s stories, my stupid ideas.

AN: Brett Ewins and Steve Dillon (who used to work on 2000 AD) started Deadline (British comic magazine published from ’88 to ’95), which can be seen as a sort of spin-off or spiritual successor to 2000 ADThat’s where Tank Girl got her start.  What was it like creating her? What can you tell us about her inception/creation, the creative process?  What inspired you?

AM: Brett came to our college to give a lecture on the world of comics, and we bombarded him afterwards with questions and copies of Atom Tan. A year later he came back to us and asked me and Jamie to expand upon a one page drawing in the first issue of the fanzine – that was Tank Girl in her very first incarnation. So we went away and started writing the first script. Inspiration-wise, everything went into the pot; all the artists that Jamie was into at the time – Brendan McCarthy, Brett, Mick McMahon, Mort Drucker – and a ton of eighties pop culture and music references.

AN: Tank Girl, the movie…I know you’ve spoken out about/against the film in the past, calling it “a bit of a sore point.”  Now, if you haven’t blocked it all from memory, is there an interesting anecdote to share about your experience with the film?

AM: Our original suggestion to play the character of Booga was Crispin Glover, which obviously didn’t happen. None of our references to (BBC school drama) Grange Hill were included in the script. And we were very disappointed that there was no CUD or Senseless Things included in the soundtrack.

AN: Since re-launching the character in 2007, there have been about 10 Tank Girl stories to come out, at least half a dozen of which all happened around 2010.  That’s a lot of Tank Girl.  So, my question is, what do you do in what spare time you have?  What’s going on with you when you’re not hammering out another Tank Girl tale?

AM: I’m looking after my kids while my wife is at work, or I’m trying to sleep.

AN: Being a creator of comics yourself, do you read many comics?  If so, what are some of your favorites?  Favorite books?  Favorite characters?

AM: I’ve never been a big comic reader. Most of the stuff I’m into at the moment is through my son; The Phoenix Comic from David Fickling’s company is fantastic, and we’re very partial to Matt Smith as Dr Who. At the end of the day, I read Kurt Vonnegut, if I can keep my eyes open.

AN: I’ve read that you’ve played in various bands, but not much else on the subject.  So, what instruments do you play?  What sort of music do you like (to play, to listen to)?

AM: I almost exclusively play the ukulele right now, I have several, scattered around the house. I’m working on nailing a few Chas and Dave tunes.

AN: What sort of projects do you have on your plate, planned for after you finish your work on Solid State Tank Girl?

AM: I’ve just had a meeting with Titan discussing two more Tank Girl books after this one, so Tank Girl will be ongoing for the foreseeable. I have a few non-TG projects on the boil, including a kid’s comic, and I’m slowly getting something together with Jamie.

AN: So, Warwick, what was your level of familiarity with Alan (or Tank Girl) before working on this project?  How did you get this gig?  What was that whole experience like?

WC: I’ve read Tank Girl since it came out in Deadline and I love it. I also went to Worthing Art College but a few years after Alan and Jamie and knew of them only as *whispered* ‘those guys went to college here’. Getting the gig was exciting and intermittent. Alan got in touch a couple of years ago, introducing himself and complimenting my work, which I was very happy to hear. Last year, there was a ‘call for artists’ on the Tank Girl Facebook I stuck my hand up along with many other folk (very happily saw a bunch supporting my waving arm) and we went from there. As soon as Alan got back in touch I spent the rest of a rainy camping holiday drawing Tank Girl and the gang in a flooded tent and camera phoning pictures to him. I am dead happy to get the gig.

AN: Your work on Gungle (still not sure how to pronounce it) was unlike any artwork I’ve ever seen.  And seeing your renditions of characters like Tintin, Dr. Strange, or Batgirl, it continues to amaze me.  What can you tell me about your rather unique drawing style?  When/why did you start drawing?  What artists do you draw inspiration from?

WC: Easy answer first Gungle is pronounced however you prefer. It was spelled with a ‘G’ because like the jungle it features, it’s just not right. Now I like the hard G and soft G sound. My style comes from me trying to copy the artists I draw inspiration from (which is all of them) so I think there are a lot of familiar elements in there (Name check Mike Mignola, Mick McMahon, Richard Scarry, Jack Kirby, Herge and Jamie Hewlett).

AN: Random bit of gushing: When looking at more of your art (as mentioned above) I’d feel remiss if I didn’t say just how much I enjoyed your take on Shaggy, Velma, and Scooby, The Thing’s MacReady, and The Punisher. 

WC: Why thank you.

AN: I’ve read that in addition to narrative art, you’ve done a bit of work as a storyboard artist.  Which projects have you done storyboards for?  What are your feelings on Storyboarding?  Is it similar/dissimilar to sequential art, for you?

WC: A little for Chicken Run and some commercials with Aardman, a few independent (student) films and some TV work. It IS sequential art but in a fixed frame. Also you can’t make up perspective and anatomy to fit but then the challenge is to work within the constrictions, which produces new ideas.

AN: When you’re not cranking out new pieces of artwork, what do you like to do?  What sort of hobbies do you have?

WC: Drawing.

AN: So, Dangeritis … I’m really diggin’ it.  I love what I’ve seen so far, and can’t wait to get my own copy of Dangeritis: A Fistful of Danger.  What’s it like collaborating with Robert Ball?  Do you find that you prefer working on web-based material/comics more or less than traditional print work?  How are the experiences similar or different?  Also, who came up with Derek Danger?  Was that your creation or Rob’s?  What was the idea/impetus behind this quirky James Bond-esque spoof character?

WC: Rob and I where doing a lot of chatting about comics, we thought we’d get the ideas down. We had less of a plan to make a character and write a story and more of an idea that we just wanted to bounce comic/ narrative ideas and gags off each other. Derek was originally just some guy that we would rescue from peril at the top of one page, put back in peril at the bottom then hand over to each other. We thought we could do it warts and all online, publicly trying ideas and gags and processes and see if people joined in. It’s turned out to be pretty popular and we are doing more actual pages and less messing about.

AN: If given the chance would you ever consider a Derek Danger/Tank Girl cross-over?

WC: Yes, also fingers crossed Derek will be in the next Star Wars episodes, Disney movie and 3rd Avengers sequel.

AN: What’s up on your schedule for the future?  Do you have any projects you’ve got lined up?  Any projects you’d like to get on board with?

WC: My schedule a disorganised shitpile. I’d LOVE to do more Tank Girl, I NEED to finish Gungle and Hunch Parsons and will be continuing with Dangeritis. I am hoping to finish all outstanding projects this year, and then see what’s next.

AN: Thanks very kindly.  And thanks very much for everything, Ricky.  I look forward to getting my hands on Solid State Tank Girl as soon as I can.  I’m honored to have been given the chance to speak with you both.

AC:  Many thanks.

_____________________________________________________

Thanks for reading everyone!  I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I enjoyed getting to do it.

Be sure to check out the official TANK GIRL page:
http://www.tank-girl.com/
And the official TANK GIRL FACEBOOK:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tank-Girl/15379302694
And Warwick’s site:

warwickjohnsoncadwell.blogspot.com

Aaron Nicewonger
aarongni@gmail.com
Aaron@comicattack.net

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