Discover more from Rock and Roll Art School
33 years ago we made Tank Girl jump a Raleigh Chopper bike over Stonehenge. You're welcome.
Hewlett & Martin's "Tank Girl: Summer Love Sensation" 33 1/3 Anniversary Edition, Booga's Treehouse Club, and incoming movie news
In the dreary spring of 1990, Jamie Hewlett, Glyn Dillon, and myself happened upon a second-hand cycle shop at the end of Goring Road in West Worthing. One bike on display amongst the racks out the front of the shop attracted our attention - a red MKI Raleigh Chopper bike - the iconic, pre-teen’s bicycle of 1970’s Britain.
“How much do you want for the Chopper?” we asked the shop owner.
“Oh, I dunno, we’ve had that for years, can’t shift the damn thing,” he replied, “thirty quid sound reasonable?”
Jamie’s whipped out his wallet in an instant, and three crisp tenners were slapped in the bloke’s palm. “Done.”
“I’ve got some more out the back,” said the shopkeeper, “if you’re interested.”
“If we’re interested?”
Ten minutes later we were all proud Chopper owners. Jamie bought a second one in red (this time a MKII), Glyn bagged a MKII in the purple Ultra Violet livery, and I grabbed an almost immaculate Infra Red MKII. Thirty quid each.
All three of us had wanted Choppers when we were kids, but none of us had had one. We were all stupidly excited, and rode them up and down Worthing Promenade like some kind of overgrown Red Hand Gang.
At this point in time we were all big fans of the 1969 movie Easy Rider, and in some strange way, we imagined ourselves riding across the states on Harley Davidson choppers, just like Billy and Captain America in the movie. It was daft, but we thought it was hilariously funny.
Along with a couple of other friends, Glyn and I took our Choppers to Sidmouth Folk Festival in Devon that year. On the way back we had to change trains at Salisbury, so we decided it would be a good idea to cycle from Salisbury Railway station to Stonehenge (surely they’re right next to each other, right?). A group of grown men, riding what were essentially children’s bicycles, uphill across Salisbury Plain for over ten miles on a baking hot summer’s day, with no water or provisions (besides a blim of Red Leb, some Golden Virginia, and a packet of skins), with the Easy Rider soundtrack blaring out of two tiny speakers (wired to a cassette walkman) on the back of my bike. It was hard work. We were knackered when we arrived at the Henge, and attempted to refresh ourselves by rolling a joint in the carpark. We were chased away by a bobby and freewheeled all the way back to Salisbury, where we discovered we had missed our train and had to sleep in a field next to a sewage works.
Of course, as with all of our stupid adventures at that time, this tale became the basis of a comic strip story, and Tank Girl found herself headed to England, where she dealt with the UK constabulary in her own way - by jumping her Raleigh Chopper bike, topless, over Stonehenge.
Raleigh Choppers are now highly collectable, selling for thousands of pounds, and Raleigh have released a MKIV this year, which replicates the classic MKII that we rode around Worthing in 1990. My bike was stolen from outside of J.B.’s Bar in New Street, Worthing, and I often wonder what happened to it; I hope it’s had a groovy life.
The release of the MKIV prompted me to revisit the story of Tank Girl on a Chopper, and gave me the idea of compiling the four-and-a-bit strips into their own, stand-alone comic. So that’s what we’ve done, and a very nice comic it is too. The artwork we’ve used features Sofie Dodgson’s excellent additional colour work, and we’ve added some photos of Jamie on his Chopper on Worthing Beach from the summer of 1990.
In the pack with the comic we have included the Infra Red Booga “Chopper” stickers (see above), and Booga’s Treehouse Club badge/button and membership cards (featuring the artwork used in the comic strip).
This is a limited edition of 200 copies and is only available directly from us, so if you like this kind of lunacy, make sure you bag your copy soon.
In other news, I have acquired a (frankly bizarre) document which relates to Margot Robbie’s production company’s intentions for the future of Tank Girl on screen. It’s a fucking trip, man. I have some things to say about it, so it’ll have its own newsletter in the very near future.
Hope your summer isn’t a bummer.