Upon Witnessmg A Bullfrog Fucking A Rock'). But with more myopic frogs than numeraphobics.

One piece abOLit Jim Dodge liberating a dog's testicles; his brother's. that is his brother's dog's not . . . from a plug hole is a funny as funny can be without causing a conniption. There's death by semi- colon. 60s heads gunning their zimmers for Washington. and mating donkeys and onions. One particular favourite is 'Three Ways To Get The Carrot On The Stick': 'A sudden magnificent leap/Eliminate hunger/Break the stick'.

Yes. life can be ‘as random as a lizard in the soup' but stick around and the bear necessities of life will come to you.

(Rodger Evans)


Barney Thomson & The Face Of Death (Long Midnight 57.4.99) 0...

Dowth Linin

A barman who drinks his own pish. An American cop who keeps reminding everyone of her Scottish heritage. A barber. his assistant Igor and a lesbian-granny- porno—loving-minister.

Just a few of the bizarre characters in this darkly comic macabre thriller. the fourth instalment of the Barney Thomson murder mysteries. Barney is the perpetual eccentric loner Miss Marple Without a clue —‘ who walks into this maelstrom of blood and bad hair in the small town of Strathpeffer near lnverness.

Once again. Douglas Lindsay proves that the best things come in small packages. This 78—page novella is funny. fast and furious and

displays a grasp of both the parameters of dark humour while totally succeeding as a slick spoof horror drawing the reader into its strange enVironment Willi considerable ease. Wzthout a doubt. a tiny Highland gem.

(Paul Dale)



Off Duty (New English Library 5.76.99) 0.00

‘Icvflflc...acmstautmoldam Mmmalamnlanmbackbal dwmpfim'Jmefl

To the uninitiated. Victor Headley is the Jamaican born writer of a superb string of crime novels that entranced the UK in the late 80s. early 90s and made a bucket of cash for the black publishing house The X Press. Telling the story of a clever if Vicious London Yardie. the books were intimate. pulpy. delicious reading but then Headley disappeared to the Congo for a decade.

This welcome return is the story of a deep relationship between two police officers from West Kingston. Fifteen years after they first meet. Rico is gunned down on his wedding day in London and Carlton vows to find the killer. But the bloody trail leads him back to the gang ties of his youth and into a wall of corruption from his Met colleagues.

Off Duty is a witty. compelling thriller that never lets up. Despite the long lay—off. Headley has clearly lost none of his unique. defiant voice. (Paul Dale)


STEVE STRANGE Blitzed! The Autobiography (Orion “(3.99) 0.0

In the early 80s Steve Strange could do no wrong. The self—styled pioneer of the New





Romantic movement founded London's legendary Blit/ club (where Boy George was cloakroom attendant). fronted electro—popsters Visage (With Midge Ure) and was in much demand as a party organiser to the rich and famous. All the while. poncing around caked in make-up and wearing ludicrous clothes.

lnevnably. it all went pear-shamed. The non— stop hedonistic lifestyle rapidly took its toll and Strange was left penniless and addicted to heroin. A harrowing nervous breakdown followed. in the midst of which he returned to the limelight for shoplifting a Teletubby doll. Ama/ingly. Strange was recently given a clean bill of health, and admits he is very lucky to be alive.

B/i't/ed.’ is an entertaining account of an extraordinary life. and one suspects that the likeable. erstwhile poseur still has a few (ladies and (.lumb-as-a- surprises left up his bag-of-hammers thugs. once-frilly sleeve. it‘s also a nightmare (Scott Montgomery) FreaksVille where mutants. tin can robots and zombies line the streets and the all night bars.

In the first strip. 'Robot Love' from when way back when was called 1982. El Borbah is hired by a pair of distraught- as-they-arestraight- laced parents to find their wayward son.

El Borbah on the case


El Borbah & Big Baby (Fantagraphicsl .000

Turns out the boy's been hanging out in robot nightclubs. In fact. he's half way to transforming himself into a machine. to which the tough guys reaction is ‘Jumpin' Jesus' (this curse is elsewhere expanded to the marvelloust offensive ‘Christ on a creepin' cross' and other derogatory derivatives). With the cyber boy delivered safely home the smart- mouthed El Borbah reminds the parents for payment for services rendered or: ‘l'll be back with a can opener'.

By 1986 Burns' had moved from surreal crime stories to surreal teen tales laced With science fiction paranoia. With the creation of Tony Delmonto. aka Big Baby. Burns published his first stand-alone (32— page comic. Curse Of The Mole/hen. That. plus other Big Baby tales. are collected in another handsome hardback edition.

Burns keeps things deliberately ambiguous With his self-confessed childhood alter-ego. In 'Teen Plague'. for example. you're never sure whether small town America's teenagers are being infected. Invasion

Charles Burns‘ beans are not of the cool variety. Nope. Burns' beans are of the Mexican jumping type that's right. cra/y beans. Take El Borbah. a handsome hardback collection of Burns' first attempts at longer serialised strips (until the early 1980s his beans were one—page tales). El Borbah is a slea/y private eye who dresses like a masked Mexican wrestler and works out of somewhere that looks like 1950s Los Angeles. Although this noir-ish world is populated with the familiar lemme fatales. weak—Willed sugar

Of The Body Snatchers— style. by an retina on legs named The Hypnotic Eye of the Almighty Kaballa-Bonga. or whether Delmonto's just a crazy kid. It's a bit Suspicious that the invasion nightmare coincides with the arrival of Delmonto's babysitters boyfriend. who seems to be infected with some hideous venereal disease.

Burns' stories lend themselves to plenty of scrutiny of social and psychological subtext (no doubt he wants to undermine the American dream and fuck his mother's dog). but the writer-artist keeps his tales low key. The artwork. too. is simple. bold black and white inkwork which is very evocative of the film and comic genres Burns plunders.

Until. of course. you come across an image of a mutant with a penis growmg out of its head. which Big Baby cuts off with a penknife. Repeat: ci‘a/y beans.

(Miles Fielder)


Adele Parks Larger Than Life (Penguin 5.6.99) More bestselling relationship fodder. John Burnside The Light Trap (Jonathan Cape 5T8) Intimate poems about the interior and exterior enVironments.

Lauren Henderson My [.urid Past ( Time Warner $33.99) 'Saucy' comedy set in food PR-land. Mercedes Deambrosis Mi/g igrt )sa (Dr )( la/i Is V8.99) Fictional take on some nasty Spanish bourgeoisie.

Michael Kerrigan ed To Be Or Not To Be

(Per igi Ill) 5‘53. 99) Soliloguies to celebrate Will Shakespeare's 4(382h birthday.

Edinburgh-based Malcy Duff 5 self-published book, Iona

390,." THE LIST 115

" 1’5» Apr