ADULT COMICS PALOMAR: THE HEARTBREAK SOUP STORIES Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics) 00.00
When Gilbert Hernandez’ Palomar stories began to appear in the now legendary comic title, Love & Rockets (sharing pages with strips by brothers Jaime and Mario from issue two in 1982), no one had read anything like them. Set in the titular mythical Latin American village, Hernandez’ stories weave in and out of the lives of the heterogeneous population, focusing on those eternal themes - love and hate. Indeed, the very first story, ‘Heartbreak Soup’ (which the Palomar stories are also collectively known as) opens with a foxy woman beating up a fat, bald, lovesick
Women figure in a large way (in more than one sense) and very positively in Hernandez’s stories. The Palomar strips are bookended by the arrival in the village of Luba of a woman with a force of will to match her impressively proportioned chest. Setting up shop as a baﬁadora (bath giver), Luba becomes the maternal spirit of Palomar until she leaves 20 years later (when Hernandez discontinued the strip).
All of the Palomar stories are collected in this 500 plus page heavyweight coffee table format hardback. Densely plotted, richly imaginative and full of streetwise cynical humour, the strips are as fresh today as they were revolutionary in the early 19805. The writing is infused with the Latin magic realist tradition (it’s just as if Gabriel Garcia Marquez had decided to write a comic), the drawing styled after the Marvel Comics’ veteran pen men of the 19605 — Jack Fantastic Four Kirby and Steve Spider-Man Ditko - and the whole thing fuelled by the energy
of punk rock (back in the day Hernandez was big on the Los Angeles music scene).
When he started writing the Palomar stories there was nothing being published like it. Before the over- documented ‘growing up’ of comics later in the 19805 (Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, The Watchmen etc), the only alternative to mainstream, adolescent superhero titles was the adult- orientated ‘alternative comix’, of which genre Robert Crumb and his Zap Comics were the benchmark. But comix creators’ obsession with psychedelic drug culture and graphic, largely misogynistic sex had become a bad hangover of bygone time. Hernandez (and his brothers) heralded a new generation of post-alternative comix creators, of which we now take innovators like Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) and Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan) for granted.
Hernandez’ contribution to the coming-of-age of modern comics can’t be underestimated. Anyone interested in the medium really needs to read the Palomar stories. (Miles Fielder)
ROCK POP FRANZ FERDINAND Franz Ferdinand (Domino) 0...
There' something simple and addictive about Franz Ferdinand's music which extends past the more-ish lead single 'Take Me Out‘ into the majority of this. their debut long player.
They quite deliberately paint from a limited sonic palette but with the textures they trade in (rasping. twanging guitars. camp 80s new wave aesthetics and tongue-in-cheek lyrical sloganeering) they do so with confidence and verve. They also drive their musical golf cart well wide of any unnecessary indulgences like soporific balladry.
SOUL COUNTRY LAMBCHOP
Aw Cmon/No You Cmon
(City Slang) .00 IO.
pointless wig outs and any studio hocus pocus. and are all the better for it. Odds are they can expand, develop and grow and this is a pretty great starting point. (Mark Robertson)
HIP HOP BEANS
Now Soon Someday (Warp) .0”.
It‘s hard to find fault with Beans. the MC from New York's avant garde Anti Pop Consortium, newly re-invented and giving a razor sharp edge to a hip hop scene saturated by gangster posturing. feel good breaks and vacuous party beats.
Beans has no truck with any of that that. but he will still make you move. His rhymes are surreal but profound. His beats are simple but
fierce. His sound is raw but futuristic and his style is unique. Featuring awesome remixes from last year's new-star-on-the-block. Prefuse 73. and El P, this mini-album raises the production bar of last year's solo debut. Tomorrow Right Now, and pushes the hip hop envelope out into the cosmos. Quite Simply, Beans is the shit. (Andrew Richardson)
OWEN MCAULAY Semi-Detached (Sans-Culottes) 000
" . own n‘ “'03 ,5. t. .51; r A r in;
, x " 1" f f " semi—Janka ,
This Glasgow-born singer/songwriter has spent 17 years as part of local underground heroes Smackvan and he also happens to be a
successful social worker,
so it's quite staggering that he finds time to create these solo efforts at all.
_odeo to nowhere
For those who wondered and worried what Kurt Wagner and co had been up to since 2001’s Is a Woman, here is your answer: producing a double whammy which continues the trip eastwards to the point where post- alt.country joins the border of the democratic republic of lounge soul. But why release two albums on one day? Does it represent a musical or theoretical statement? Well, the answers may remain elusive when you consider that there is barely a nick of difference between the separate recordings and, depending on which one you play ﬁrst, chances are the second will be less pleasurable.
None of which is to say that the pair fail to move the ticker or toe. ‘Nothing But 3 Blur from a Bullet Train’ puts the lush in luscious while the arpeggio charms of ‘There is Still Time’ are abundant. But it’s the silly stuff that lets you, and the ‘Chops, down. The annoying airy nursery rhyme punctuation marks in ‘Each Time I Bring it Up it Seems to Bring You Down’ and the barmy barbers routine of ‘Women Help to Create the Kind of Men they Despise’ only serve to grate. Meanwhile, the piano may not have been drinking on the tedious sloth of the aptly named ‘The Problem’ but Kurt’s songwriting powers appear to be absolutely blootered.
On this evidence, Nixon won’t only go down in the records as a cheap crook, but as the man who helped Lambchop to their finest adventure in
Gilbert Hemandez’s revolutionary Palomar strip comes back as a heavyweight
stereo. (Brian Donaldson)
106 THE LIST 2'; 1%} l ml; 900/.