is nothing offensive or outrageous about The Tar Factory; it is just mind-numbineg tedious. thoroughly predictable and shambolic in its construction. The story. such as it is. revolves around the Crazy Gang. a team of men who lay tar on the roads. And that's it. There‘s lots of l shagging. drinking,

talking shite and the odd j

bit of violence. all of which amounts to absolutely nothing. Lame.

(Doug Johnstone)




(Fantagraphics) 00

This debut English

language collection of


Darien Dogs (Jonathan Cape) CO.


Henry Shukman is a successful travel writer and there are obvious elements of the Lonely Planet world-travelling ethos echoing down through this novella and four shon stories. Sadly. the wealth of description of exotic locations tends to detract from the tales here. most noticeably in the title novella. a slight story of a businessman going native in the islands of Panama. which goes precisely nowhere.

The short stories work a lot better, Shukman displaying a skill with muscular. minimalist prose and creating atmosphere and character with a few well-chosen sentences. There is an element of desperation to his characters though. from the ageing artist of 'Old Providence' to the illegal Czech immigrant on the run in the US in “Road Movie'. the best tale here. This is a mixed bag. then. and one that definitely shows promise. but Shukman needs to focus a tad more to turn that promise into reality. (Doug Johnstone)

92 THE LIST 8—22 Jul 2004

- strips by premiere Mexican cartoonist Jose

Ignacio Solorzano (hence the name Jis) doesn't

translate well. In ‘My

Girlfriend's Childhood' a girl is struck by lightening

5 and turns into a dog. A

man buys her from the

. doghouse. They have sex and are struck by

another lightening bolt. curing her and turning him into a cat. a rat and a crocodile.

Hmm. Maybe the problem here is cultural difference. or perhaps the psychedelic art (the strips are loaded with bodies metamorphosing, interstellar activity and. of course. sex). With its nightmare trips and blissed-out ones. this reads like a bad

hangover from some late

19608 underground

comix. (Miles Fielder)



(Dark Horse) 00.


One for the geeks. as

self-confessed geek

filmmaker Guillermo del Toro says of this book of the film's pre-production art. shooting script and stOryboards. But beyond

the ‘must have'

attraction for Hellboy

completists. The Art of

the Movie documents in a fairly detailed way the translation of Mike

' Mignola's much-loved superhero/horror comic

are riddled with footnotes v - re light and colour. sets and locations. props and

Brian Michael Bendis

from page to screen. The artwork and script

wardrobe by del Toro. Mignola (very much involved from the outset) and the film's three

. principal designers. Of interest to those curious

about the process of film adaptation. from the art department's point of view. (Miles Fielder)



Tom DeFalco (ed)

This collection of interviews with Spidey creators including Stan Lee. Todd McFarlane and

gives a host of insights into Marvel's most famous character. Alongside reprinted cover

' art. pencil sketches and

pages from scripts. they riff on the pressures. process and pleasures of writing or illustrating one of the most intriguing characters of the medium. exploring just what it is that makes Spider-Man such a well loved comic property. The pleasure of these men who grew up with

the character and are honoured to be

associated with the webslinger is endearing. and palpable in their words. Full of insights which will delight obsessives. and with just



‘ch ‘0’." St; ‘D‘NH, FAfl‘I '


enough box-outs giving

information on important characters or story arcs

to educate casual fans

on over 40 years of

I continuity. this is a timely - and entertaining release. (Dave Martin)




Goscinny & Uderzo

; (Orion) oooo

Nun'ij lull

t. a

The Asterix books. products of post-war France revolving around a Gaulish village's

; resistance to the Roman 6 Empire. now seem a little quaint. The formulas are simple (almost every

book starts with a crisis. has the protagonists encountering some pirates and ends with Cacofonix under a tree with a boar on the table). The humour is occasionally

reminiscent of ‘A/lo ‘A/lo

and the last few (post- Goscinny) books lack the zip of the early volumes. Yet these two stories (part of a series of reissues) perfectly illustrate the series' tremendous strengths. The punning names (Mykingdomforanos. Cassius Ceramix) are brilliant. the dialogue is superb. the sketches sharply detailed and vibrantly coloured and the overall atmosphere is one of enormous fun. At once reassuring and sly. the Asterix books remain a yardstick for children's literature and comic books: occasionally

equalled and rarely


(James Smart)

' ‘A’TV’? a, \fi RA" ‘Afl‘t‘f

Getafix overdoses on menhir






This Is Hope

(b-unique) one

My. aluminum. 3.815”

A title inspired by a painting by New York artist Mediaeater, songs about Dr David Kelly and

human cloning and numerous shout outs to the Hebrides; welcome

back. Mr Maclntyre. it hasn‘t been the same without you.

His third album is cut

from the same cloth as

its predecessors quirky

melodies and a poignant

and idiosyncratic lyrical take on the world - but

as the title suggests.

. there's a more optimistic i thread running

throughout. From the

infectiously jaunty ‘Tobermory Zoo‘ to the

reflective hope of 'In the Next Life (A Requiem). this is the mark of an artist reaching full stride. (Emma Newlands)


3 Flashlight Sessions

. (Warp) 000

Picked up by Warp

' Records after a quiet

release last year on West Country indie

. Silent Age. Nick

‘Gravenhurst' Talbot‘s second album sees the

Bristolian strumming his

way through a series of

i engrossing songs. his fragile falsetto drifting through a lo-fi mix of

humming synths and sparse guitars. Some of it is a little too

drab. but tracks like

opener 'Tunnels'. the

I. ultra-delicate 'I Turn My

Face to the Forest Floor'

: and the haunting ‘Diver'

reveal a keen ear for a tune and an impressive knack for otherworldly lyrics. This is fine music

for deep introspection ' and dark rooms: just

don't expect Flashlight

Sessions to rock a party.

(James Smart)


, Dialogue


To call this record a 5 pleasantly relaxing lifestyle album might

sound like damning with faint praise. but there are

few other apprOpriate

descriptions for this debut. A joint venture between Icelandic songstress Thorun Magnusdottir and the less glamorous sounding/looking Wayne Murray from Hackney. the duo may have met in a pub. but its style bars and trendy haunts in general that look set to emerge as Dialogue‘s Spiritual home.

The promisineg edgy

Mazzy Star-style single ‘Passive Aggressive'

soon yields to a poppier Cardigans-style sound. before turning downright

lmbruglia-esque. and

hinting that the mainstream may be asking for a word shortly. (Emma Newlands)

INDIE POP DOGS DIE IN HOT CARS Please Describe Yourself

(V2) 0000

DDlHC's debut album is one of those records that y0u find yourself liking. despite yourself. For listeners of a certain age. the Glasgow—based band‘s SOLlnd is startlingly familiar (Dexy's. XTC. Talking Heads). but while they wear those influences on their sleeves. there is so much energy and