An Esteemed Colleague: How would you do it, Boogie?
Boogie: A bullet in the back. With a Magnum. Something classic.
- Name: Boogie
- AKA: "El Aceitoso" (The Oily One)
- Date of birth: 1972
- Place of birth: Hortensia magazine
- Place of residence: Unknown
- Parent or legal guardian: Roberto Fontanarrosa
- Marital status: Single
- Hobbies: Purchase of firearms, shooting at passer-bys from his apartment's windows
- Distinguishing features: Always has a cigarette on his lips
- Character he admires: Jack the Ripper
- Character he detests: The rest of humanity
- Remarks: Armed and dangerous
Boogie El Aceitoso is Argentine cartoonist Roberto Fontanarrosa's creation. First conceived when the Vietnam war was fresh in the mass unconscious of the world's peoples, Boogie is an extreme caricature of one impression the rest of the world gets from the United States. Since his birth in 1972 to the quiet retirement he faced in the late 90's, Boogie has participated in every major armed conflict that has involved the United States and is familiar with every imaginable form of inflicting pain on his fellow man (and oftentimes woman too). During peacetime, if it can so be called, for Boogie hates the word, Boogie is a professional assassin or a bodyguard, a mercenary. Occasionally, when his usual profession hits a slump, he will also accept other jobs such as babysitter (he'll give the kids plastic explosives for them to craft little animals) or romantic escort (you must understand that although he is a man, that lump you feel when slow dancing with him is in fact his revolver).
The format of the strips is unusual one for comic strips. Each story is quite long compared to other strips, six strips of two, three, or four panels each, a size usually reserved for Sunday formats on most other commercial strips. Fontanarrosa (a.k.a. El Negro) draws as crudely as his subject matter. Everyone is depicted in horribly disfigured proportions, Boogie himself looks more like a bulldog than a person. Another distinctive feature of Fontanarrosa's work is that unlike almost every other strip out there, Boogie aged, though no open acknowledgment is made of this. It's simply something that happened, in the same way that the drawing style of a strip evolves, so did the apparent age at which Boogie is drawn. He's seemingly in his mid twenties in the early 1970's, and by the mid 1990's Boogie gives the impression of being a fifty-something well-established assassin.
Boogie: Why can't you go out after dark, greaser?
Agonising Chicano with gunshot wound: Because they say that there's this Boogie guy
running around, esse. That he's a dangerous cabrón, they say.
Needless to say, the humour in the strips is very dark and as offensive as possible. Possibly due to the necessity of killing a good number of his characters in very violent ways, Fontanarrosa never uses a character more than once except for Boogie, who interacts with the world in the only way he knows. Boogie has no friends, no family, and seemingly no parents, for he hints several times that he either was an orphan or maybe even hated his parents enough to murder them. His alienation from the world is so complete ("All human affairs are alien to me, Marcy") that in many of the strips he is reduced to an observer of human drama and reserves his quips for the punchline. Boogie almost always kills openly in everyone's view yet remains forever out of the reach of any legality or morality. He kills for pleasure and for business. His professionalism is never marred by his terrible temper, but if he happens to not be engaged in a particular job, he will not hesitate to pull the trigger or break the nose of whoever happens to annoy him.
Boogie only respects the strong and the wealthy, and usually also only the white. Asians, Italians, blacks, latinos, homosexuals, women, all of them are an inferior class of persons in Boogie's eyes. There have been rare occasions when Boogie resisted his natural inclinations to abuse a "dirty nigger", but that was strictly business, because said gentleman of African descent happened to offer him a job for the right price after seeing him in action. He usually does not go out of his way to severely incovenience the peoples he despises (what a waste of ammo that would be!). Rather, whenever he has to deal with them because they cross his path, El Aceitoso swats them like the flies they are, with extreme prejudice. And, by the way, no. He cannot spare change. If you ask him, he might give you a primed grenade to play with, if he doesn't have the patience to get more personal.
French Waiter: Shall I open the champagne bottle, sir?
Boogie: Oh, no. You may let her do it. The lady is exploring the masculine world.
Women (and mysteriously, homosexuals too) have a special relationship with Boogie. Despite his extremely explosive nature and his fondness for beating women, he never seems to have any shortage of lovers. In several strips we get to explore his amourous relations. Women for him are something to be used and mostly an annoyance, unless they happen to be clients, in which case he treats them with the same professionalism reserved to anyone else who needs someone killed. Boogie's machismo and sexism is endless. He will demand that his many lovers cook for him, clean the house, offer sex, and he will beat them if any of these tasks aren't completed to his satisfaction (and sometimes even if they are properly done, because beating women is part of his satisfaction too).
Homosexuals are something that deeply disgusts Boogie, which leads many to speculate that there may be some sort of latent homosexuality in Boogie too. To be sure, he never misses an opportunity to express how much he loathes them, but seldom gives them the same treatment he would give to other categories of people he despises. It's as if he fears contagion through touch, or perhaps it is something else? Boogie has never uttered a word to contradict the accusations of homosexuality he sometimes hears; all he has offered by way of response sometimes is a blow to the stomach.
Boogie: That's why I insist on the effectiveness of chemical weapons, Barrie.
Their major impact isn't physical. It's psychological. The enemy feels like a cockroach.
War is something about which Boogie has many opinions. Boogie seems to have begun his career in the Vietnam War, and proceeded to fight in Korea Nicaragua, Colombia, Cuba, Iran, the Persian Gulf War (he was in retirement for the second one), and everywhere else were good ol' American muscle is needed. His involvement in wars has given him vast amounts of knowledge regarding how to kill other people. He believes in every war he's been to, not because of any idealistic and abstract principle like democracy, liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, but because he believes that the US needs to be strong or else risk being overrun by inferior people and ideas from the rest of the world. War is Boogie's natural habitat.
It seems that war has only toughened Boogie and made him stronger in turn. While almost all of his companions and fellow veterans from the Vietnam War seem to still have a twitch or two of post-traumatic stress disorder, Boogie doesn't flinch at anything. He remembers the hell of the southeast Asian jungles, and the similar hell in Central American swamps, but never expresses any fear or other weakness about them. He had to be there and what he did was right.
Psychic: Do you believe in parapsychology?
Boogie: I don't even believe in penicillin.
Boogie is a nihilist and believes in nothing except what he can punch, shoot, or maim. Boogie has no religion, no affiliations but to himself, lives for nothing but for money, gratification, and to defend his right to lob grenades through his neighbour's window in case something about his neighbour displeases him. He admires Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, and has been seen reading Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. His own moniker, "Boogie El Aceitoso" means "Boogie The Oily One", which can mean how slippery he is and always manages to live in perpetual immunity from the law, or more plausibly is a referrence to another character he admires, Dirty Harry.
After presenting this despicable character to you, why would I recommend that you read the strips? Because, as I said above, Boogie is an extreme caricature of an image the world gets from the United States, and in a broader sense, an extreme caricature of the violence, crime, poverty, and race relations. When being confronted with it, makes us ponder slightly what our own attitudes are like and if we have let them reach a level comparable to Boogie's. This, however, is probably a reading much too deep for what Fontanarrosa wants to present us.
On a lighter side, Boogie is a funny strip, in the same sense that Pulp Fiction has its funny moments when someone accidentally receives a bullet to the head. For all his horrible actions and opinions, Boogie is presented as a sympathetic character, and sometimes his inner logic makes a creepy kind of sense. To counter this, the strip Boogie El Aceitoso is such an extreme and implausible presentation of a character that would be undesirable under normal circumstances, especially with the constant freedom Boogie has to act without any sort of consequence, that we cannot help but laugh at such ridiculous portrayals of violence and racism. It would be utterly preposterous to think that Fontanarrosa is as sexist or bigoted as his creation is; indeed, he would be unable to present the sexism and bigotry as exaggerated as he does if couldn't recognise them for what they are. This is the true joy of reading Boogie's strips, and why their pitch-black humour can be appealing.
Unfortunately, I cannot find any English translations of Boogie El Aceitoso. All the quotes from the strips I put in this writeup are my own translations. Spanish anthologies are starting to appear, which is what I used for this noding, and I expect (hope?) that soon they will be translated into English in the same way that Mafalda, another Argentine strip, has been translated into English, albeit with limited distribution. Boogie is undoubtedly an English-speaker, for he usually greets with "Hello" or "Jelou" but not "Hola" and interjects phrases like "oh boy!", "shit" or "shet" into his ordinary Spanish discourse, and perhaps one of these days he'll be given the full English voice he only parodies right now with a Speedy Gonzales syndrome. Until then, it seems that the only alternative to fully enjoy the strip is to learn Spanish, I'm afraid.