The Bogie Man
by John Wagner and Alan Grant
A hard-boiled detective stalks the streets of Glasgow, searching for a legendary treasure while dodging the minions of his nemesis, the Fat Man. At least, that’s what Bogie will tell you if you ask. In truth, “Bogie” is Francis Forbes Clunie, an escapee from the local lunatic asylum. Bogie bends the world around him to suit the detective noir fantasies in his head, living his life as if he’s the star in a Humphrey Bogart movie. No one is safe from his delusions, in which an innocent bystander becomes an agent of the Fat Man and a diner waitress his silver screen siren, and the only way to stop him is to capture him and bring him back to the nuthouse before Bogie brings his story to a violent finale.
A parody and an homage to films like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, the writers’ love of Humphrey Bogart shines in the hard-boiled dialogue cooked up by Bogie. He’s an interesting character – a hero in his own mind, but rather difficult to like, because he goes through life making a mess for other people. An overweight man guilty only of patronizing the wrong diner is kidnapped, beaten and tortured after getting caught up in one of Bogie’s schemes.
The stories are pretty funny, though. Funny, but very strange. The “Maltese Falcon” Bogie hunts for in the first story is a frozen turkey, one of many being sold on the black market after a bungled attempt to steal more valuable cargo by two thugs employed by the owner of McCurdie’s Coaches, a bus rental yard. In another chapter, a Chinese woman is mistaken for a “dragon lady” and pursued by Bogie as she tries to work up the courage to tell her father that she wants to break off an arranged engagement. Bogie’s interference makes a mess of things.
The contrast between Bogie’s Hollywood detective speech and the Scottish slang used by the residents of Glasgow is striking; as one unfamiliar with Glasgow patois it was sometimes tricky to understand exactly what characters were saying, but usually I could puzzle it out.
For sheer weirdness, it’s hard to beat this story. The black-and-white art definitely makes me think of those old Bogart movies and the vintage comic books of earlier generations. (I don’t know if the stories were originally published like this, though, or if the color was removed from the graphic novel edition.) It’s an older book, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to track down a used copy.
3 out of 5 stars
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Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: Samurai Awakening by Benjamin Martin
2012: A Self-Published Author’s $2 Million Dollar Cinderella Story
2011: Closing down for end of year Festivus…
2010: Sticklers, Sideburns & Bikinis by Graeme Donald
2009: Discussion Question: Buying Textbooks