El Borbah
Created by Charles Burns

Here he comes, 400 pounds of heavenly fun, in a Mexican wrestling mask, no less! Who says I don't listen to you guys?

I recently received this letter from Frank Patterson:


I love the Thrilling Detective site! I've been a frequent visitor since I stumbled upon it about a year ago.

However, one of the greatest comic book detectives of all time is not included on your site. I am referring to EL BORBAH.

El Borbah, if you aren't familiar with him, is a tough-talking, fat, masked wrestler who takes on detective jobs. His stories are a combination of the noir and the bizarre. In one tale he is trying to find a runaway kid for his parents -- the only clue is that the kid is into "robot music". When he finds the kid, it turns out he has joined a robot cult and has replaced his arms with robotic arms.

Well, how could I refuse? So I did some digging, and came up with a little more :

EL BORBAH weighs in at 400 pounds, and is indeed a private eye. A particularly grumpy and violence-prone private eye, mind you, who just happens to favour wrestler's tights and a mask. He storms through his cases, living on junk food and beer, kicking down doors, kicking ass and taking no guff from a varied assortment of freaks and geeks, each more bizarre than the last. In El Borbah's pulpish, purplish noir-tinged world, in fact, he's the "normal" one.

There were, as far as I know, only five stories, all in glorious black and white, that originally appeared in Heavy Metal and Art Spiegelman's Raw Comics in the eighties, but there have been a couple of collections of the stories since, the latest by Fantagraphic Books.


  • "Are the El Borbah stories actually, you know, important? Hell no. This is Burns pop recycling at his manic and hysterical best. For all his later work, it's sometimes easy to forget that Burns is, you know, a really funny guy. And never has this been more on display as through El Borbah's adventures, vague detective tales where our hardboiled antihero is a misanthrope in a Mexican wrestling outfit, unraveling mysteries with equal doses of contempt and fisticuffs, like every weird television moment of the fifties and sixties exploding onto a page. El Borbah is a giant book with beautiful stuff inside. Well worth it at twice the price."

-- Matt Fraction at www.artbomb.net

  • "El Borbah is wonderfully perverse."

-- Village Voice Literary Supplement


  • "Robot Love" (January 1983, Heavy Metal)
  • "Dead Meet" (August 1983, Heavy Metal)
  • "Living in the Ice Age (Part One)" (March 1984, Heavy Metal)
  • "Living in the Ice Age (Part Two)" (April 1984, Heavy Metal)
  • "Living in the Ice Age (Part Three)" (May 1984, Heavy Metal)
  • "Living in the Ice Age (Part Four)" (June 1984, Heavy Metal)
  • "Bone Voyage (Part One)" (January 1985, Heavy Metal)
  • "Bone Voyage (Part Two)" (February 1985, Heavy Metal)
  • "Bone Voyage (Part Three)" (March 1985, Heavy Metal)
  • "Bone Voyage (Part Four)" (April 1985, Heavy Metal)
  • "Bone Voyage (Part Five)" (May 1985, Heavy Metal)
  • "Love in Vein" (1988, Hard-Boiled Defective Stories)
  • "Epilogue" (1999, El Borbah)


Collects all five stories.

Reprints Hard-Boiled Defective Stories, adds an epilogue.


To find out more on El Borbah, head here and click on Charles Burns. He is the creator of El Borbah.

Mexican Eyes

Respectfully submitted by Frank Patterson, with additional info by Kevin Burton Smith.

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