A SMALL PRESS CLASSIC
“The Complete Madame Boogala”
by Larry Johnson, 2023
I've loved reading the adventures of Madame Boogala in the pages of Tales of Fantasy for about a quarter of a century. After seeing just one or two of them, I began pestering Larry to send me the complete run of the series. He did so, even though it meant photocopying pages of the previous issues. Larry refused to reprint those issues—one shot was all we got!
Well, no longer do we need to gather rare copies of TOF and photocopies of out-of-print issues. Now, almost all of Boogala's adventures are available in one place! Only a few of the Madame's later stories await a future collection.
Madame Boogala is a Gypsy witch, who once trafficked with demons from the Land of Darkness. Now, centuries later, Boogala is periodically obliged to summon and unleash those demons on an unsuspecting world. Yet she has learned to live with the curse placed on her, sometimes employing the lesser demons to steal treasures or inflict her enemies (like the landlord) with illnesses. Other demons, such as Melado, Chula, and Poreskoro are far more deadly and almost beyond her control.
Boogala's moral compass points in the direction of what's best for her, yet she's not wholly evil. She cares about her adult son. Maybe we should say she smothers him. The dynamics between mother and son are the true heart of this wonderful series.
Naturally, some stories are better than others; when Larry wrote the first couple, he hadn't developed the characters and scenarios to their final form. Maybe the art is not on a level with Marvel and DC, but it has an undeniable charm. I can't recommend it high enough.