Pepe Gotera y Otilio chapuzas a domicilio is a humorous strip that Francisco Ibáñez (1936) created for Spanish publisher Bruguera in 1966. It features a couple of manual workers who hire their services to repair or build all kinds of things invariably to disastrous results. Ibáñez is best-known for Mortadelo y Filemón, unarguably the most successful series in Spanish comics, but this later creation of his also achieved considerable popularity, to the degree that the names of its protagonists have become synonymous with “shoddy works” in colloquial Spanish.

After the abovementioned Mortadelo y Filemón, Ibáñez created a number of short-lived strips (Ande, ríase “usté” con el Arca de Noé, 1960; Godofredo y Pascualino, viven del deporte fino, 1961; El doctor Esparadrapo y su ayudante Gazapo, 1964) following a recurrent formula of humor in the humorous comics published by Bruguera: the violent dialectics between a straight superior and a subordinate with more extravagant behavior, though both equally incompetent and doomed to failure in whatever their professional field may be. In 1966, Ibáñez applied this concept to a two-man company of repairs and renovations. Pepe Gotera, mustachioed and wearing a badly-matched combination of black suit and red bowler hat, is the irascible boss, who deals with customers. Proper manual labor is Otilio’s job, as evidenced by his blue overalls and cap, plus his shirt sleeves permanently rolled up. Simple-minded and good-natured, Otilio is a hopelessly inept worker who always chooses brawn over brain. Nevertheless, his most characteristic trait is a hyperbolic gluttony that impels him to take continuous breaks for his surrealistic snacks: his voracity is so huge that he will happily devour virtually anything, animal, vegetal, or mineral in large quantities. The other main source of humor in the strip is the catastrophic resolution of the task they were hired for, which leads to a customary final panel in which the two protagonists are chased by the employer of the episode and an assortment of authorities.

Since the series’ debut in the magazine Tío Vivo, both the characters and their routine were clearly defined, so that the strip’s popularity grew very quickly. In 1972, the strip was moved to another Bruguera weekly, DDT, where it enjoyed main-feature status, appearing on the covers and also in the interior pages; one year later, it was incorporated  to yet another magazine, Super DDT with the same privileges. In addition, like with other popular Bruguera series, independent episodes and some long stories were collected as albums in the Franco-Belgian tradition. Since the demise of Bruguera comics, Pepe Gotera and Otilio have not had their own series, but they have made occasional cameos in stories starring Mortadelo and Filemón.

— Jesús Jiménez Varea

Further Reading

  • Alary, Viviane. “The Spanish Tebeo”, European Comic Art vol. 2 no. 2 (Fall 2009): 253-276.
  • Booker, M. Keith(Ed.). Comics through Time. A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2014.
  • Merino, Ana (Ed.). “Spanish Comics: A Symposium”, International Journal of Comic Art vol. 5 no. 2 (Fall 2003): 3-153.