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Fungus the Bogeyman

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And as such, I personally would also not generally consider Fungus the Bogeyman as a book for all children, but most suitable and enjoyable for children above the age of seven or eight (but there is really no upper limit for Fungus the Bogeyman as teenagers and adults who enjoy graphic novels, parodies, satires and coarse, crude humour type of offerings would likely also find their proverbial funny bone tickled). It reads almost like a comic book with incredibly detailed illustrations in individual boxes with speech bubbles or text. I have had this book for years – but it is now time to pass it on to a little boy, who will hopefully love it as much as I do. Over a period of decades, a number of attempts were made to make a film from the book, which was difficult given its lack of an actual plot.

However, Briggs continued to produce humour for children, in works such as the Unlucky Wally series and The Bear. Combine that rudimentary appeal with a very adult level of punning and an endearing melancholy and you have Fungus. A strong stomach is occasionally required to accompany a reading of this exploration of a typical day in the life of Fungus the Bogeyman. Briggs uses hilarious wordplay and cultural inversions to create encyclopaedic entries about the strange place of Bogeydom, its inhabitants and customs.For while Fungus' world and his daily life are indeed often minutely, engagingly and even in a strange way beautifully described and depicted (and the accompanying illustrations are gorgeously drawn and actually, amazingly sparkle with their very and often intense general ugliness), really and truly, for and to me, the constant and ever-present referrals to farting, vomiting, grottiness, slime, mould and the like does tend to become rather frustratingly dragging. But, what makes the book so strange is not just the weird censorship jokes, but the fact that throughout the novel, Fungus is having something of an existential crisis. By using the Web site, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by the Terms and Conditions. Life in Bogeydom is full of snot, smells, slime, scum and other unspeakable things, and Bogeymen live under the ground revelling in allthe nastiness imaginable. Questioning the meaning of life becomes more insightful and urgent, in a way, when the life in question is the antithesis of all we supposedly hold dear in our human world; the removal allows for a more dispassionate consideration of the existential void at the core of the universe than a realistic treatment would allow, but the humour mitigates the likelihood of despair.

Through the richly-detailed pages, contrasts and parallels are revealed between the gentle, disgusting Bogeys, and humans. For a picture book (and even for a short comic book style graphic novel obviously and primarily meant for children), Raymond Briggs' Fungus the Bogeyman is actually in many ways rather sophisticated and involved humour and narrative-wise.English illustrator and children's book author Raymond Briggs is best known in Britain for his 'books without words' told entirely though full color illustrations. Briggs' character Fungus the Bogeyman, first featured in his children's work of the same name, published in 1977. Briggs says that he invented Fungus, ‘to show the petty nastiness of life — slime and spit and dandruff, all this awful stuff which is slightly funny because it detracts from human dignity and our pretensions. The family has an addition, a daughter named Mucus, and Fungus' son Mould (who featured in the original book) is a teenager going through a rebellious phase: cleaning things instead of dirtying them.

This is a delightful, eccentric book, the sort of book that genuinely IS all-ages, a claim often made but rarely merited. Briggs not only gives the reader a clear indication of what the Bogeyman wears, eats and wash’s himself with but also the bogeyman’s hobbies, habitat and modes of transport. Bogeymen like: silence, tasting books, losing or drawing games, wetness, rotten smells and slowness.It is not for everyone's taste, I mean you have to be keen on slime, pus and muck but hey, that is what makes a bogeyman happy. I mean, it’s a complete classic, although I do prefer Ug, Boy Genius of the Stone Age, for its philosophical musings, although the quotations from Southey, Clare, et al in this book do make me smile.

Yes, ultimately the joke is one-note (everything in bogeydom is more or less the reverse of things in the human world, so bogeymen prefer dirt to cleanliness, cold to warmth, wet to dry, and so on, though there are occasional inconsistencies), but Briggs pulls off so many brilliant variations on it, and paces them out so carefully as he narrates Fungus's typical "day" (read night) of frightening and irritating people, all the while wondering what purpose his job serves, that the joke somehow never gets tired.As an illustrated and handwritten book, I would give it 5 stars as the author’s creativity knows no bounds: Bogeydom is the world of the Bogeymen and everything is the opposite of where we (the drycleaners) live. Yes, the characters and their world is beautifully drawn, with lots and lots of fascinating written detail for those whose imagination is sufficiently grabbed to enjoy the sheer grottiness of it all; or should that be ‘snottiness’? The story, such as it is, follows a day in the life of the eponymous Fungus, a hard-working Bogeyman who is going through an existential midlife crisis, questioning both his purpose and the system in which he works. The Bogeymen that live there revel in every kind of nastiness imaginable - especially their day-job of scaring human beings.

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