Friday, 23 April 2010

Fungus the Bogeyman

While thinking about something else entirely, I happened across this interesting academic article about Fungus the Bogeyman from the Australian Journal of Comedy (hilarious wisecracks on a post-card to the usual address, please).

Fungus the Bogeyman
is probably the book I remember most fondly from my childhood. I got for my eleventh or twelfth birthday, having seen it in a bookshop and known immediately that I had to have it. I think I was already familiar with Brigg's witty Father Christmas books, and so was primed to love this flowering of his deliciously subversive sense of humour.

It still resonates with me, thirty years later and I still find Fungus's search for meaning incredibly moving. As Andrew Casson says here:

"In its highly inventive and disrespectful way, it is one of the few books that takes children seriously by refusing to accept the conventional image of the child, by highlighting with its gentle satire our most strange society, and by treating the most serious issues of tolerance and, ultimately, the meaning of life with the humour they deserve and need if they are to be taken seriously."

Briggs's work fit precisely in the same irreverent space as 2000AD, which was then just entering its classic period. Interestingly, I remember catching an arts documentary about him in the 80s which showed him working with some of his art school students, discussing pieces for an exhibition: it was Brett Ewins!

Less happily, it was turned into an utterly repulsive TV show in the 2000s. The problems are amply demonstrated by comparing the cover image above with this publicity still from the show:

Why the hell is that Bogey smiling!?!?

Here is another great link, an appreciation by illustrator Joanna Carey.


  1. Fungus has some good Latin jokes in it.
    There's some business about thrushes (the genus Turdus, y'see) that I forget, but the main one I do remember was the soft drink Cloaca-Cola.

  2. It is absolutely thick with visual and linguistic puns. Kids really love that kind of fiddly detail, like the Where's Wally books. I remember when I was a kid, one of my favourite bits in Asterix books was the feast at end and spotting what all the characters were up to.

    Plus, of course, Asterix combined witty scripts (or translations thereof) with great illustration. It's rare to find this characteristic ion one creator.


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