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Fungus the Bogeyman

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There will probably be words that a young child will not know such as ‘pullulate’ (regarding Fungus’s underwear), and ‘horripilation’ (lady in the tub) but that is half the joy of this book - discovering new words for noxious stuffs and effects. I had been wanting to read this for years and finally bought it last year but I was so disappointed in it! I debated giving it five stars, but there are one or two Briggs books I like even better ( The Snowman and When the Wind Blows, if you were wondering, and even if you weren't), so I held off, no doubt being unforgivably parsimonious with my stars. The story follows one day in the life of this fabulous character, a working class Bogeyman with the mundane job of scaring human beings. She reassures him and we are shown that bogeyman, disgusting as they are potrayed in this book, still possess the strongest human emotion, love.

It is a hugely entertaining read from start to finish, chronicling the life of Fungus and his grotesque environment. Bogeydom is not a place I would particularly like to visit, but I am glad I am aware of it, and that while reading about its goings-on my dinner, and sense of humour, remained intact. This could be interpreted as a comical, jovial way to show children that different people can live very diverse lives which may help them to become more aware of the world around them. 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. Through the richly-detailed pages, contrasts and parallels are revealed between the gentle, disgusting Bogeys, and humans.There isn’t really a storyline; the content instead strikes me as more of a lengthy encyclopaedia entry rendered in the most perfectly bilious green. As an adult, it's funny, but it feels strange for a kid's book, and I imagine that it would go right over the heads of younger readers. One of my earliest book-related memories is of my parents taking me to the local library so I could rumage through the cluttered jumble of children's books, always in the hope of finding this buried treasure.

But that all being said, the constant and continuously recurring anally, body fluid and excretions based humour does tend to feel and become rather overly exaggerated and overused (even to the point of wearing more than a bit thin and thus no longer even being all that humorous to and for me, and mostly like a buzzing mosquito, somewhat annoying and recurringly tedious). 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.Tapping windows, tugging blankets, creaking stairs, making babies cry and hanging around graveyards are all in a nights work for the bogeyman. He travels through Bogeydom and into our world every night to go about his job of rattling doorknobs, waking babies, and causing boils to erupt on unsuspecting sleepers. There's a really nice balance of gunk and slime that will appeal to the 5 year old target audience that this title is listed under in the 1001 book, whilst the mundane weariness of work will resonate with the parents. Briggs continued to work in a similar format, but with more adult content, in Gentleman Jim (1980), a sombre look at the working class trials of Jim and Hilda Bloggs, closely based on his parents.

We have more or less straight comics, but also sections of pages treated as if they were notice boards, with text boxes pinned to them, "censored" text, charts, etc. Andrew Male, appearing on the Backlisted Podcast, described Fungus the Bogeyman as "the children's [version of Burton's] Anatomy of Melancholy" and this the most apt and accurate description I have ever come across. A strong stomach is occasionally required to accompany a reading of this exploration of a typical day in the life of Fungus the Bogeyman. This book is in good condition with some rubbing to the corners and scratches to the laminate on the front and back cover.

Amongst the information given about their lifestyle there is also a more typical storyline where Fungus wakes up, washes (in slime) and cycles to work where he ponders his role in society and the purpose of his existence! Yes there were bits with Fungus talking to his family and a bit where he is playing tricks on people but a lot of it is just long winded descriptions of things that didn't really interest me. 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.

Well, I tried re-reading this ‘comic book’ again; but very rapidly made up my mind that whatever might have once appealed to me now definitely doesn’t. It follows one day in the life of the title character, a working class Bogeyman with the mundane job of scaring human beings. 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. The book is also wonderfully illustrated, it helps convey to the reader the life of the bogeyman, his habits, family life, house, garden and social life. My teacher used to hate it when the class was reading (non-school) books and he'd see this well-worn tome on my desk.It tells of how Jessica, a human teenager, finds her way into Bogeydom and meets Fungus and his family.

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