Blast from the Past: Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs

by |October 28, 2010

I was walking through the warehouse this morning and I noticed a copy of Fungus the Bogeyman on a shelf ready to be packed and shipped off. Two minutes before if you’d asked me about Fungus the Bogeyman I would have said – never heard of it but having seen the gruesome green cover again, childhood memories came flooding back. I stood dumbfounded.

It was like the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.  Fungus the Bogeyman was the missing piece to the puzzle that is me.

When had I read it? Did I own a copy or was it a library book? I cannot say. All I can say is that as a child of indeterminate age I made a close study of the upside-down wisdom contained in this magnificent work…

And, in short, it has made me the man I am today. (Well, it certainly prepared me for the gross grime and gritty grot of early nineties grunge.)

(What is also surprising about this discovery is that, Raymond Briggs, the author of Fungus the Bogeyman, also wrote When the Wind Blows and Ethel And Ernest both of which I have loved as an adult. And I never made the connection – out of sight out of slime)

Here’s what Mr Internet has to say about Fungus the Bogeyman.

Deep down underground, in the dark, dripping tunnels of bogeydom, live the bogeys, a vile collection of slimy, smelly creatures who revel in everything revolting. Fungus is a bogeyman-a particularly foul and fetid specimen. As he goes about his bogey business, the full horrors of bogeydom are revealed.

Over 80,000 copies of this fun book have been sold worldwide.

Fungus is an ordinary working bogeyman, one of whose working days the book portrays, starting when he wakes up and ending just before he falls asleep.

As his day progresses, he undergoes a mild existential crisis, pondering what his seemingly pointless job of scaring surface people is really for.

He is a member of the Bogey society, which is very similar to British society, but Bogeymen enjoy the inverse of that which humans (called Drycleaners because of their perverse environmental preferences) appreciate: Dirt instead of cleanliness, stink instead of perfume, slimy and spoiled food etc.

The book depicts the mundane details of Bogey life in loving detail, with almost every panel equipped with peripheral notes about such things as Bogey habits, myths, pets, hobbies, literature, clothing and, perhaps least appetising of all, food.

Much of the humour derives from word play; for instance, Bogeymen enjoy eating flies much as human beings enjoy cigarettes, and one brand of fly is the “strong French Gallwasp”, a pun on Gauloises. Similarly, what Bogeymen call a bugbear is a sort of teddy bear with rancid, bug-ridden fur.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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  • July 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Found this book (in mint condition) during the last trip home to my folks’ place, and started reading it to my 5 year old tonight. So far, she loves it as much as I do!

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