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Literature / Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian

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Before there was Star Butterfly, there was...

In 2012, about three years before Daron Nefcy and Disney Television Animation introduced the world to the magical interdimensional adventures of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Michael Rex, the bestselling children's author behind such works as Goodnight Goon, Furious George Goes Bananas, Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots, and Icky Ricky, created a hero from a fantasy realm who crossed over to Earth to become an exchange student and befriended an ordinary boy who helped him battle monsters. And his name was... Fangbone!

Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian is a trilogy of graphic novels oriented at elementary-aged boys starring the eponymous Barbarian Kid Hero, who has come to Earth from the world of Skullbania with the magical big toe of his home's vilest villain, Venomous Drool, having been assigned by the older barbarians to keep this severed digit of great and powerful evil out of Drool's hands. On Earth, Fangbone attends Eastwood Elementary's misfit third-grade class of 3G alongside his newfound friend Bill, but things are complicated by Venomous Drool sending fearsome Skullbanian monsters to defeat Fangbone and retrieve his Toe.

And so Hilarity Ensues as Fangbone does his best to adjust to life as an ordinary kid dealing with pop quizzes, bullies, science fairs, birthday parties, super-spicy hot wings, and other typical children's fare, while his classmates do their best to help Eastwood Elementary's newest and strangest student battle hound-snakes, lava-ferrets, razor-dragons, dirt devils, killer bouncy castles, and other minions of Venomous Drool!

The first Fangbone book, simply titled Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian, quickly became a bestselling hit with its target demographic. It was quickly succeeded by two more books titled The Egg of Misery and The Birthday Party of Dread (both of them also released in 2012), both of which were equally acclaimed by both kids and reviewers of children's literature, with many in the latter positively comparing the series to Captain Underpants and the like.

The popularity of the Fangbone! books was noticed by TV producers from the Canadian studio Radical Sheep Productions, as well as the executives at the Canadian Disney XD, who contacted Michael Rex about making an Animated Adaptation of the books. Rex agreed to the idea, resulting in the release of Fangbone! in 2016 on Family CHRGD (initially scheduled for 2014 on the Canadian Disney XD, but delayed for complex reasons). The cartoon only ran for 1 season of 26 episodes, but is notable for the heavy involvement that Michael Rex had in its production (who was an executive producer and did some of the show's concept art), allowing the series to remaining fairly close to the books while also taking it in a few new directions, namely the expanding on the world and its characters (particularly Venomous Drool). It even resulted in the books getting a second publishing in 2016.

Tropes for the cartoon can be found here.


  • Adults Are Useless: The adults are completely clueless in regards to Fangbone's unusual behavior and battles against Drool's monsters, dismissing him simply as an overimaginative kid playing dressup.
  • Animated Adaptation: The Fangbone! cartoon series, of course. Author Michael Rex was heavily involved in the production of the show, allowing the show to remain very faithful to the books for the most part while also putting more focus on Skullbania itself.
  • Another Dimension: Skullbania itself is one of these, with Fangbone being sent to Earth to keep Venomous Drool's toe out of his hands.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Fangbone battles a bouncy castle brought to life by Venomous Drool's magic in the third book.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In the scene in the first book where we're introduce to Bill's mom, Bill is shown taking medication that he tells Fangbone is "so I don't go all hyper, like blaaah." While never explicit, it's evident from this piece of dialogue that he has ADHD.
  • Barbarian Hero: Subverted with Fangbone. While he views himself as a warrior in his own right, the other Skullbanians view him as merely an errand boy for their war camp.
  • Big Bad: Venomous Drool, whose quest to get back his Toe drives the narrative.
  • Birthday Episode: The third book, The Birthday Party of Dread, involves one, as the title suggests. Of course, Drool's foul sorcery results in monsters showing up to wreck things.
  • The Bully: Duncan is this to Fangbone and the other kids of 3G. Due to his barbarian background however, Fangbone isn't afraid of him and doesn't take him seriously, even if it's partly because he doesn't understand most of the things Duncan says at him are meant to be hurtful. Notably, he is the only major character who doesn't appear in the Animated Adaptation.
  • The Comically Serious: Fangbone. While many of the things he says are certainly meant to be humorous to readers, Fangbone himself takes the things he says seriously and possesses a rather humorless demeanor.
  • Disappeared Dad: Bill's father never appears nor is he ever mentioned; his whole family is just him and his mom.
  • Dodgeball Is Hell: Or in this case, "Bean Ball", with the main plot of the first book focusing on the class of 3G trying to convince Fangbone to participate in the upcoming game against Duncan's class.
  • Egg Sitting: In the second book, The Egg of Misery, Fangbone gets a large dragon egg from his tribe in Skullbania that he has to hatch out in order to get a monster that will help him in guarding the Toe. However, it turns out to be a trap from Drool, as the egg instead hatches a bird monster to attack Fangbone.
  • Feathered Fiend: The Feathered Skeeve, a giant, vicious dodo-like monster that Fangbone battles in the second book.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Bill gets Fangbone to try some ultra-spicy hot wings, resulting in this. Later on, he manages to drive away one of Drool's monsters by tossing some of that same food into its mouth.
  • Fish out of Water: The general stories and tone of the books, particularly when it comes to humor, are primarily derived from Fangbone's unfamiliarity with how things work on Earth and the contrast with how he approaches things in Skullbania.
  • The Ghost: Venomous Drool. While the fact that his Toe is the reason for the various monsters that come to Earth and attack Fangbone (and some of his backstory is detailed in the books), he never physically appears in the series and is only mentioned. This stands in contrast to the Animated Adaptation, where Drool appears very regularly on-screen and directly interacts with Fangbone and Bill several times.
  • Joisey: A Running Gag throughout the first book is that when Fangbone mentions he is from Skullbania, people ask him if it's located in New Jersey. Note that series author Michael Rex actually is from New Jersey himself, so this is clearly tongue-in-cheek on his part.
  • Kid Hero: Fangbone himself, although the other barbarians initially do not consider him one. Heck, the only reason why they gave him the Toe in the first place was because they decided that Drool would never seriously believe that they had left it in the hands of a child.
  • Literal-Minded: Fangbone's blunt and straightforward approach to life and method of speaking make him prone to this. He often finds himself confused by certain Earth phrases as a result.
  • MacGuffin: Venomous Drool's Big Toe of Evil. It's the reason why Fangbone is on Earth and why monsters from Skullbania keep showing up to attack him, but otherwise is largely irrelevant in Fangbone's day-to-day misadventures at school with Bill.
  • Mundane Object Amazement: Happens frequently to Fangbone, including mistaking Eastwood Elementary for a castle when he first arrives on Earth, believing flush toilets to be the work of sorcery, and being impressed by how comfortable Bill's ordinary suburban home is.
  • Never Learned to Read: Fangbone reveals this to Ms. Gillian when he first arrives in her class as its newest student.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Many of the monsters in the books are pretty unconventional for fantasy beasts, such as the Hound-Snake (head of a wolf, body of a giant snake), the Flaming Ghost of Glor (a giant, fiery, one-eyed ghost warrior), and the Dirt Devils (demons made entirely of earth).
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: Fangbone's fashion style. The other kids and Principal Bruce are so enamored by it that they even start wearing similar clothes. Ms. Gillian even wonders out loud how Eddie managed to find fur underpants.
  • Putting the "Pal" in Principal: Principal Bruce, the hapless principal of Eastwood Elementary, is a goofy but well-meaning man with an enthusiastic attitude.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Ms. Gillian, Fangbone's frazzled teacher, does her best to help Fangbone and the other kids in school, even if Fangbone's strange antics baffle her often. But given that she teaches Eastwood Elementary's "special" class, being reasonable is kinda necessary for her job.
  • Science Fair: Featured in The Egg of Misery, where it plays a major role in the plot and is the setting of the climactic fight against the Feathered Skeeve.
  • Sealed Evil in a Six Pack: As explained at the start of the third book, Venomous Drool was originally cut into pieces many years ago by the barbarians, but pieced back together by his minions, leaving only the Toe, which he needs to be completed.
  • Slice of Life: In contrast with the more action-driven Animated Adaptation, Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian focuses more on Fangbone's everyday misadventures on Earth, with Skullbania being more of a backdrop when compared to the cartoon.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Fangbone has a very distinctive and unusual method of speech that combines flowery fantasy-novel-style talk with crude grammar. He frequently says "X's Y" as "Y of X" for instance.
  • Sword and Sorcery: Fangbone hails from such a world; Michael Rex was heavily influenced by the 80s barbarian fantasy films (especially the 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie) in creating Fangbone and Skullbania.
  • Wacky Homeroom: The Class of 3G are an entire class of school misfits, although since this is due to them being the school's "special" class, it's a much more downplayed example.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Fangbone and most of the other barbarians go about without any shirts. One of Fangbone's classmates, Robert, is inspired by this to go about shirtless in school as well.
  • Wizard Classic: The Sorcerer of Ribcage Rock who helps Fangbone get from Skullbania to Earth is one of these.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: As part of his duties safeguarding the Toe, Fangbone can never return to Skullbania and is effectively trapped on Earth for the rest of his life. This stands in contrast with the Animated Adaptation, where Fangbone regularly returns to Skullbania whenever requested by his tribe to accomplish tasks he can't do on Earth.

Alternative Title(s): Fangbone, Fangbone Third Grade Barbarian