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Literature / Fungus the Bogeyman

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Fungus the Bogeyman is a book that is somewhere between a comic book and a regular book written by Raymond Briggs.

It is about creatures called Bogeymen (i.e. "boogeymen" in US English; "bogeys" is also UK English for the US "boogers", as in lumps of snot): humanoid creatures with green skin and large ears that live underground. Notable characteristics of Bogey people is that they are lazy and like to be slow, like the cold (and conversely hate the heat), like to be dirty and hate to be clean, and like to be wet.

Most of the book is explaining how Bogey biology and society works, but the actual plot is about a Bogeyman named Fungus going to and from his job, which is scaring humans, all the while having an existential crisis about "what it's all for".

It has been adapted twice as Mini Series, Fungus the Bogeyman (2004) and Fungus the Bogeyman (2016) using a live action/CGI mix. The series story differs from the book to give it more plot.

Fungus the Bogeyman provides examples of

  • All Animals Are Dogs: Bogeys keep skunks, which act exactly like dogs.
  • Alphabet Song: One book-within-a-book features a gross alphabet with things like "T is for tadpole tart".
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Fungus's pets are a cat and a skunk and both are green.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: Among other things, Bogeymen love filth, cold, and being lazy and hate cleanliness, warmth, and being industrious.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Fat Bogeywomen are considered attractive by their peers.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Fungus never does get any satisfactory answers to his existential questions. On the plus side, he still has his loving wife (who at least manages to calm him down), his adoring son and his damp, filthy, fly-infested home. He's a very lucky Bogey, really.
  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": Bogeys call humans "drycleaners" or "DCs" for short, likely because we're much dryer than them and we clean ourselves and our belongings.
  • Canon Foreigner: The 2004 mini-series adaptation gives Fungus a daughter called Mucus.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Parodied. Bogeys have a superstition that if you get your feet dry, you'll catch a disease called a "hot".
  • Creepy Hairless Animal: Bogey pets are hairless and have moist skin like frogs.
  • Dangerous Windows: The front cover shows Fungus looming through an open window, and he peers and reaches into windows through the night. Downplayed, in that the most harm you'll get from him is a boil or a faceful of soot.
  • Death of a Child: Dead animals and dead Bogey babies are frequent subjects of Bogey paintings.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Bogeys are fond of profound-sounding platitudes, which they usually misquote.
  • Door Handle Scare: Fungus' nightly routine includes turning people's doorknobs very, very slowly.
  • Eats Babies: Played with. Bogeys don't eat human babies now but they used to.
  • Fantastic Racism: Bogeys are prejudiced against humans, making dolls similar to golliwogs to caricature them and referring to them as "drycleaners".
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The book ends with the message "Fear not the Bogeymen by day, but at night, watch out!".
  • Gigantic Gulp: Bogeys drink slime by the gallon.
  • Green Is Gross: The Bogey people are green and have disgusting habits like being perpetually dirty and eating flies.
  • Laborious Laziness: Bogey bicycles are designed specifically to be slow.
  • Lazy Bum: All Bogeypeople are quite lazy and the only things they really make an effort about are keeping damp and dirty and their work.
  • Mind Screwdriver: The book asserts that the poem about the Man in the Moon makes sense if the man was a Bogeyman because he went south to avoid the heat and he burnt his mouth on cold plum porridge because Bogeys burn themselves easily.
  • Misspelling Out Loud: One song lyric spells "bogey" as "B-O-G-I-E".
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: Bogeys are humanoid but have horns, cat-like whiskers in their ears, extendable frog-like tongues, spinal fins, scales, webbed hands and feet, and four-chambered stomachs like cattle.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
    • At one point, some Bogeys are seen trying to have a rock-and-roll party even though most Bogeys like to be quiet.
    • Apparently, some Bogey children try to clean themselves if they see it on TV.
  • Named After the Injury: One legend the Bogey people have is a parody of the myth of Icarus, involving a Bogeyman who flew near the sun and whose skin was bleached yellow, gaining him the nickname "Icterus", which is a rare term for jaundice.
  • Nose Nuggets:
    • The term "bogeyman" partly comes from "bogey", which is a word for a lump of snot.
    • Either Fungus's skunk or his cat is named Mucus. Probably his skunk, since "Pus" sounds like a play on "puss".
    • When Bogeys are highly emotional, they don't cry but their noses run.
  • Odd Name Out: Fungus is the only one of his family whose name doesn't start with an "M". His wife's name is Mildew and their son's name is Mould.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Fungus exclaims, "For slime's sake!", which is quite strange because slime is what Bogeys drink.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: By the end of the night, Fungus is so frustrated at the futility of Bogey life that he shouts "WHY?" at his wife. Bogeys never shout at each other.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Most Bogey literature is plagiarised versions of human literature.
  • Pun: Many instances of wordplay, e.g. a Bogey inn is called an "outt".
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Scaring people is simply what Bogeymen do. Only Fungus questions it, seeing his once-fun job as pointless and repetitious.
  • Rip Van Winkle: When Bogeys experience psychological distress, they bury themselves to sleep for up to a year.
  • Shout-Out: Bogey literature is all plagiarised versions of human literature and Mildew reads a parody of Huckleberry Finn.
  • Shrinking Violet: Bogeymen are described as being "shy" when at home.
  • Smelly Feet: Bogeys' entire bodies stink but their feet are the worst - or the best, from their point of view.
  • Spelling Song: One background character is seen singing, "B-O-G-I-E!".
  • Theme Naming: The characters are all named after gross things (Fungus, Mildew, Mould, Fester, Mucus, Pus).
  • Thermal Dissident: Bogeys as a species prefer colder temperatures, which is part of the reason they're nocturnal, and will complain if the weather is too warm. However, there's nothing to suggest they actually need it to be cold.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: The Bogeys' job is to scare humans at night.
  • Toilet Humour: The whole book is a whole lot of gross-out jokes. Our protagonist drinks slime, wears dung-covered clothes, and sleeps in a bed of snails.
  • Vague Age: It's unclear how old Fungus's son Mould is. He's lanky like a teenager but he's seen being tucked into bed.
  • The Vicar: The "Nice Little Vicar" terrorised by Fungus. A footnote explains that bogeys resent Vicars for conflating them with devils.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Bogeys regard gold as a base metal, and use it to make spittoons.