A novelty tie in of a much loved children’s book normally means a poorly stitched soft toy stapled to the front cover, or perhaps a collection of screen grabs taken from a lacklustre animated movie with text written by somebody in the publicity department. In the case of the Fungus the Bogeyman: The Plop-Up Book, none of this applies.
Released in 1982 the book is much more than novelty, it’s both an expansion of Fungus’s universe and a pop-up book in the same league as Jan Pienkowski’s absolute classic, Haunted House.
We are taken into parts of Fungus’s world that were previously considered too grotesque for the original book, such as the Bogey public lavatory – comically censored by a black box in the original.
Standing in front of the oozing Leaky, the Bogeyman prepares to perform his doings. Fungus stands somewhat bashfully opening his trousers in front of us. Briggs designed his own method of pulling down his trousers, but paper engineer Ron van der Meer decided instead to allow the reader to open them. Speaking in Blooming Books this was, ‘as Briggs says with satisfaction, much ruder.’
Another image censored for real by the publisher was Fungus’s umbilical cord, a grotesque appendage that remains flapping from the Bogeyman’s belly for his entire life. Again the addition of an even larger black box just serves to make readers imaginations run riot.
‘HERE! NOW! Unveiled for the first time in the History of the world, is the Bogey umbilical cord!! Discreetly censored in every previous publication, this vital organ of Bogey anatomy is displayed here in all its traditional splendour.’
In the Plop-Up Book the cord is rendered in three glorious dimensions, bursting out of Fungus’s open shirt and through the open window of two unsuspecting humans. ‘The principal purpose of the cord is to discharge noxious stomach gases into bedrooms’.
Briggs had planned a number of bizarre sequels to the 1977 book, including a story where he meets the Michelin Man and attempts to replicate Mr tyre’s successful tourist guides and attract surface dwellers to Bogeyland. Then there was Fungus and Father Christmas, a tantalising team up in which Fungus attempts to franchise Santa’s business underground.
‘Here we see a fairly standard Horripilation. It is quite characteristic of female DCs (Drycleaners, the surface dwelling humans) to react in the rather histrionic manner depicted here.’
My favourite pop up shows Fungus rising from behind a grave, spraying bats at one of the Bogeys greatest enemies, a vicar who spits out his dentures. As the sun rises bystanders gawp in disgusted fascination.
There was one more collaboration with Ron van der Meer, a musical pop up version of The Snowman. It prompts thoughts of another delicious team up: Fungus and The Snowman. Just imagine the look on the face of the excited boy as he runs downstairs, into the garden to be confronted with a pile of cold slime to mould into a loveable green winter time pal.