Twenty-six years on from its first publication, Fungus the Bogeyman
remains a celebration of all things slimy and disgusting, and has attracted
a cult following of children, teenagers and adults.
Award-winning writer and illustrator Mark Haddon talks
about his adaptation of one of Britain's most famous classic cult children's
"I'd read the book hundreds of times before but rediscovered it when
I was reading it to my son, Alfie.
"He laughed at the poo jokes; I laughed at the references to Hamlet
and Dostoevsky (and the poo jokes). And we both loved Raymond Briggs's
"The most challenging part of the adaptation was generating a sufficiently
meaty plot. All good stories are driven by conflict which Bogeymen hate.
"We realised that the only way to generate that conflict was to
have a Drycleaner stumble into Bogeydom by mistake - as soon as we'd
done that the story began to write itself.
"Like many of Raymond Briggs's characters, Fungus and Mildew are loosely
based on his own parents. And this is what gives the book its universal
"It is, on the one hand, a fantastical tale about ghastly creatures
who dwell in vast caverns underneath our feet.
"On the other hand, it's a thinly disguised picture of a working-class
couple muddling along together with their children in a red-brick Victorian
terrace, a kind of subterranean Coronation Street!
"Fungus the Bogeyman was published in 1977, the same year that the
first Sex Pistols LP came out.
"I never realised it at the time, but now, every time I think
about Fungus's little red Mohican hairstyle and his less-than-perfect
personal hygiene, I can't help seeing him as Johnny Rotten's underground
alter-ego - the first punk of children's books, who broke all the rules
and never changed his underwear, but who loved his children and liked
nothing better than settling down after a hard day's work with a good
book and a cup of cold slime."
AA / KW