Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Raymond Briggs: everything melts in the end

I never properly got the bug for comics and/or graphic novels, but my childhood was definitely enhanced by the mordant brilliance of Raymond Briggs. I think his masterpieces are Fungus the Bogeyman and When the Wind Blows (with the later, heartbreaking Ethel and Ernest coming up behind) but usually when I mention his name I have to explain that he was the man behind The Snowman. It’s a good story but the lack of text means we’re deprived of Briggs’s facility for verbal wit and irony. And although the film is perfectly watchable, I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about the Yuletide add-ons that have made it a seasonal favourite (although they do allow us to point and laugh at dunderheads such as this bloke). It’s not about Christmas; it’s about death and loss and the end of innocence. All the stuff that really matters to kids, in fact. And Briggs himself agrees, it seems.


Z said...

My daughter loved Fungus the Bogeyman so much that she stole it from the school library. She assured me that there had been an end-of-term sale and I was so gullible in those days.

Annie said...

I read this in class every year and they LOVED the ending. Loved it. Death and sadness. They can cope with it.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Like you I never got that bug, plus I've never seen The Snowman either. But good heavens, Briggs looks like an accountant, and a rather nice one at that. I'd somehow imagined him with a lot more hair. If he's got a The Snowman sequel in him, maybe he can bring the theme back to what he originally intended.

Tim F said...

Fungus is an icon of subversion, Z (check out the punk haircut), so I suppose it's only appropriate. Girl's got good taste.

Children's coping ability is hugely underrated, Annie. It's adolescence that erodes it.

I think he did exactly what he wanted with The Snowman book, Gadjo. It was the film that took a leap into Christmassy irrelevance, as the confused Amazon customer demonstrates.