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Briggs, Raymond

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist, Author, Comics.

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(1934-2022) UK illustrator and author, active in both capacities from about 1958, and best known for several tales told in Graphic Novel format, including Fungus the Bogeyman (graph 1977) and the related pop-up book Fungus the Bogeyman Plop-Up Book (graph 1982). Both are arguably Equipoisal with sf, in which the meticulously worked-out topsy-turvy world of the melancholy Underground Bogeys, opposite to humans in every way (and often gleefully repulsive), serves to illuminate life on the surface. Media adaptations include a three-part BBC television series aired in 2004, mixing live action (the human characters) and animation (the Bogeys); and a three-part animated Sky 1 series using motion-capture techniques, broadcast in 2015. The Snowman (graph 1978), a limpid fantasy for children told without words, is perhaps Brigg's most famous single work; there have been several animated film adaptations.

Much of his later work can be understood – not entirely convincingly – as Equipoisal, though the underlying dynamic that drove his graphic art was a deeply thought-through interplay between mundane reality and fantasy. The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (graph 1984) is a savage allegory which targets the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and her Falklands War.

His one true sf work is When the Wind Blows (graph 1982), a singularly unrelenting Satire on the true worth of civil defence in the event of a genuine nuclear Holocaust. The two protagonists – naive and trusting "ordinary" people not dissimilar to Briggs's own parents, whom he depicted in Ethel & Ernest (graph 1998) – follow government instructions to the letter, preparing for World War Three with the same cheerfully determined spirit they brought to the Battle of Britain, and die slowly in horror and bewilderment; by implication, from radiation sickness. This story was adapted as the animated film When the Wind Blows (1986) directed by Jimmy T Murakami. Ivor the Invisible (graph 2001) is based on Briggs's script for the short animation Ivor the Invisible (2001) directed for Channel 4 by Hilary Audus; it is a fantasy about a schoolboy's brief friendship with the titular invisible giant (see Great and Small; Invisibility).

Briggs was appointed CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2017. [JC/DRL]

Raymond Redvers Briggs

born Wimbledon, London: 18 January 1934

died Brighton, Sussex: 9 August 2022



Fungus the Bogeyman

  • Fungus the Bogeyman (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1977) [graph: Fungus the Bogeyman: hb/Raymond Briggs]
  • Fungus the Bogeyman Plop-Up Book (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1982) [graph: pop-up book: paper engineering by Ron Van Der Meer: Fungus the Bogeyman: hb/Raymond Briggs]

individual titles (selected)

  • The Snowman (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1978) [graph: hb/Raymond Briggs]
  • When the Wind Blows (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1982) [graph: hb/Raymond Briggs]
  • The Man (London: Random Century/Julia MacRae Books, 1992) [graph: hb/Raymond Briggs]
  • The Bear (London: Random Century/Julia MacRae Books, 1994) [graph: hb/Raymond Briggs]
  • Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age (London: Jonathan Cape, 2001) [graph: hb/Raymond Briggs]
  • Ivor the Invisible (London: Pan Macmillan/Channel 4 Books, 2001) [graph: hb/Raymond Briggs]

about the artist

  • Nicolette Jones. Raymond Briggs (London: Thames and Hudson, 2020) [in the publisher's The Illustrators series: hb/Raymond Briggs]


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