Dec 18, 2021

Fangbone!: 3rd Grade Barbarian and Boyfriend Fight Monsters


(2014-2017) features a 9-year old warrior from the land of Skullbania who talks like Conan the Barbarian (and is voiced by Taylor Abrahamse).  He was entrusted with a magical talisman (if you must know, the severed toe of the Venemous Drool) and zapped into our world, where he befriended "weird kid" Bill (Colin Doyle).   Drool sends monsters and tries various psychological tricks to get his toe back, but Fangbone and Bill are always victorious.

You get the premise in the opening credits; the show itself is nonstop buddy-bonding, with almost all of the characteristics of a classic gay subtext: physicality, domesticity, exclusivity, lack of heterosexual interest, and permanence.  

In "The Necktie of Change," Bill is annoyed by Fangbone's barbarian excesses; he forces Bill to wake up three hours early, stabs the toaster, and won't let him enter "the maw of the metal beast" to get to school.  Then a magical photograph transforms him into a preppy who wears a suit and eats with a knife and fork. At first Bill is excited by this new toned-down Fangbone, but then he realizes that it was Fangbone's eccentricity that made him attractive.  Besides, he can't fight monsters as a preppy. Constant grabbing of hands, arms around shoulders, hugging.  Physicality.

In "The Mom of No Return," Bill's Mom discovers that he has been fighting monsters with Fangbone, and forces them to separate.  They are miserable without each other.  Besides, Fangbone can't fight monsters adequately by himself.  Mom finally relents, and Bill rushes in to save the day. Permanence.

Not many episodes involve friends outside the core duo.  I watched "The Pitch of Black," in which Fangbone takes the gang camping (aka "Skullbanian sky-snoring"), to check on their interactions.  He insists on roughing it -- no wifi, no tv, no "phones of smart."  Then shadow-monsters attack!  The friends consist of Dibby, who talks like a robot; Patty, a sarcastic girl; and a chubby eyeglassed person.  They act as a group, leaving the Fangbone-Bill pairing intact.  Exclusivity.

Only one episode mentions a girl or a woman: Fangbone is stressed out being responsible for the fate of two universes, so Bill finds a previous Guardian of the Toe to give him a pep talk: Wargrunt of the Bare-Claw Bear Clan, a giant adult Valkyrie-person.  But she turns out to be evil, hoping to use the power of the One Ring -- um, I mean Toe -- for her own ends.  No heterosexual interest.

All that's missing is domesticity: Fangbone lives by himself. 

Fangbone! is based on a series of books by Michael Rex, who has published many other children's books about monsters and warriors. No indication that the subtext is intentional. 

But no indication that it's not intentional.  Here another of his characters displays heterosexual interest, so why did he ensure that Fangbone and Bill don't?  A suggestion of authorial intent.

My Grade: A


  1. I wonder why no one finds anything unusual about Fangbone's dress, speech, or behavior. Maybe they think he's cosplaying?


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