Written by Jonathan Wojcik
Content provided by Astronit!
Germs are just about my favorite thing anyone ever draws into weird, cartoonish monsters, especially when Worlds of Wonder did so for one of my favorite toy lines, so I was probably more excited than any rational human being when my friend Astronit shared with me the wonderful Basuritas del Cuerpo, a Spanish sticker series we can sort of get away with translating as "Germs of the Body," though Basuritas is apparently also what they called the Garbage Pail Kids, and sort of approximates something like "garbage guys."
There are 153 stickers in the complete set, featuring over sixty different microbial monsters and a number of scenes telling the simple story of a filthy, repugnant, disease-ridden family. Cute. The artwork has a beautifully scribbly, grungy watercolor sort of look to it, and the design style is remarkably similar to the WoW Germs already mentioned, in some cases perhaps a bit too similar to be coincidence. Just contrast and compare:
Did the two series share a concept artist? Or just their influence? It's tough to say. You can check out the entire sticker album below, and then we'll start looking at the germs one by one!
Unfortunately, the twenty four holographic stickers don't lend themselves too well to scanning or photography; feel free to squint at them to your heart's content, but I'll have to be skipping them over while we review the remaining germs. That still leaves us with quite a bit of ground to cover, so let's start!
Since English is my first and only language to date, I can only deduce anything about these things from the art and google translate, which might not always be perfect. Their names are mostly fictional, and like the WoW germs, a lot of them seem to symbolize bodily functions that aren't necessarily "diseases." This one, for instance, is apparently a "bootlicking" germ. Huh. I guess this is the microorganism responsible for being a suck-up.
This guy with the glasses, giant head and neat, hairy back tentacles looks like some sort of brainiac, but apparently pertains to swallowing, or something. There's probably a figure of speech here I'm not getting.
The first few cards demonstrate different combinations between germs, so bootlicker and nerd-swallower become some sort of dangly-tongued microscopic pipefish with rad specs. Cute, but I miss the back tentacles. This one's text says it's a good student, so, I guess this is the germ that makes you into a teacher's pet.
Next we get this fat, gluttonous ball whose most interesting feature is what he's eating. A bone and a human hand?? How? I thought these were microscopic! Did a researcher meet some hideous fate after testing his shrink-ray? We may never know. If you haven't guessed, this is a germ associated with fat buildup and gluttony.
This stripey, oddly reptilian germ doesn't seem to have much going for it besides a grotesquely swollen belly, but google translate says, and I quote, "tummy grows potatoes."
Yep, these two germs fused and they're still chewing on that same mangled body, or at least storing it in some kind of new digestive pouch.
Koffing! Koffiiiing! I'm going a little out of order here, really just to show you the stinkers on the first page. It's pretty obvious what this germ does from its design and name. I've always enjoyed creatures that look like craterous meteors or naval mines.
It's apparent later in the set that this grumpy amoeba represents stinky sweat, a rhyme I didn't intend to make but am going to leave be. I guess scientifically, this would be just some sort of skin bacteria. When you squint, he looks like a decorated pine tree. I wish they really were just amoebae with hairy pits. That's my kind of festive.
This one, of course, causes foot odor, and is part of a three-way morph with the last two. Ooh. That can't be pleasant!
Really combining the best features of all three stench-germs, this is definitely my favorite fusion, the ultimate rancid, gaseous, sweaty, funky stinker, merilly hopping through your bodily orifices as it leaves a sticky trail of its malodorous excretions!
This next germ seems to be nothing but an ugly, long-eared head with a hilarious, giant unibrow and bunny-ears. Actually, this one looks a lot like some slovenly cousin to Ickis from Real Monsters. A lot of these germs would fit right in to their world. The text says this is found in those who "never study." An ignorance germ!
This tapering booger, meanwhile, is found in those who are generally lazy. This is an especially germ-like germ. Without the arms and face you would have a reasonably accurate representation of many bacterial species.
This little guy, on the other hand, is found in people who sleep during class, but still isn't a combination of our last two. Instead, all three combine into our next one, though it's not an especially interesting design:
Yep, just lazy with ears and a nightcap, almost a copy/paste job, except I don't think that existed when these were made. I guess it makes sense for the laziest germ to have the laziest art.
Card 56 is a repeat of tubby from the previous page, but heck, let's include those anyway. He's drawn a little more dynamically, and still munching on quantum impossibilities - now with a beer bottle! No wonder Doctor Shrinkenstein got himself eaten. Let this be a lesson to everyone about drinking in the bloodstreams of filthy little children.
This germ's name implies that it's the enemy of the bulbous man-eater...and translation says it prevents you from opening the refrigerator. Does...does he hurt you or something? Does he spray acid from his dribbly nose and bite your fingers off with his jagged teeth? That's more than a little excessive. Maybe you should just accept yourself for who you are before resorting to giant fridge-door bacteria demons.
Attracting flies with its terrible stench, this snotty trumpet-faced critter causes "fear of the shower," or a refusal to bathe. As a paranoid hygiene freak this is probably one of the worst "germs" I can imagine, but I can't fault the little guy for what he is and how he lives, especially when he's so damn adorable.
Dirty-germs foil - perhaps antibody? Is that what these are? - is another meteoric looking blob, with pretty interesting organic showerhead appendages. I'd already live in the shower if I could, but if we cleaned ourselves with little monsters like this, you'd really never get me out of there.
I...what? EUGH. The Germ here, associated with disgusting food residue in your teeth, is just sort of average for these guys, but what the hell is wrong with this person? Why do they have lizard eyes? Why have they been eating tiny bottles and cans? Are they a giant? Did they eat a tiny village??
Juntamorfidentis is kept in check by a fairly logical toothpick-like critter, even if filthy teeth are the least of my concerns with the mutant ogre-man. I like the curly tail, like this thing just springs itself clear through its germ victims.
Oh man. Another germ with a mouthful of tiny garbage, though there's a little more emphasis here on the idea, with this being a bad breath germ, and the design is just darling. Wiggly eye-stalks are the quickest route to my heart, especially tipped with yellow eyeballs, my favorite monster eyeball coloration, and adorable long lashes!
What?! Oh no you don't! What'd Alientexmortalis ever do to you, you bully? If brushing my teeth murdered millions of Alientexmortalis I don't know if I'd have the heart anymore.
On the other hand, few things bother me worse than having unclean teeth.
Gasisforteolorum gets an extra card of its own, and again, much more exciting artwork. The more jagged mouth is a little cooler, too, though you know where this is going already...
Why do almost all the antibodies look like such jerks? I mean, Gassy doesn't look too friendly, but that's in more of an endearing, grumpy animal kind of way. This test-tube looking dweeb just seems like an aggressive tool. Luckily, he's the very last of them; from here on out, disease rules uncontested.
Caranchusnidis is apparently responsible for messy or overgrown hair, and has the most hilarious look of utter frustration in the whole bunch. This little dude has snapped. Maybe he's seen one too many of his friends impaled on jumping toothpicks. Or maybe he's just jealous of the next guy's awe-inspiring beauty. I would be, too, if I had to sit behind him in a sticker album forever.
What'd I tell you? Caraculusfortex is immaculate. It has a butt for a face and a dangling amoeboid puddle of a body and together they form a creature in the shape of a leaking butt. This is it. This is the absolute pinnacle of evolution. Its text only apparently says that it's something "disagreeable." I fail to see how that's possible.
Rugusmultiplex is pretty interesting, resembling a creepy, aging alien monkey-face at the center of a fleshy spider web. It'd make a pretty terrifying monster, really, and it already is for a lot of people; it causes wrinkles!
Now, this one really looks like one of the Worlds of Wonder "Germs" toys; specifically Yoggayoggyitus, the "Yawn" Germ, and even their concepts are complementary; this little guy is found in "boring" people! I don't know how anyone could be boring with groaning warty pickle-monsters in their bloodstream. The way it plays "cat's cradle" with a spiderweb is some incredibly cute multi-layered symbolism; this might be one of my very favorites.
Next comes story time! Horrible, horrible story time!
At this point, the cards take a detour into some short narratives about a filthy, disgusting human family, apparently infested with every single germ in the set. I'll be skipping most of the story scenes between germs, but at least check them out in the full album scans back on the first page! It's incredible just how revolting these cartoon people are, while the microorganisms responsible for their nauseating hygiene are such charming, whimsical creatures in a vibrant and colorful world. In other words, a spot-on representation of reality.
Did I ever mention I'm actually a bit of a germophobe? I get sick more often and detest it at least slightly more than any normal person. My entire childhood was a continuous chain of fevers and infections until I was finally homeschooled, and even today, I come down with a cold like nothing. As much as I love rotten, grimy, slimy monsters, the body fluids of strangers and what may lurk therein are my single greatest fear in life, and the very sight of snot can make me retch. This giant puzzle is pretty much what the outside world looks like in the back of my mind. This artist did a fantastic job.
Anyway, back in the microverse, we've got this saw-beaked protist, unnamed, apparently living in the filthy dad's sinuses, sawing away at his nose-hairs to make him snore. It's a funny concept, and a really cool design.
This one is explained later as Nervisflojum, a nervousness germ. It's a little more ambiguous why he's here, but might just assist the snore-germ in some way. I love its crazy eyes.
Even more snoring, I presume, since that's all filthy dad keeps doing between these shots. I'm not sure if this little creep is slurping up or producing mucus, pretty gross either way, but I'd probably still pat him on his cute little buggy-eyed fly head.
As filthy dad tosses and turns, we see armpit sweat again, doing what he does best! Merry Christmas!
No mistaking this one. This germ causes our restless sleeper to wake up and hurl. Ugh. Still another really cool design, with its huge puking mouth-tube and colorful flatworm-like body.
Sorry, had to share.
Having already had her gastric facial yesterday, filthy mom is driven by her violence germ, Violentistrompasus, to sock filthy dad right in the face. Yeah, I would too. Not much to this design, but it definitely looks like angriness.
No real clues are given for this one, unless it's supposed to be a fusion of the three "snoring" germs, though it doesn't quite look like it. I like the scaly, pineapple-like head, which apparently protrudes from the middle of a big circular sucker-mouth.
All the ruckus drives filthy teen to tears, with a little help from a truly miserable sadness germ. At least, that's what we're lead to assume, but I'd look like this too if I lived in one of these people. Things get worse, though, as the baby wakes up - a lot worse.
This is Diarreicusabundantis, and I think you know damn well what that means. Did I mention I'm especially horrified of the pestilence continually emanating from children? Truly horrendous, but another endearing design. You can't go wrong with anything that looks like a living intestine! Well, I guess until it causes this to happen:
Hurl. I like how the baby almost looks like a huge representation of its own diarrhea germ. I'm pretty sure that's actually true of some babies.
Well, most babies.
As the family eats an equally filthy, repulsive breakfast, we get to see this delightful belching-germ, like some sort of tubular, warty alien moose-chicken. Of course that's where burps come from!
I'm not sure what this one is supposed to be, maybe just a glimpse of something passed on by the teen's belch, which does send bits of food flying all over his mom. Ew ew ew.
Breakfast time ends when a single, innocent little fly treats itself to a snack, which these wretched beast-people find simply too disgusting.
Love the irony here. Whenever I tell people I'm afraid of germs, I often hear "but you like bugs!" ...as though I have even remotely as much to fear from insects as I do from the phlegm-caked fingers of my own species. Our bodies swarm with about a million things that specifically evolved to infect our own kind. It's technically safer to give any random cockroach a big, wet smooch than it is to just shake hands with someone.
Our next tale of terror takes place on a schoolbus, and oh god, can I relate. Some of my foulest, most traumatizing childhood memories involved the mucus, spit and far worse expelled from other children on long, hot bus rides, made worse as more and more children figured out just how easy I was to nauseate. To add insult to injury, my house was only a five minute drive from school, but the bus route looped around for half an hour before getting there. That's just the start of how miserable my experiences with other children always were, but we're getting off track here...
As filthy teen prepares for his day, we get to see the thing that lives in his belly button lint! Love that fuzzy, slug-like design with the comical, tubular beak, and look how huge it is! How does he not even notice?!Again, not sure if we're seeing something feed or deposit.
This forgetful germ is Memorisflojum, and has something or other to do with filthy teenager's upcoming field trip. Does anyone actually still tie a string to their finger anywhere? I remember when this was referenced all the time in cartoons.
Here's another freaking adorable one and an instant classic, though it's also the single most revolting visual allegory in the series. This "germ" embodies the pain you experience while waiting too long to use the bathroom. It has a turtle head. Oh god. Was that even intentional? Do they have that saying in Spanish? A huge, blue, embryonic snapping-turtle head bursting out of a way too small body. A body kind of shaped like a cannon, unless I'm reading into it too much. I choose to.
Missing his chance to use the toilet after filthy dad fell asleep on it, filthy teen manages to back things up and proceeds on his long, torturous bus ride to the zoo, where he starts to get some funny feelings about the little heartbreaker he's seated with. Funny feelings which, of course, have their very own germs!
The first "love" germ, or Namoratoromanticus, looks an awful lot like the butt monster from earlier, just a little...everted. More heart shaped. Maybe a little more gonad-shaped. Are they saying love is like a distended butt? I guess it...could be...
Babexcalentis joins in the romance, as the snotty brat starts gearing up for a kiss. Oh no. No. No no no. Just run, little girl. Defenestrate yourself if you have to.
Don't do it. Don't even think about it. Someone should break you.
The little weasel is finally driven over the edge by this pug-ugly brute, Comocerebris, chomping down on his brain in a pretty fair euphemism for raging teenage hormones. And then...the unthinkable.
Oh god no. If I was this little girl I would find a jug of bleach to gargle. The ears packed with wax are almost worse than the runny nose.
The girl faints thanks to our old friend Alientexmortalis, looking as lovely as ever to lighten the mood.
Angry germ shows up again, with a drunken swagger, when at least one kid gets the right idea and tries to throw a punch at our malodorous molester.
Unfortunately, his aim is more than a little off. He punches out the driver, and the bus spirals out of control as he's knocked out.
...Which, apparently, involves the germ Blandongodebilex. Wow. We have a germ for losing consciousness when we're hit too hard? These are getting even more abstract than I thought they would.
The bus careens its way into the Zoo, colliding with an elephant inexplicably walking loose around the grounds, and as the grimy bastard is hurled from his seat...the unthinkabler happens....
...We all know who this is. Oh no. Ohhhh no....they wouldn't show it....would they?
Oh yes. They would. They would to the tenth power.
We don't get to see any new germs after this point, but we do get to see some deliciously appropriate karma as the teen lands in a festering pig pen and it's the pig that gets rescued. I guess they were afraid he might molest it. The message is pretty clear, and it's one I strongly support. The Germs of the Body may look like the pets of my dreams, they may make me wish that actual microorganisms had buggy eyeballs and grumpy teeth, and they may make me long for a gateway to some microbial land of fantastical adventure, but nobody wants to be like the booger-dribbling, rancid deviants they call home.
I...kind of want to take another shower already.
...And, fun fact, which I am actually writing in to this several years later: I ACTUALLY came down with a godawful throat infection as I wrote this review, which lasted for at least two weeks of fever, tonsil sores, and a secondary fungal infection. No joke.