Gumby has been a welcome nightly visitor in my home over the last several weeks. I've collected up the dvd collections of The Gumby Show which have hit the shelves in recent years and I've dabbled in them, especially the early 50's material. Now I've just completed a thorough run-through of the series, but in a quite different way than I'd normally consume cartoons. Every evening when I retire, I cue up a few episodes of the classic clay animated series and enjoy them.
They have proven to be delightful devices to get my mind off the troubles of the day and to let me slip off to sleep with ease. Gumby and Pokey, and later Prickle and Goo are sometimes too sweet, but generally are just what the doctored ordered. The early stuff is so inventive and bizarre, it's as much about the sheer joy of making them as much as anything.
Later in the 60's the misadventures become more humdrum as plot overcomes the wild creativity of the early exploratory shows and we get a Gumby who has to share the stage with more and more characters. The inclusion of more human-looking characters seemed to undermine the weirdness of Gumby's universe at times, but made a bit of sense given the historical nature of many of the stories.
I especially enjoyed the mute Blockheads this time, as their menace was always present but their inept attacks were also always fun to watch.
There is a general Gumby revival these days, with the little clay boy and his amigos getting another comic book, thanks to the folks at Papercutz. I'm pretty tempted by this one, which is pretty bright and takes full advantage of the large cast of Gumbyworld.
There is also a new book titled Gumby Imagined out that I'm pretty eager to read about the early days of Gumby and the work of his creator Art Clokey on that and other projects such as Davey and Goliath.
The Gumby Movie has also been released. I'm sure I'll get hold of it eventually. I'm not student of the later Gumby material at all, but I'm curious about it for sure. These creations by Art Clokey have proven to have a durable life, longer than many others from the era. There is an adult sensibility about the shows which entertains children while not generally talking down to others. The 60's cartoons have bumpy moments for certain, but overall are still part of a great green saga which weirdly is greater than the sum of its parts.