No matter who you are or where you live, surely you must have at least heard of Gumby, right? He’s a classic childhood icon for a lot of people, myself included. Admit it, many people reading this are old school Gumby fans. I will grudgingly admit that I have a Gumby tie tucked away in the dark recesses of my closet. So when I heard there was going to be a one shot, I flailed, died, resurrected and decided that I had to read this comic.
For those of you who have no idea who our green, wannabe Mr. Stretch hero is, Gumby was originally an American television show that started in late 1955. Using what’s now commonly called ‘claymation,’ stop motion clay animation, Gumby captured the hearts of many in his 233 episode stretch. So yes, he’s pretty old school, but that’s not really a bad thing. Despite being over 50 years old, Gumby is still popular enough for comics and merchandise. In fact, I just saw a Gumby bag in a store last weekend.
Gumby’s from a time of clear cut, simple, morally sound stories. The kind of stories you want your kids to read, but it’s one of those series that doesn’t have an age limit. Everyone from tiny children to grandparents have admitted to loving the show. Gumby’s always the good guy and he always wins. Unlike some heroes, there’s no question of whether Gumby would do the right thing; though I suppose in some respects that could be considered unrealistic. But that’s what Gumby was; he was a hero that would teach moral ethics to children while finding a way to expand their minds and keep it interesting. Part of the series charm was that no matter how difficult the situation, the writers would come up with a way for Gumby to win while always remaining the good guy. Some aspects are a little farfetched, but again, that’s what keeps me reading. I never know what they’ll come up with next. Take this one shot for instance. Where else will you find a story that combines pirates, Vikings, astronauts and the founding fathers of the United States?
This comic brings all the fundamentals and characters back from the past and slips them onto the page. Gumby, Pokey, and the Blockheads – everyone’s back and exactly how you remembered them. There’s a certain amount of comfort to be found in that. To keep from being redundant, Reilly has come up with a new twist for the citizens of Clokeyville. There’s a new player in town named Mr. Golfer. Can you guess what his favorite sport is?
I’m actually a little surprised at the amount of story they managed to squeeze into this one. You get to see Gumby encounter a vast array of people and completely ignore the fact that they were all from different time periods. There’s a quality of randomness that keeps you on your toes. You never quite know what’ll happen next. I rank it right next to Axe Cop in that respect, so if that’s a series you’re into, I can guarantee you’ll love this comic. You can’t really take it seriously, it’s just meant to be adventurous fun. I mean, there was Thaddeus Boom-Boom Microphone who was eagerly awaiting a dinner of French-fry pie and chocolate igloo.
There were quite a few inside jokes throughout the issue that I’m guessing were made for the adults in the audience. Things like Benedict Arnold being a traitor or King-Monster, who was obviously a rendition of Godzilla, complete with ‘Gee-onk!’ roar. In one panel, it was actually stated that Benedict Arnold pulled a Han Solo. While I won’t spoil why, I will tell you that my inner nerd definitely got a kick out of that and the mention of blogging. I never thought I’d see the day that Gumby would include Star Wars and blogging references. New age Gumby with the same old ethics code. Unbeatable stuff really.
The artwork… well, this is going to sound really strange, but the art looks just like a big coloring book. I was getting subliminal messages to grab a pack of crayons the whole time I was reading this. I may print out a few pages and do just that. It’s all bold lines without any shading or a lot of detail. In a way, the art echoes Gumby; it’s just clean and simple. It’s very clearly drawn without the frills because it doesn’t really need it. Considering the wide array of things drawn, I feel the need to bow to the skills of Santillan. There were some really random things that needed penciled in that he managed to draw flawlessly. The art style didn’t waver in the slightest. The overall effect would have been better in color, but the black and white scheme didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book.
Overall, I obviously loved the comic. Reilly and Santillan combined the old Gumby and Company we all know and love and brought them into present day entertainment. Gumby is adventuresome fun built on solid moral ground with a lovable set of characters to boot. You can’t predict anything in this comic, but you’ll always be pleasantly surprised with a bold, new feat performed by the stretchable hero of Clokeyville. I would love an ongoing Gumby series, but it’s hard to say if they plan to continue further. Either way, this is definitely being added to my collection and I’d highly recommend you give it a chance.
Felicity Gustafson was born in Ohio and, after the astounding realization that there was more to do than look at trees and cows, she decided to become a nerd and got into comics, anime and video games. New to Comics Bulletin, she sticks mostly to reviewing things out of the horror and comedy genres. She spends most of her time working in the manufacturing industry, finishing her computer degree and steadfastly avoiding ham fat at all costs.