Or – “He’s Back, Dammit!”


I have a confession to make.  I am an internet nerd.  I remember BBSes, I played on the USENET years ago, and even had my own brush with Intarweb stardom.  Once upon a time, I was known on certain minor posting boards as “The Lizard King.”  My claim to mediocre fame was the creation of the “BMF List,” a list of fictional characters who were worthy of carrying Jules Winnfield’s famous wallet from Pulp Fiction, the one that said Bad Mother F&*#er.  One of the  earliest entries, indeed the one that I recall as inspiring it all, was a little clay dinosaur named Prickle, friend to Gumby the little clay boy.  I return now, to the fields of yore, to see if it’s really true that you can never go home again…

Previously, on Gumby:   This review is destiny…  It’s fate.  Confluence of forces conspired to make it happen.  Here’s the skinny: avery long time ago, my friend Bruce and I used to work for a crappy television sGum1.jpgtation in a backwater burg in Western Kansas.  (Hi, Stephen!)  As such, our work hours were strange and gelatinous things, leading us to occasionally sit in his basement apartment (roughly the size of my laundry room now) eating dollar pizzas and watching television.  For many people, all they know of Gumby is Eddie Murphy’s hilarious “washed-up-Catskills-comic-made-of-clay” routine, but Bruce and I used to sit and watch the Gumby show with the jaded eyes of college kids who know how the technology works, and we were fascinated by how much work went into the average stop-motion episode.  I remember those days fondly, even recalling the characters in my aforementioned BMF list, so Gumby will always have a place in my heart.  More recently, my daughter and I were haunting the comic shops of downtown Lawrence (in a conscious attempt to try and break my reviews out of “Big Two Superhero Title” mode) and Molly noticed a particular comic, pointing and laughing.  “Daddy!  There’s a puppy in that car and the boy is green!  You need this one!”  She handed me this issue of Gumby, and the clouds parted to reveal a shaft of golden light…  Aaaaah AHHHHH!  (That’s the sound of Angels singing, y’see…)  Thus was it revealed, and thus must it be spake.  It’s a review, dammit!

This issue starts as stories with Gumby should…  It just releases the clutch and we’re off!  Gumby and his pal pokey stand forlornly at the kitchen door, watching G’s parents doting over a pile of potatoes arranged in a Gumby-shape.  He laments that his parents don’t love him anymore, they just love potatoes!  I don’t know what that means, either.  Keep reading.  Some time later, Gumby sits on his porch, sighing away, and even the promise of a jumbo Heath bar can’t rouse him from his depression.  When the Bumblebrats, local ne’er do well kids (who remind me of the cartoon’s Blockheads) hear of this, they rush in and begin messing with Momma and Poppa Gum, and Gumby reveals that his parents have been hypnotized by an evil circus ringmaster (!) into believeing a sack o’ spuds was their kid (!!) so that he could become the star attraction at their traveling midway (!!!).  The Bumblebrats insist on playing with the potatoes, even throwing one in the pot that will house Gumby family supper.  “Oh, no!  His feet are cooking!” cries mother Gumby, and G-man and Pokey run the brats away.

Suddenly, the phone rings, and everything takes a turn.  While Mother explains to the police that hooligans rushed in and tried to boil her child’s limbs, Gumby gets a telemarketing call promising a huge prize.  The police realize that Mom and Dad are hypnotized, and offer the clay boy and friends a ride to claim their “huge prize.”  Gumby, Pokey, a bumblebrat and the girl next door then miss their bus (the bumblebrat was getting into mischief) and go to see their friend Professor Oppenheimer who has a helicopter (!!!!)  Oppie says that his life of science has become empty, and flies them all to Geronimo estates, where they meet Mr. Ponzi (HAH!) who welcomes “Mr. and Mrs. Grumby” (and the little girl swoons that they’re practically MARRIED while Gumby sweats) and introduces them to Geronimo.  No, really, THE Geronimo, apparently.  Mr. Ponzi makes veiled references to how “delicious” they all look, and suddenly the girl (whose name is revealed to be Cuddles) knows the truth: they’re dealing with CANNIBAL TELEMARKETERS!!!!

She kicks the monstrous administrator from the little tram he had been using to show them around, and they foursome takes of on a merry chase, racing about the estates before crashing through a wall and gathering a group of hungry salesmen in their chase.  The whole thing ends with Gumby and company in the lake, and the little clay boy is forced to save Cuddles, who can’t swim.  Her kiss leaves him speechless, and she cutely remarks “Now we can get married!”  Suddenly (the only way anything happens in this book) we see Oppenheimer and Geronimo squaring off on the top of a waterfall (!!!!!) fighting over the girl that they apparently clashed over years before, a beautiful woman named Dolores.  Geronimo calls upon the power of the cosmos, invoking spirit totems of the cockroach, the elk, the yage!  Oppenheimer is forced to retaliate:  “Unknown to the rest of the world, Oppenheimer, along with many oter top financial advisors, has LASER TEETH!”  Heh. 

“Suddenly, a giant pork chop appears above the wooded hills!”  Everyone gasps in horror, but Gumby leaps into action, transforming his personal clay self into a giant clay fork and scaring the porkchop into fainting.  Geronimo tells them his tale as our heroes drive away, explaining how he’s finally ready to go on to the next world.  When asked about working for cannibals, he brushes it off, saying “They were independent contractors!”  Heh.  He walks off into the woods, saying “Do not cry, little ones!  I have seen this in pip dreams and the smoke of lodge fires…  All things must pass, and what will be, will be…  But for one thing.  Where in the world did that giant porkchop come from?”  They return home, where Oppenheimer reveals (just like he saw on TV) that snapping his fingers frees the Gumby family from their trance.  Oppie leaves happy, and Gumy finally breaks it to Cuddles that he’s too young to get married, and she agrees.  We cut to black with the Bumblebrat “yeccch”ing at their sudden mushiness…

This issue is pure madness, actually, as would be expected from Bob Burden, the mind behind Flaming Carrot and the Mysterymen, and the plot careens like a Gumby cartoon, from point to point, with the action the only real reasoning behind it.  It’s well done, nicely plotted Burden madness with a satirical edge (though I wonder if it’s really as much for children as the art might have you believe) and Rick Geary’s art is clean and representative.  The jokes are very adult, and riddled with references for the over-educated (read: me) and the book is a very enjoyable read.  I honestly hadn’t realized that Gumby was back in comics form, but this issue has me watching for more of his adventures.  It’s a 3.5 out of 5 star ensemble, enjoyable, silly, and something that I was able to read to my daughter until she was distracted by the thought that princesses can’t have spaceships. 



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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