Ghetto Gumby


I don’t know, man.  Life is just plain strange.  


Because every once in a while, the moon, the stars and the planets, big and small, align just right, allowing seekers to find the weirdness they seek. 

I was in the midst of my Monday morning ritual…at my computer, looking for a job while weeping and gnashing my teeth when a notion entered my frenetic thought processor and wouldn’t let go.

Don’t ask me why, but I started thinking about “Gumby”, the cranially lop-sided, green clay figure, gumbywho along with his poney pal, Pokey used to entertain my era of pre-pubescents with the most basic of stop motion animation.  

Gumby is the brain child of Art Clokey, a  student studying film at USC in 1953.   The first effort was a three minute student film project called “Gumbasia”, modelled in parody form after Walt Disney’s vast,  full- spectrum opium addiction we now know to be  “Fantasia”.   

Clokey’s wife suggested that the character of his student project be something akin to the Gingerbread man.   With that in mind, Clokey came up with a clay figure he named Gumby and colored the little fellow green simply because  that was Clokey’s favorite color. Gumby’s legs and feet were made wide for pragmatic reasons: they ensured the clay character would stand up during stop-motion filming. The famous slanted shape of Gumby’s head was based on the hair style of Clokey’s father in an old photograph.

I had no idea that the Gumby series, was 233 episodes long and ran off and on for 35 seasons.   I remember it from watching Captain Gus,  a children’s afternoon cartoon aggregate show on the CBS affiliate in San Antonio back in the early to mid-’60’s.     This makes the show far more prolific than I thought it was.

I had a Gumby and Pokey dolls, action figurines, whatever the hell we called them.  They’d go to school with me and I played with them at recess, when of course, it wasn’t baseball, jacks or jump rope season. 

Gumby walked by sliding on one leg and knew no boundaries.  He could merely schlep through any book, door or wall just by entering it.    Of course, the toy version didn’t do any of that.  But we loved them in spite of their limitations.    

Remember how that rubber smelled when you first removed your Gumby from his plastic casing?   All chemically and stuff?   Remember too that invariably after use, a wire would eventually poke through Gumby’s arms or Pokey’s legs?   Also, did anyone else discover that Gumby’s feet could serve as a hell of an pencil eraser in a pinch?

I was thinking of Gumby Monday morning, perhaps because I didn’t want to think  about an impending meeting with the IRS.,  and I ended up wasting the morning doing  a little recon on this bendable green icon of my childhood.   While looking for the show’s original intro, I found something so unique, tso funny that I elected to include it in this post instead of standard issue litany of video memories.

This is called “Ghetto Gumby” and it lasts about two minutes too long, but it’s just so,  so….different than anything Gumby Daddy, Clokey would’ve wanted or could’ve envisioned for his animated and  mass-marketed brainchild.

Then again, if the vulgar colloquialism fits………



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