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Gumby #1

Written by Bob Burden and illustrated by Rick Geary
Wild Card Ink
36 pages, $3.99

 

Panel from Gumby #1, ©whoever owns Gumby. (Note to self: You should probably look this up.)

 

Some two decades ago, Comico published the Gumby Summer Fun Special, a one-shot starring the classic clay-animation children's-show character, written by Flaming Carrot creator Bob Burden and illustrated by fan-favorite artist Art Adams. A second title, the Gumby Winter Fun Special, was published a year or so later (this time written by Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell), after which Comico went under and the fledgling series was forgotten.

Forgotten, that is, until now: Along comes publisher Wild Card Ink, reviving the character for comics with Burden once again in tow, this time abetted by cartoonist Rick Geary. The results are about what you'd expect. Burden's imaginative sense of whimsy is given free range upon which to play, resulting in a tale of young "like" (our stars having yet to reach puberty, love really isn't an issue yet), impromptu hat dances and obnoxious circus clowns on the loose.

Set against a strange and engaging backdrop of giant fire hydrants, telephones and children's blocks serving as Gumby's hometown — the perfect landscape for a children's comic — Burden and Geary concoct an ambling, agreeable story that thrives upon character interaction more than plot. There is a plot, but it's mostly there to provide structure from which to hang a string of short comic episodes. The results aren't particularly astonishing or noteworthy, but then you really couldn't say that about any individual Little Lulu comic John Stanley ever wrote, either. That's not the point: The point is to craft a satisfying, accessible children's comic that entertains and stimulates the imagination. Burden and Geary succeed in doing just that. It's not often that you actually find much at your local comics shop suitable as a gift for the child in your life; if that's what you're looking for at the moment, snap this comic up immediately.

 

This essay appeared on the then-website of The Comics Journal sometime between 2006 and 2008.

 

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