I had the pleasure of meeting Art Cloakey quite a few years ago. He denied that Gumby advocated LSD and he seemed genuinely hurt by Eddie Murphy’s Saturday Night Live portrayal of the little clayboy.
“Gumby is an ambassador for all that is good and innocent in the world,” Cloakey said.
While Gumby himself brims with innocence, this innocence leads to some pretty terrifying places such as in the episode In the Dough where Gumby and Pokey are kidnapped and, for want of a better way to say it, violated by a couple of nasty jelly rolls. Because Clokey worked so closely to his subconscious there’s a surprisingly noir subtext to the show, typically brought out by Pokey. For instance, in the episode Santa Witch, some of the dialog could be straight out of a steamy detective novel – “wouldn’t you look cute with a ribbon wrapped around you.”
Just like the original Time for Beany show, Gumby works on deeper, and I think truer, levels than mass produced cartoons of today. It shows you what a little artistic genius can do.