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What the . . . Simon the Chalk-Drawing Kid?

September 7, 2012

*What the…Friday? is a weekly Friday feature in which I resuscitate a video relic from the swampy pits of Pop Culture Wasteland.*

Today:  What the Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings?

To bring you today’s WTF? feature I had to dig way, way, waaaaaay down deep into the flashback video vault — so deep that my shovel almost hit a rotting Lamb Chop and Mr. Hooper’s corpse.

Recently some of you shared a few of your beloved and not-so-beloved children’s books after my Wednesday post on Curious George and the Monkey Anus Chocolate.  So I was feeling rather nostalgic today for a video from my early childhood.

Enter Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings.

Simon was a little boy in England who created chalk drawings to entertain himself.  Or something.  And then they’d come alive.

I loved the cartoon as a kid, but I also found it dark and disturbing.  Sure, I often fantasized that my drawings of Rainbow Horny Wings, my hybridized Pegasus-unicorn, would also come alive and take me away to a land where cherry chapstick was served on silver platters.  I wanted to escape with my imagination too.

But never did I imagine such horrors as Simon did — car accidents, KGB takeovers, chalkpox.

A few months back, I was discussing Simon with a fellow Gen Xer, an English blogger chum named Richard, and I raised my glass of Tang to this fantastic import His People shipped over to us Yanks.

He had no idea what I was talking about.  Which might have something to do with our language barrier.  So I typed really slowly so it’d be easier for him to understand me.  And I shared this video with him.  Nothing.  Not a single spark of recognition.

How is that possible?  Am I imagining this?  You see it too, don’t you?

65 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2012 10:21 am

    I had tucked Simon way, way, way, way back in the Way-Back Machine. I loved the chalk drawings! You are not alone. I imagined it, too. :)

    • September 7, 2012 12:55 pm

      Oh, phew. Now if only I could prove the existence of Snuffleupagus.

      • September 7, 2012 4:35 pm

        Big Bird’s got your back on that. I can’t find many people that remember Seymour the Sea Monster.

  2. Emily Liston permalink
    September 7, 2012 10:26 am

    Oh my gosh!! I have been singing this Simon song my entire life!

    • September 7, 2012 12:56 pm

      What is it about this song? It’s an earworm so deadly that it resides in your head for 30 years.

  3. surroundedbyimbeciles permalink
    September 7, 2012 10:47 am

    Man, I forgot about Simon. Thanks for reminding me about one of the all time greats.

    • September 7, 2012 12:56 pm

      I can’t think of a single cartoon like it. It’s a real gem indeed.

  4. September 7, 2012 10:54 am

    Wow! I was excited to see this. The Simon song has stuck in my head for decades, and I don’t know why. I didn’t recall too much about the show. What I don’t recall, was whether this was something I watched during my childhood, or later, with my nephews, or with my own kids. Perhaps, Angie, you could give us a clue about when it aired? That would be great. Thanks for jogging my memory in a pleasant way.

    • September 7, 2012 12:59 pm

      Judging by the comments here, the song seems to be more memorable than the show. Another thing that will always stick in my head about this show is the sound effects — weird computer-like beeps and buzzing sounds, which I would expect were ahead of its time. At least three years before Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips!

  5. September 7, 2012 10:56 am

    I vaguely remember Simon and his chalk drawings, but that epic opening song stuck with me. I sing it from time to time and always think, where is that FROM? Thank you, Angie, for always knowing just what your readers need to see.

    • September 7, 2012 1:01 pm

      The song — yes, the song! Like a theme song from my weekday mornings growing up.

  6. September 7, 2012 10:58 am

    The Internet is a wondrous thing! I just looked it up and saw that it aired in the mid-70’s so it was a show watched by my kids. However, I think I liked it more than they did as I am a perpetual kid. Thanks again for bringing this up.

    • September 7, 2012 1:02 pm

      Thanks for this! I was wondering myself. I knew it was pretty far back. I didn’t see the show until the late 70s, when it aired on Romper Room.

  7. September 7, 2012 11:08 am

    How do you remember all this stuff?! Great blog! I’d completely forgotten that show! We do street painting/street art and I have a grown-up love affair with chalk pastels, so it’s great to see/remember this! Made my day!

    • September 7, 2012 1:18 pm

      I have no idea how I remember this stuff. I think the better question is why can’t I remember how to do algebra? And why can’t I remember anything I learned in college?

      I love seeing street and sidewalk chalk art! I would really enjoy doing that.

  8. September 7, 2012 11:09 am

    I LOVED Simon and his chalk drawings! I also loved Mike Myers’ SNL bit where he played the kid in the bathtub and sang the Simon song.
    “Well you know my name is Simon, and I like to do drawrings…”
    *sigh*
    Thanks for the great memory.

    • September 7, 2012 1:15 pm

      Yes, I loved that Mike Myers bit too. Though I always wished it would’ve stayed true to the original cartoon instead of Simon doing the drawrings in his bathtub. I will give it an A for effort.

  9. September 7, 2012 11:14 am

    When I was a little kid, I remember thinking Simon and his chalk drawr-ings were so weird. I didn’t know the words “low budget” yet, but I always equated Simon with the weird smelly kid in my class.

    • September 7, 2012 1:13 pm

      Every film created in the 1970s was low budget. Until George Lucas spent a record $500 on the making of Star Wars and the entire industry changed forever. But the smell is still there.

  10. September 7, 2012 11:35 am

    I loved that show, especially because I wanted to be a drawr-er.

    • September 7, 2012 1:09 pm

      It sounds even cooler when you say it that way. Yes, I was very much a drawrer back then too. Someday we’ll have to swap stories of our childhoods spent drawrring the day away.

  11. September 7, 2012 12:20 pm

    My TV must have been on the fritz for the entire decade that so shaped your formative years – never heard of this.

    • September 7, 2012 1:07 pm

      Either that or you were sucked into watching soaps all day. You know it’s true, Peg. Tell me, what happened between Luke and Laura during the 1979 season of General Hospital? Just what I suspected.

      • September 7, 2012 1:57 pm

        I WAS sucked in, against my will. I was in college in those days and everybody scurried back to their dorms to watch Luke & Laura. I remained above it all, but admit to knowing just a smidge about Doug & Julie during that time period.

  12. September 7, 2012 12:49 pm

    I saw the title of your post and immediately began singing the theme song. You would think that kid would learn to be more responsible with what he chose to draw, seeing as how they come to life.

    Maybe the narrator was an English import, not the show itself?

    • September 7, 2012 1:05 pm

      I believe I noticed last time I dug this up from the trenches that it cited a British production company at the end (or beginning?). Now I’ll have to watch the clip again to confirm. Which means I’ll end up watching another clip. And another. And, look at that, the day is gone. Why don’t I ever get anything done around my house?

  13. September 7, 2012 1:41 pm

    Wow. I clearly spent much of my childhood under a rock, because nothing about this rings a bell. Was this shown on PBS? If so, that explains it: we didn’t have a TV that received UHF channels (where our local PBS resided) until 1975. The second grade curriculum at my school seemed to be based entirely on The Electric Company, and I spent most of that year wondering what the heck the class materials were talking about.

    • September 11, 2012 8:13 pm

      Hilarious — I had a first grade school curriculum based entirely on PBS’ The Letter People. To this day, I can’t think of the letters in the alphabet without thinking of their corresponding puppets.

      I don’t think Simon was on PBS. I watched the show during Romper Room, which also played Paddington Bear. I think Simon was a syndicated show (made in England), so it probably ran on different channels and programs in the States.

  14. September 7, 2012 2:22 pm

    Do I know this?? Hellz yah! Simon haunted my dreams for years.

    • September 11, 2012 8:14 pm

      I knew I could count on you to remember! You never let me down, DarDar.

  15. September 7, 2012 7:58 pm

    OMG. I remember Simon. I think I liked it as a kid. Now . . . I’m scared, Angie.

    • September 11, 2012 8:15 pm

      And you should be. Liked it, feared it — what’s the difference?

  16. Tony permalink
    September 7, 2012 10:20 pm

    You suppose this whole thing was ripped off from the classic Harold and The Purple Crayon books? It’s somewhat similar.

    • September 11, 2012 8:17 pm

      Yeah, that sounds about right. Although Harold was lacking the all important pair of spectacles which lent credibility to Simon’s odd imagination.

  17. September 7, 2012 10:38 pm

    Great Post! As others have said this song tends to randomly pop up in my head from time to time (as well as the Ewoks cartoon theme…for some reason) thanks for the reminder. I loved that show. :)

    • September 11, 2012 8:19 pm

      The Ewoks cartoon theme — now that is what I call obscure! I don’t have even the faintest memory that an Ewok cartoon existed in the first place — although, of course it did.

  18. September 8, 2012 5:58 am

    Recently I was trying to recall Simon’s name. I could remember the cartoon, but my brain kept going to Harold and the Purple Crayon. Thanks for this. Whew!

    • September 11, 2012 8:20 pm

      You’re so welcome — that sort of brain clog could cause you a migraine. I wonder how humanity ever survived before Google? No wonder why people used to die so young.

  19. September 8, 2012 7:57 am

    Being about 15 years older (okay, maybe 30)….I have not recollection of this. We had Winky Dink.
    There was a piece of transparent film (think saran wrap) that stuck to your TV, and special crayons to draw stuff right on the TV. It was a connect-the-dots that would save Winky Dink somehow. My mother refused to let us have crayons anywhere near our big old temperamental set.
    Maybe it’s why I like to draw now. My revenge on Mom.

    • September 11, 2012 8:23 pm

      I have no idea what you’re talking about Nancy, but I’m feeling some serious retroactive envy right now. Winky Dink told you to color on the TV set? Are you sure this isn’t simply what you told your mom after the fact?

      And was this stuff how Saran Wrap was invented? Or the Password board game’s cellophane window?

      • September 11, 2012 8:40 pm

        Yes, Winky Dink told you to draw… something like a bridge, so that Winky Dink could cross the river and save the kitten. My mother wouldn’t let me get the screen saran thing. Actually, none of my friends’ mothers let them. I think it was a neighborhood mom conspiracy.

      • September 11, 2012 8:46 pm

        I think Winky Dink was conspiring something too.

      • September 11, 2012 8:49 pm

        If it makes you feel better, my mom never ordered Bill Cosby’s Picture Pages workbook. I couldn’t follow along with him like all the other kids watching from home.

        Years later when the Cosby Show came on the air, I was still bitter.

      • September 11, 2012 9:22 pm

        With the abuse we suffered at the hands of our mothers, it is a miracle that we are sort of sane.

  20. September 8, 2012 9:15 am

    I thought of the Simon played by Mike Meyer’s in SNL sketches. I don’t recall the chalk drawing Simon, but now I know what they were mocking! http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/simon/263261

    • September 11, 2012 8:27 pm

      You are right about that on the mocking thing. And I very much remember this skit! Although, until just now, I forgot about all the catch phrases that came out of it — like “Cheeky monkey” and “Are you looking at my bum, you bum-looker!”

      Yeah, the original Simon wasn’t that cheeky.

  21. September 8, 2012 9:52 am

    This is the first time, I think, that I’ve ever said this here unless you were talking about 90210 or something: I have absolutely no memory of this at all. Clearly it existed… but there’s not even a “Oh… hm… maaaaybe…” Just – nothing. I feel like a failure. I feel like I should turn in my Gen X badge and box of Fruit Brute cereal.

    • September 11, 2012 8:35 pm

      I’m so disappointed in you. Did you even grow up in the ’70s like you claim, Byronic Man? If that’s even in fact your name. I don’t know what to believe about you now.

      No, I won’t make you turn in your Fruit Brute cereal. I will make you give up your Boo Berry cereal — if you happen to have some. I haven’t seen a box of that stuff since 1984. It was the white buffalo of my childhood grocery trips.

  22. russelllindsey permalink
    September 8, 2012 10:30 am

    Wow Angie. I think you solved a huge childhood mystery for me. Remember me asking you about a TV series in which drawings came to life? I think this was it!

    Was there an episode that involved a spaceship?

    Also, was Chalk Drawings ever shown as a segment of other kids variety shows, shown extremely early on Saturday mornings?

    I’ve been trying to figure this out forever! LOL

    Either way, I’m pretty sure I remember this show.

    Your posts always bring back long-lost childhood memories.

    Lindsey

    • September 11, 2012 8:37 pm

      I do remember you asking me this — why didn’t I immediately think of this show as the obvious answer? Why, oh why! I’ve let you down, Lindsey.

  23. September 9, 2012 12:12 pm

    What always bothered me about this show was that Simon had all this power, and never managed to do anything truly interesting with it, or worthy of a more than 5 minute short. With great power comes great responsibility to entertain, I say, and I’ve always felt a bit let down by Simon.

    Oh, and on a more personal note, thanks – now that tune is stuck in my head. It may start to annoy me soon, but for now it’s a refreshing change from the “Song that Never Ends,” which has been slowly driving me insane for two weeks.

    • September 11, 2012 8:54 pm

      Yes! Way to cut right to the heart of the matter here, Jean-Francois. Simon could’ve been so much more — so much more to us. And by “us” I mean society.

      Why did I just now play The Song That Doesn’t End on YouTube — what am I, some kind of masochist or something?

      • September 12, 2012 11:27 am

        Consider that revenge for the tune you put in my head. [Laughing my best evil laugh, and rubbing hands together maniacally. This seems to be creeping out the cats.]

      • September 14, 2012 10:07 am

        My cats can hear you…and they’re scared too.

  24. September 10, 2012 12:39 am

    HA! I remember this cartoon loved it. Good post

    • September 11, 2012 8:39 pm

      Thank you for your comment! Yes, keep that memory alive — don’t forget! Simon is depending on us to remember him.

  25. September 10, 2012 10:56 am

    Yes I DO have disturbingly vague memories of this, which makes me wonder what else I’ve been repressing.

    Could you please offer a What-The-Therapy Mondays feature?

    • September 10, 2012 10:57 am

      I could have done much better on that. Hang on. What-the-Freud feature.

      A little better. Sorry, Nnng. Forgive me. I’ll work on it.

      • September 11, 2012 8:45 pm

        WHAT THE FREUD! There. That’s my new favorite exclamation. I might purposely spill hot coffee on my leg so I can try it out right away.

    • September 11, 2012 8:42 pm

      C’mon! I can’t offer therapy here, Jules — look at me. I’m a wreck. I write a blog to help justify my obsessive-compulsive reminiscing. I need help. Can you help me? I know from your blog that you have large quantities of vodka on hand.

  26. September 11, 2012 9:36 pm

    Oh.Dear.God. how I love your posts!!! I loved Simon and that oh-so-catchy tune and had not thought of it in eons. Blasts from the past are so fun ~ thanks :)

    • September 14, 2012 10:24 am

      Thank you! I’m glad you remember Simon! That makes me happy.

  27. September 18, 2012 8:37 pm

    Hey, wait. You mean Harold and the purple crayon wasn’t the first guy to draw the world around him? Wait — who came first. Or which was the chicken and which the egg?

    • September 24, 2012 11:00 pm

      I think it’s much too late for me to think this hard. But I will probably go to sleep tonight reciting the “Who’s On First” Abbott and Costello routine.

      • September 25, 2012 6:19 am

        As long as you don’t do the Three Stooges with all that whacking, you should be OK.

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