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Gumby and Clokey

How did I miss this? Art Clokey died a year ago.

Yeah, you know — the man who gave us Gumby and Pokey. Among other psychedelic horrors.

After undergraduate work in geology and a stint in WWII, Clokey studied film under surreal filmmaker and master of the montage Slavko Vorkapich.

Cokey’s USC graduate project was a short clay animation called Gumbasia — a play on Fantasia. Watch it; it’s worth three minutes of your time.

The president of the Motion Pictures Producers Association saw Gumbasia and funded Clokey’s next project, which turned out to be Gumby.

Oh, and lest we forget, Art and his wife Gloria created the doll-based animations Davey and Goliath (admit it, the words, “oh, Davey” just went through your head in Goliath’s goofy-ass voice). Yeah. That’s weird, because Clokey was a Buddhist or some shit, and D&G was a product of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

I read that Davey appeared in a late Gumby cartoon acting like a dick, but I can’t find a copy of it online.

Gumby’s wonk-head was inspired by this picture of Clokey’s dad, who died in a car accident when Art was nine. As tributes go, that’s a weirdy.

I’m fascinated by Clokey’s work in particular and clay animation in general (the term “claymation” was trademarked by Will Vinton in 1978), mostly because it skeeves the hell out of me. In 1975, I sat through the Fantastic Animation Festival, like, seven times, mostly to see the short Closed Mondays over and over.

I tried my hand at stop-motion animation in my teens, but all I had available was a video camera. That’s no good at all — you get a little jump and snow whenever the heads start and stop, which is every frame. I soon gave up, so you’re spared that horror.

Anyhow, RIP Art Clokey. Here are some links:

The intro to Gumby Dharma, a documentary about Art Clokey. Mandala, another Clokey film for adults (really, really stoned ones). Clokey’s animated credits for Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965). A print interview of Art and Gloria from Omni. Part one of a six-part interview with Clokey. And finally, Marv Newland’s famous 1967 student animation Bambi Meets Godzilla — just because.


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: January 14, 2011, 10:46 pm

Ah! Thank you. I can now scratch one off my lifetime list of “great cultural icons I have never experienced.” (BmeetsG). And. . .it was actually much cooler than what was described to me 30+ years ago. . .

Comment from Jill
Time: January 15, 2011, 3:14 am

“Hey! That’s old-growth clay!”


Comment from Gromulin
Time: January 15, 2011, 3:34 am

I think that’s the first blog post I’ve ever bookmarked just for the links. Thanks! Spike & Mike’s sick and twisted festival of animation used to show up at the Crest Theater in Sacramento with that kind of stuff every year. Either I’m old and out of touch, they don’t advertise very well, or they don’t come to Sac anymore. Or, likely, all three.

I think we first saw Wallace and Gromit there, now that I think about it. (My moniker comes via my wife. It’s a conglomeration of Gromit and Romulin. Alcohol may have been involved.)

Comment from David Gillies
Time: January 15, 2011, 7:48 am

Uncle Badger: have you any idea what she’s banging on about? This is as baffling to a Brit as my reminiscing about Issi Noho or Hector’s House or Mary, Mungo and Midge would be to one of our transatlantic brethren.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: January 15, 2011, 11:05 am

He sure had a marvelous collection of Tonka trucks.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 15, 2011, 11:40 am

Not a damned clue DG!

I think it’s an artard thing.

Comment from Monotone The Elderish
Time: January 15, 2011, 7:51 pm

well, I may be a uncultured swine but…. wtf? That’s some wierd Claymation…. (gumbasia)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 15, 2011, 10:13 pm

Oh, for sure, Monotone. Clokey was creepy as hell, in all his endeavors.

Comment from Monotone The Elderish
Time: January 15, 2011, 10:45 pm

You know, in the right light, he kinda looks like a young nostrodamus…. That, Or I’ve watched too many of his movies……

Comment from David Gillies
Time: January 16, 2011, 5:57 am

I just had a sad thought. Mungo and Midge have been dead for decades and Mary (increasingly running to fat these days) shares her kids with her ex-husband and still lives in a horrible block of flats in some anonymous town. Richard Baker remains among us though, which is heartening.

Comment from FHB
Time: January 16, 2011, 8:43 pm

Loved all that shit when I was a kid. Had my Gumby and Pokey dolls, and used to watch Davey and Goliath too. Wonderful stuff. Just told my British Girlfriend, layin’ on the couch watching the football “The guy who invented Gumby and Pokey and Davey and Goliath died.” She said “What’s that? Never heard of it.” I shake my head in disgust.

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Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: January 17, 2011, 7:20 pm

Hmmmm. My first thought was “Art Clokey and the New Jazz Messengers?”

But apparently you are talking about some completely different guy. Well, you’re the artistikle type around here, so I defer to your knowledge.

Comment from Greg Toombs
Time: January 22, 2011, 11:35 pm

And Gumby was obviously Conan O’Brien’s inspiration.

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