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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.

January 14, 2011 — 9:37 pm
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