I just learned from Wikipedia that Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby and a pioneer of stop-motion animation, died this morning at the age of 88. I watched Gumby a lot as a young child and was enamored with its crude but energetic animation style, along with its bursts of metafiction and surrealism (even if I didn’t know it at the time). Although the quality of its episodes was uneven, it was a show unlike any other, and it set the standard for future claymation programming.
Clokey also created another landmark claymation series, Davey and Goliath; though not as outwardly imaginative as Gumby, it was still entertaining in its moralistic, squeaky-clean way, and apparently broke racial boundaries in television. Though frequently (and deservedly) mocked for its sermonizing, one of its many parodies became a great tribute to Clokey’s style in the form of the bitterly satirical Adult Swim series Moral Orel.
I’ve written about Clokey on this blog before, and have a great appreciation both for his talents and for his great effect on the animation industry. It seems there’s a documentary about his life entitled Gumby Dharma; I’d love to see it if it’s available online. As we mourn Clokey’s passing, I thank him for hours of creative, unusual animation I’ve enjoyed over my life.
If you’ve got a heart, then Art Clokey’s a part of you.