Medium: Clay animation
First appeared:
Art Clokey
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Animator Art Clokey started experimenting with clay animation in the early 1950s, producing a short titled Gumbasia in 1953. But to sell clay animation in series form, he needed two things that …

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… film lacked: Regular, appealing characters, and designs that could be easily reproduced when the clay became dirty from too much between-frames handling.

The solution was Gumby, who premiered in five-minute shorts on the Howdy Doody show in 1956. His voice was by Norma MacMillan, who also provided voices for Casper and Sweet Polly Purebred, Underdog's girlfriend. In 1957, Gumby and his horse, Pokey, became stars of their own show, hosted by Pinky Lee. Gumby and Pokey remained in the limelight well into the 1960s, but faded from view after that. Later, Clokey turned his attention to a religious clay animation series called Davey & Goliath.

But they didn't fade from their fans' memories. Gumby and Pokey (no relation) have been syndicated in obscure time slots, lampooned on Saturday Night Live, and even occasionally revived for the benefit of now-grown fans — for instance, in the oneshot comic books Gumby's Summer Fun Special (1987) and Gumby's Winter Fun Special (1988) by Bob Burden (Flaming Carrot) and Art Adams (X-Men); and in a sporadic series of 3-D comics published during the late '80s by Blackthorne Comics. As recently as 1995, Clokey produced a feature-length movie about Gumby.

Gumby may no longer appear on lunch boxes, but it does appear as though his fans will not forget him.


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Text ©2000-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Art Clokey.