Gumby in the episode "Lost Treasure"
|Original work||Gumbasia (1953)|
|Films and television|
Gumby is an American clay animation franchise, centered on a green clay humanoid character created and modeled by Art Clokey. The character has been the subject of two television series as well as a feature-length film and other media. Since the original series' run, he has become well known as an example of stop motion clay animation and an influential cultural icon, spawning many tributes, parodies, and merchandising.
Gumby follows the titular character and his adventures through different environments and times in history. Gumby's principal sidekick is Pokey, a talking orange pony. His nemeses are the Blockheads, a pair of humanoid, red-colored figures with cube-shaped heads, who wreak mischief and havoc. The Blockheads were inspired by The Katzenjammer Kids, who were always getting into scrapes and causing discomfort to others. Other characters are Prickle, a yellow dinosaur who sometimes styles himself as a detective with pipe and deerstalker hat like Sherlock Holmes, and Goo, a flying blue mermaid who spits blue goo balls and can change shape at will. Also featured are Gumby's dog Nopey, whose entire vocabulary is the word "nope," and Gumby's parents, Gumbo and Gumba. The later syndicated series in 1987 added Gumby's sister Minga and mastodon friend Denali.
Gumby was created by Art Clokey in the early 1950s after finishing film school at University of Southern California. Clokey's first animated film was a 1953 three-minute student film called Gumbasia, a surreal montage of moving and expanding lumps of clay set to music in a parody of Disney's Fantasia. Gumbasia was created in a style Clokey's professor Slavko Vorkapić taught at USC called Kinesthetic Film Principles. Described as "massaging of the eye cells," this technique of camera movements and editing was responsible for much of the Gumby look and feel. In 1955 Clokey showed Gumbasia to movie producer Sam Engel, who encouraged him to develop his technique by animating figures into children's stories.
Clokey moved forward producing a pilot featuring the character Gumby, which derived its name from the muddy clay found at Clokey's grandparents' farm that his family referred to as "gumbo". The look of Gumby was inspired by a suggestion from his then-wife Ruth (née Parkander) that Clokey base his character on The Gingerbread Man. The color green was then chosen because Clokey saw it as a racially neutral color, as well as being a symbol of life. Gumby's legs and feet were made wide for pragmatic reasons: they ensured the clay character would stand up during stop-motion filming. The famous slanted shape of Gumby's head was based on the hair style of Clokey's father Charles Farrington in an old photograph.
NBC executive Thomas Warren Sarnoff saw and loved Clokey's first pilot and had Clokey make another one ("Gumby on the Moon"). This became a huge hit on Howdy Doody, leading Sarnoff to order Gumby his own series in 1955 entitled The Gumby Show. In 1955 and 1956, 22 eleven-minute episodes aired on NBC. Gumby's voice was originally provided by Ruth Eggleston, wife of the show's art director Al Eggleston, until Dallas McKennon became the primary voice of Gumby in 1957. Because of its variety-type format, the show not only featured Clokey's puppet films but interviews and games as well. During this time, the show went through a succession of two hosts: Robert Nicholson ("Nick") and Pinky Lee.
In 1959, the show entered syndication and more episodes were later produced in the 1960s. Production continued through 1968, by which time Norma MacMillan voiced Gumby. On some occasions during this time, Gumby's voice was provided by Ginny Tyler and Dick Beals.
Beginning in 1982, Eddie Murphy began a parody of Gumby on Saturday Night Live. According to Murphy’s parody, when the television cameras were turned off, the sweet Gumby reverted to his true self: a cigar chomping, irascible celebrity who was highly demanding of the production executives. Whenever the executives refused to give into his demands, Gumby would assert his star status by saying “I’m Gumby, dammit!”
This renewed interest led to a new incarnation of the series consisting of ninety-nine brand new 7-minute episodes produced for television syndication in association with Lorimar-Telepictures in 1987–1989. Dallas McKennon returned as the voice of Gumby in the new adventures that would take Gumby and his pals beyond their toyland-type setting and establish themselves as a sing-a-long band. The show also included new characters, such as Gumby's little sister Minga and a mastodon named Denali.
In addition to the new episodes, the classic 1950s and 1960s shorts were re-run as part of the series, but with newly recorded soundtracks, with the voices re-recorded and the original music replaced by Jerry Gerber's synthesizer score from the 1988 series. Clokey's rights to use the original Capitol Records production tracks could not be renewed at the time, due to legal issues.
1990–present: Feature film and reruns
In 1995, Clokey's production company produced an independently released theatrical film, Gumby: The Movie (a.k.a. Gumby 1), marking the clay character's first feature-length adventure. In it, the villainous Blockheads replace Gumby and his band with robots and kidnap their dog, Lowbelly. The movie featured in-joke homages to such sci-fi classics as Star Wars, The Terminator, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Starting in 1992, TV channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network aired re-runs of Gumby episodes. In 1998, the Gumby episode "Robot Rumpus" was featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
On March 16, 2007, YouTube announced that all Gumby episodes would appear in their full-length form on its site, digitally remastered and with their original soundtracks. This deal also extended to other video sites, including AOL. In March 2007, KQED-TV broadcast an hour-long documentary "Gumby Dharma" as part of their "Truly CA" series.
- Dallas McKennon: Gumby (1957, 1960–1966, 1987-1989), Pokey (1960–1966), Gumbo (1960-1968), Prickle (1967–1968), Professor Kapp (1964-1989), Denali (1987-1989), Henry (1987/redubbed 1964), Rodgy (1987/redubbed 1964), Additional voices
- Dick Beals: Gumby (1960-1966), Additional voices
- Ginny Tyler: Witty Witch (1962), Additional voices
- Norma MacMillan: Gumby (1967–1968), Pokey (1967–1968), Goo (1967-1968)
- Ruth Eggleston: Gumby (1955-1956), Gumba (1955-1968)
- Art Clokey: Pokey (1955-1989), Prickle (1967–1989), Gumbo (1955-1989), Additional voices
- Don Messick: Henry (1964), Rodgy (1964), additional voices
- Gloria Clokey: Goo (1987-1989)
- Janet McDuff: Gumba (1987-1989), Additional voices
- Holly Harman: Minga (1987-1989), Additional voices
- Hal Smith: Additional voices
Reception and legacy
Beginning in 1994, the Library of Congress used Gumby as a spokescharacter due to a common sequence in the show where Gumby walks into a book and experiences the world within the book as a tangible place. This then led to a traveling exhibit called Adventures into Books: Gumby's World, a promotion for the Center for the Book's national reading campaign from 1997 to 2000. By the end of the 90s, Gumby and Pokey had also appeared in commercials for Cheerios cereal, most notably Frosted Cheerios.
On August 4, 2006, the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta opened Art Clokey's Gumby: The First Fifty Years, an exhibition featuring many of the original Puppets and sets; along with screening the films of Art Clokey. The event, conceived by David Scheve of T.D.A. Animation and Joe Clokey of Premavision was one of several exhibits that opened around the country, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of The Gumby Show. The children's book Gumby Goes to the Sun was also published that year to coincide with the anniversary. Written and illustrated by Clokey's daughter, Holly Harman, the book was originally created in the 1980s.
On October 12, 2011, Google paid tribute to Art Clokey’s 90th birthday featuring clay balls transforming into characters from Gumby. The doodle was composed of five clay balls in the Google colors placed beside a toy block with a "G" on it. Clicking any of the balls revealed the Blockheads, Prickle, Goo, Gumby, and Pokey.
Various Gumby merchandise has been produced over the years, the most prominent item being bendable figures. Several single packs and multi-figure sets by Jesco (later Trendmasters), as well as a 50th anniversary collection, have been made of the Gumby characters. Also included in the Gumby merchandise catalog are plush dolls, keychains, mugs, a 1988 Colorforms set, a 1995 Trendmasters playset, and a Kubricks set by Medicom. A tribute album, Gumby: The Green Album, produced by Shepard Stern was released in 1989 through Buena Vista Records.
In August 2005, the first video game featuring Gumby, Gumby vs. the Astrobots, was released by Namco for the Game Boy Advance. In it, Gumby must rescue Pokey, Prickle, and Goo after they are captured by the Blockheads and their cohorts, the Astrobots.
The Gumby images and toys are registered trademarks of Prema Toy Company. Premavision owns the distribution rights to the Gumby cartoons, having been reverted from previous distributor Warner Bros. Television in 2003, and had licensed the rights to Classic Media until September 30, 2012. At this time, Classic Media was officially acquired by DreamWorks Animation and branded as DreamWorks Classics.
- Felch, Jason (January 9, 2010). "Art Clokey dies at 88; creator of Gumby". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
- "The Blockheads". Gumbyworld.com. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- "Pokey: Gumby's Best Pal". Gumby.com. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- "Prickle and Goo". Gumby.com. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- Lloyd, Robert (July 9, 2006). "Even now, Gumby has that special dimension". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
- Gladstone, Jim (October 12, 1989). "Musical Feat Of Clay: A Gumby-based Album". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Interstate General Media. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Harary, Keith (October 1994). "The World According to Gumby". Omni (magazine).
- "Gumbasia". KQED. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- "History of the Studio - 1950's". Premavision. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- Gaylord, Chris (October 12, 2011). "Art Clokey: How Gumby got his name". The Christian Science Monitor. Christian Science Publishing Society. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Marchesi, Robina (Director) (2006). Gumby Dharma (Documentary).
- A. Schneider (March 25, 2002). "Gumby, a segment of NPR's "Present at the Creation" series". NPR. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- Quintanilla, Michael (August 13, 1993). "Feat of Clay : Pop culture: Who would have thought a stretchy green blob could entertain generation after generation? Don't look now, but lovable Gumby is 40 years old.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- "Art Clokey Interview". Emmy TV Legends. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. July 19, 2001. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
- "Art Clokey". KQED Public Media for Northern California. Retrieved February 6, 2009.
- "Gumby's Name, Personality and Voice". GumbyWorld.com/Premavision. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- Butler, Kevin S. "Gumby on TV". Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- "Gumby Show, The". Toonarific Cartoons. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
- Perlmutter, David (March 18, 2014). America Toons In: A History of Television Animation. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 104.
- McLaughlin, Erin. "Dick Beals, Voice of Speedy Alka-Seltzer, Gumby Is Dead". ABC News. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Tomashoff, Craig (April 2, 2013). "Celebrate Eddie Murphy’s Career With A Streampix Salute". Xfinity. Comcast. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- "82i: Eddie Murphy / Lionel Richie". Saturday Night Live Transcripts. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
- Solomon, Charles (December 17, 1986). "Cartoon Cassettes To Animate The Holidays". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
- James, Caryn (June 12, 1987). "Movie Review - The Puppetoon Movie (1987)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
- Lenburg, Jeff (June 1, 2006). Who's Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film and Television's Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. Applause Books. p. 51.
- Meyers, Paul (1989). "The return of Gumby". Post Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Quintanilla, Michael (November 27, 1993). "For Feat of Clay, He's Left a Lasting Impression". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2010.
- "Episode 912- The Screaming Skull". Satellite News. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
- Arrington, Michael (March 16, 2007). "YouTube Troubles Are Over: They Got Gumby". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
- "Gumby Dharma: Truly CA". KQED Public Media. March 27, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
- Miller, Mark K. (January 23, 2012). "Me-TV and Broadcast Partners Set Deal". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- "AniMe-TV". ME-TV Network. Weigel Broadcasting. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- TV Guide. April 17–23, 199. p. 74. Check date values in:
|date=, |year= / |date= mismatch(help)
- "Exhibit Supports 'Building a Nation of Readers'". Library of Congress Information Bulletin 57 (1). January 1998.
- Frosted Cheerios commercial (Television advertisement). General Mills. 1996. Event occurs at 0:20. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Frye, Shannon (July 2006). "Center for Puppetry Arts & Joe Clokey Celebrate Gumby's 50th Birthday" (PDF). Center for Puppetry Arts. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
- "Gumby Goes to the Sun". ISBN.Directory. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- "2007 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
- "Art Clokey 90th Birthday - Google Doodle". October 12, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Ehrbar, Greg (2006). Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records (First ed.). Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. pp. 182–183.
- "Gumby vs. the Astrobots - Gameboy Advanced". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- "Warner Bros. Television Distribution". World Public Library. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Lieberman, David (July 23, 2012). "DreamWorks Animation Agrees To Pay $155M For Classic Media". Deadline.com. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- Breznican, Anthony (July 23, 2012). "DreamWorks buys rights to 'He-Man,' 'Fat Albert,' 'Gumby,' 'Casper the Friendly Ghost' and other Classic titles". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Gumby's creator, Art Clokey|
- Official website
- Premavision/Clokey Productions
- The Gumby Show at the Internet Movie Database
- Gumby-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television
- Gumby Central at Facebook