Posted By Art Baxter

gumby-turkey

The GUMBY TV show is unfortunately not so great. He first appeared on TV in 1956 on the  HOWDY DOODY SHOW and graduated to his own show a year later. New episodes were produced through 1968. There was also a revival of new episodes in 1988. It's fun to watch the primitive claymation in the early shows but the stories are often unengaging and repetitive. Gumby's the schlemiel to Pokey's schlimazel. Gumby gets them in trouble and Pokey gets them out. Clokey and company were really cranking them out. The GUMBY show tended to get worse and worse as they got slicker and slicker. Frankly, the DAVEY AND GOLIATH series, also produced by Clokey in the early to mid 1960, are superior thanks to good scripts by children's book author, Nancy Moore. Ultimately, the problem was with the character and look of Gumby. He was an every-man but a pretty bland every-man. Because he is heavily abstracted he doesn't quite fit in almost any situation. Curiously, the GUMBY toy seems to transcend this problem. Still, there is a magic to these hand crafted clay characters moving around on cheap cardboard sets that I almost never get from computer animation. A visceral tangible quality of the fantastic made real.

I think one of the coolest things about the GUMBY show was it's great theme song. It's a catchy number that really gets you ready for a cartoon. It's a strange concoction of harp, electric guitar, drum set, children singing and xzylaphone. It starts slowly with a harp intro, then goes into a frothy pop confection. Here, listen for yourself. You can thank me three weeks from now when it's still running through your brain.

gumby-pokey

The GUMBY show has been released on DVD by RHINO several years ago and now fetches ridiculously high collectors prices. There have been a few "Best of" collections released on budget disks. There are no good books about GUMBY. There is one book, GUMBY: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY OF THE WORLDS FAVORITE CLAYBOY by Louis Kaplin and Scott Michaelson with Art Clokey. Aside from some good pictures, the text is pretty terrible and uninformative. I think Clokey is an interesting guy and one day a good book will be written. There is a new documentary on Gumby and Clokey called GUMBY DHARMA which I haven't seen yet but intend to.

You can find out more about the whole GUMBY/Clokey thang here and here.

Why not pose a GUMBY toy on Art Clokey's 87th birthday!

GUMBY and POKEY are © Premavision, Inc. and Prema Toy Co.


 
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