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Monday, January 11, 2010

Art Clokey, Creator of Gumby, Dead at 88


I was in 6th grade when my friend Jim and I decided to make an animated shot, inspired by the Gumby shorts that started running on Channel 57 (out of Philadelphia). But we didn't know where to start, or what to really do. I had read a few books at the library, but I just couldn't really wrap my head around a few concepts. So Jim suggested that we call Art Clokey up and ask him. I said, "yeah, right-- let's do that!" in the most sarcastic tone I could muster up.

One day, Jim called me up, and told me to hold on. He clicked off, then clicked back on. I heard a dial tone. He said "I found Art Clokey's number-- we're reporters from the school paper doing an interview with him." Then, he answered the phone. From there, we interviewed the man for over an hour, asking him questions about technique, camera work, cheap visual effects...EVERYTHING. And he was MORE THAN GENEROUS with the information (did you know that the characters' eyes were made of ping-pong balls with hole-punched black dots from photographs-- and vasoline on the whites to hold the black dots in place and allow them to be moved).

Mr. Clokey died in his sleep on Friday, in Los Osos, CA.

He was one of my greatest inspirations in filmmaking and animation. And I will never forget when he told Jim and I, after we told him that we were working on our own animated short: "Don't be discouraged. It's a lot of trial and error, but once you get the hang of it, you'll do fine. You boys certainly have the drive and the passion-- you've asked me about things that most adults won't ask me. So good luck to you."

Thank you Mr. Clokey, so very, very much.


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