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Goodbye Gumby

Art Clokey, creator of the world-famous claymation character Gumby, has passed away this last week after a long battle with infection. He was 88.

Mr. Clokey (born Arthur Farrington in Detroit, before he was given up for adoption at age 11) and his wife Ruth created an avant-garde claymation short film, Gumbasia, in the early 1950’s. Clokey said he took the term from “gumbo”, a common rural term for sticky mud that is heavy with clay. Soon after that film had a successful run on the film festival circuit, Art created the green character Gumby, with an asymmetrical head based on a photo of his own father’s sculpted hair. Soon Art was animated short Gumby films and packaging them together as TV shows. Along the way he created characters like Gumby’s “pony pal” Pokey, their friends Prickle (a cranky dinosaur/dragon) and Goo (an optimistic shape-shifting whatsit), and the villainous blockheads. Later on in the 1960’s, Clokey was hired by the Lutheran Church Council to create a TV series called Davy and Goliath, in which a young boy and his talking dog studied the Bible and learned about Christian values.

Art Clokey is survived, of course, by his creations — who have since become cultural icons in past few decades. Gumby himself has more than 100,000 fans on Facebook.