Google’s homepage is paying homage to the godfather of clay stop motion animation Art Clokey with an interactive Gumby Doodle. The logo is in honor of what would have been Clokey’s 90th birthday today.
Whatever your generation, you may remember Gumby; Clokey brought him to life in a 1955 film called “Gumbasia”, followed by “The Gumby Show”, which spanned over 35 years on television.
The Gumby Google Doodle features a wooden block for the “G,” with clay balls following the Google color scheme sitting in a row, just waiting for you to click and bring them to life. Gumby, in place of the “L,” gives a wave when you land on the page, pointing to the clay balls. At the top of the screen, “Art Clokey’s 90th Birthday” links to the search results page for Clokey.
Hovering over each clay ball causes it to compress; moving away releases it to full shape… but when you click on them, they come to life.
The “O” morphs into J, while G appears on the top of the wooden block. If you don’t remember J & G, they’re the mischief-making blockheads from “The Gumby Show”. The yellow ball, the second “O” in Google, transforms into a clay cone with eyes before shape-shifting into Gumby’s buddy, Prickle. Next up, in the blue ball or the second Google “G,” lies the overprotective Goo, Prickle’s comrade, described by Clokey as a “very gooey, blue, flying mermaid.”
Clicking on Gumby causes him to bounce into a square, then a heart, and with a final bounce, he collapses into a green ball. Last but not least, Pokey the horse takes the “E” position, rearing on his hind legs, with then stretch to impossible heights before he is squished back into a little red ball.
The original ’50s Gumby shorts made a comeback in the ’80s before Lorimar-Telepictures syndicated the series and gave Gumby and his horse Pokey some new friends, including his sister, Minga, and Denali the mastadon.
Even if you weren’t a child of the ’80s and missed it in the ’50s, you may remember Eddie Murphy’s early ’80s “Saturday Night Live” “I’m Gumby Dammit” skit. Murphy converted the sweet, lovable Gumby into a cigar-munching, cursing diva once the cameras were off.
Everyone’s favorite clay humanoid had another good run in the ‘90s, when Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network picked up reruns of “The Gumby Show”. The Library of Congress even chose Gumby as their spokesperson from 1994 to 1995. Clokey’s feature Gumby film in 1995 didn’t fare well with audiences, though it sparked renewed interest in the character.
Then 2005 was a good year for the stretchy green clay dude, as Namco released “Gumby vs. the Astrobots” for the Game Boy Advance. That year, Clokey and Studio Z held Gumby a 50th birthday party in San Francisco, with Smashmouth headlining. The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta honored the clay animation pioneer and his most famous creation in 2006 and 2007 with an eight-month exhibition called “Gumby: Art Clokey – The First Fifty Years.”
Clokey lived to see the release of the first Gumby comic book in 2006 from Wildcard Ink/Gumby Comics; it took Best Publication for a Younger Audience at the 2007 Eisner Awards. That year, YouTube announced they would air full-length versions of Gumby episodes, digitally remastered and featuring the original soundtracks.
Clokey also brought his creativity to marketing, with an early 1950s stop motion commercial for Andersen’s Pea Soup and slapstick/stop motion commercials for Coca-Cola and Budweiser. Check out his Budweiser commercial:
Sadly, Art Clokey didn’t see Gumby Comic’s Mel Smith debut POKEY #1 at Comic-Con International a delighted crowd. Clokey died in January 2010 at the age of 88. Now, Google honors the man who opened doors for clay animation as a form of entertainment and is said to have inspired and helped many in the film industry.
GumbyWorld.com offers an in-depth history and biography of Clokey and his clay creation, Gumby.
Do you recall the Gumby crew, or better yet, the original cast that used to grace “The Howdy Doody Show”? Let us know what you remember of Gumby or share your favorite Google Doodle in the comments!