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Glendora, CA – Several film industry stop-motion animation artists will be joining the fun of the premier Gumby Fest to be held June 14 in Glendora, California.
Gumby, the world’s original clayboy and pop-culture legend who starred in more than 230 TV episodes and a movie, “grew up” in Glendora, where the iconic TV series was produced from 1960 to the late 1970s.
The celebration of all-things Gumby as well as stop-motion animation will take place on the grounds of Glendora City Hall and Public Library at the corner of Glendora Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
Among the family fun at Gumby Fest 2014:
- “Gumby Through the Years” presented by Joe Clokey, son of creator Art Clokey,
- Gumby Museum with memorabilia provided by the Clokey family and Gumby producer Premavision, Inc.,
- Film screenings of Gumby cartoons, as well as stop-motion animation videos submitted to festival organizers,
- A Kids’ Stop-Motion Animation Studio conducted by animation artists from Stoopid Buddies Stoodios, home to the longest running stop-motion show on television, Robot Chicken. Children will learn how to produce a stop-motion video they can take home after the festival,
- Panel discussions about the past, present and future of stop-motion animation with artists from LAIKA Studios, producers of ParaNorman and next September’s BoxTrolls, along with stop-motion animators who worked with Art Clokey to produce Gumby shows.
Art and Ruth Clokey founded Clokey Films (later renamed Clokey Productions) when they launched “Gumby” in 1955. The studio moved from Hollywood to a larger facility in Glendora, California in 1960 when they began production on 85 “Gumby” episodes and 65 “Davey and Goliath” episodes.
Clokey’s son Joe and his wife Joan employ top animators, puppet makers and set designers in the industry (many of whom were mentored by Art himself) as they continue all things Gumby with Premavision, Inc., and Prema Toy, Inc.
Gumby Fest is produced by the Glendora Chamber of Commerce, Glendora Community Services, Glendora Library, Glendora Rotary and Glendora Kiwanis.
Sponsors include A1 Rentals, The Glendora Library Friends Foundation, Southland Properties, NJ Croce, Undercovers, Crazy Dog Ladies, Alta Pacific Bank, and TAS Advertising Specialists.
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Here Comes the Parade
Gumby and the Clokey family were honored as Grand Marshals of the Glendora Christmas parade on December 14, 2013. Gumby appeared in person to hug and high-five fans. A 20′ tall inflatable Gumby made his way down the streets, bowing to the crowd. Gumby did as Gumby always does… he brought a smile to every face. Generations of fans lined the streets to cheer for this beloved icon.
The city of Glendora considers Gumby their son, because Gumby’s studio, Clokey Productions, was located in Glendora in the 1960s and 70s. Gumby grew up in Glendora! Art and Ruth Clokey produced 85 Gumby episodes in a Glendora warehouse, which were syndicated worldwide. Clokey Productions also created 65 Davey and Goliath episodes and six specials through the mid-70s. Gumby’s studio then moved to Sausalito, California, where another 100 episodes were made in the 80s.
Introducing Gumby Fest
The city of Glendora also chose Gumby and the Clokeys for this year’s parade as a kick-off for the first annual Gumby Fest. Gumby Fest, scheduled for Saturday, June 14, 2014, is Glendora’s fun-filled celebration of all things Gumby and stop motion animation.
Joe Clokey (Gumby’s brother) will present, “Gumby Through the Years” a wonderful retrospective of Gumby’s journey. Animators and crew who worked on Gumby productions and other well known animated films will take part in discussion panels. Fans will have an opportunity to learn about the 60-year history of the character and see clay puppets and sets at the temporary Gumby Museum. There will be screenings, demonstrations, hands-on art activities, music, photo opportunities with Gumby, and a stop motion animation film competition. It will be fun for the entire family. You won’t want to miss it!
See you there on June 14th. Gumby Fest will take place downtown Glendora at the library 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Learn more about Gumby Fest at www.gumbyfest.net.
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Lucky Australian Gumby fans are the first to get the full library of re-mastered Gumby episodes from 1956 through the ‘80s in a new collector’s edition DVD set. 209 episodes, over 21 hours of Gumby adventures, are included in this tin, which is being sold exclusively in Australia.
The Clokey family has gone back to the original archived film rolls that Art Clokey shot to re-master them. The original film was well preserved. The color and clarity are amazing! This is the very first time that these re-mastered episodes, with their original soundtracks, are available on DVD anywhere in the world. The re-mastered footage renders Gumby bigger and brighter than you’ve ever seen him.
While this set is only available in Australia, we’re looking forward to a U.S. release. Stay tuned!Read More »
The Clokeys (stewards of the Gumby brand and Clokey Productions/ Premavision Studios), were the Saturday night headliners at the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival in October, 2013. The Clokeys, along with director Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas), were the festival jurors.
What an inspiring event! It was a stop motion marathon—over 300 short films were submitted to the competition. Producers, directors, animators, puppet makers, writers, set designers and crew from around the world attended to premier their new films.
The Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival, which was launched five years ago, is the first festival in the world dedicated solely to stop motion animation. Founder Erik Goulet, an animation professor at Montreal’s Concordia University, frustrated with the lack of attention that stop motion films received at regular film festivals, decided to start his own. He has been generating international attention for this unique art form. Other stop motion animation festivals are now springing up around the world: Poland, Brazil and Mexico.
Festival goers learned more about stop motion pioneer Art Clokey and the impact Gumby had on the development of animation during the “Gumby through the Years” presentation. The montage included a sampling of Gumby and Davey and Goliath episodes and excerpts, Art Clokey’s art films and his early commercial work. While a few film and commercial makers were experimenting with stop motion animation in the 1950’s, Gumby was the first stop motion character to have his own TV series. Many of today’s acclaimed animators attribute their break in industry to Art Clokey, who was known for hiring and training young art school graduates. Gumby has inspired thousands in the animation business and continues to stir imagination and creativity.
Henry Selick’s presentation included a screening of Nightmare Before Christmas (celebrating the film’s 20th anniversary) and scenes from his features: Coraline, James and Giant Peach and Monkey Bone. Animation Director Anthony Scott, who learned to animate under Art Clokey and later worked on many of Henry Selick’s films, joined in the presentation to share his anecdotes and perspective on how stop motion has evolved in the last 20 years.
You can read more about the Montreal Film Festival and the winners at http://www.stopmotionmontreal.com/index.php/en/
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The Gumby Central Gang was thrilled to be part of the special exhibition: Between Frames: The Magic Behind Stop Motion Animation—which was on view at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California, from September 2012 through April 2013.
The exhibition explores the evolution of stop motion animation in the United States—especially in special effects, television, and film—while examining some of the key milestones in the field. Innovators include Willis O’ Brien (King Kong), Tim Burton (Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas), Art Clokey (Gumby), Ray Harryhausen (It Came From Beneath the Sea), Henry Selick (Coraline and James and the Giant Peach), Phil Tippett (Star Wars and Jurassic Park), and more. This 100-year-old art form launched Walt Disney’s career in animation.
The exhibition includes behind-the-scenes photographs, replicas of the original armatures, a Digital Input Device (DID), puppets and other interesting tools of the trade. Gumby is represented with storyboards, an original Gumby puppet mold, a description of how a clay character is made, a morphing Gumby, and photos of Art Clokey at work.
Visitors are invited to manipulate and touch armatures at a special interactive station. A video spotlights great moments in stop motion animation, and episodes and clips from various stop motion masterpieces are shown.
We especially enjoyed the kick-off party, “Animate Your Night,” in September, during which visitors made clay puppets with wire and foil armatures and created their own digital stop motion animation. There was so much wonder and creativity in the air! The entry hall featured a sculpted cake adorned with sweet likenesses of the characters in the exhibit, and the caterer even got into the spirit by dressing in a Gumby costume to deliver tasty treats. Too much fun!
The next time you are in San Francisco, stop by the Walt Disney Family Museum for an introduction into the world of animation and Walt Disney’s life. The well-designed museum will surely delight animation fans of any age. Check out their calendar of events for their list of fascinating talks and activities.
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Now that spring is here, we are seeing more bikes on the road. Many communities throughout the world promote biking with local or national cycling days, weeks or even a full month. May is National Bike month in the U.S., and National Bike to Work Day is May 17, 2013. Gumby’s getting into the action.
Cycling is a great way to be green inside and out. You reduce harmful emissions from auto exhaust, conserve fossil fuels, slow the wear and tear on the car, reduce air and noise pollution, and save money! You’ll find it easier to get a good parking space and you may be able to pass by gridlocked cars in congested areas.
Cycling provides important health benefits. It can be a low-impact way for you to keep fit and get a good workout. In addition to burning calories and helping to shed pounds, you reap the rewards of higher metabolism after a rigorous ride. Studies have shown that cycling can increase your longevity. It’s keeps your heart healthy, reduces your risk of heart disease and boosts the immune system. While it improves muscle strength and tone, you’ll also find that your coordination improves. Cycling is a great mood booster, too. Cruising through a beautiful landscape or an action-pack urban environment awakens the senses. The combination of exercise, fresh air and inspiring scenery will clear your mind and make you smile.
Haven’t been on a bike in a while? Just take one small step at a time: bike to the store, to work or to school once a week. So, dust off your bike, pump up the tires and make a date with your kids or a good friend for a pleasure ride. Rediscover the fun of cycling. Oh, and Gumby says, “Don’t forget your helmet and sunscreen.”Read More »
It’s a new year, and the days are marching on. Gumby and Pokey are hamming it up to bring you some creative and heart-felt holiday greetings and visuals of their escapades. If you haven’t had a chance to visit “Gumby Central,” Gumby’s official Facebook page, then be sure to check it out now. Like the page, enjoy the postings and share them with your friends. Get the latest tweets by following “Gumby Central” on Twitter. Here are a few snippets of what you’ve been missing…
Happy Valentine’s Day! How are you showing your friends and loved ones how much they mean to you? Gumby’s into handmade things, so he’s been hard at work, cutting and pasting. Meanwhile, Pokey has other ideas… he’s found that box of chocolates that were hidden in the closet. Hey, Pokey, please save some for the rest of us!
Rewind to January: Gumby and Pokey rang in 2013 with their friends, toasting with carrot juice, Gumby’s favorite beverage. Those blustery winter days were cold, but fun. Gumby, Pokey and the Blockheads braved the weather for a sledding adventure.
Gumby and Pokey just couldn’t sit still for the Superbowl. They suited up and helped out their favorite teams. Then, it was off to join in a couple of festive parades for Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year.
Stayed tuned for more of Gumby and Pokey’s excursions, celebrations and words of wisdom. Like Gumby Central on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to be the first to see what our favorite precocious clay friends have been doing. See you there!
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As we’re settling into the new school year routine, opening our books and our minds, we look at what we have learned and still can learn from Gumby.
Gumby creator Art Clokey was a huge proponent of learning. Early in his career, he spent a few years as an art teacher in Santa Barbara, California. Art loved to read and wanted his Gumby episodes to encourage children to seek out information. He wished to spark their young imaginations and spur them to read into new adventures… just as Gumby and Pokey can walk into any book and find themselves in an historic or futuristic time and place.
Gumby’s fun adventures give us a glimpse into history or introduce us to other cultures and people. Gumby has helped George Washington, he whirled with the Dervishes, tamed dinosaurs and chanted with Kachinas. What a creative introduction to significant people, places and events of the past!
This image from the 1980’s Gumby episode, “Blocks in the Head,” reminds us of the significance of the name of the two mischievous trouble makers in Gumby’s world… the Blockheads. Art shaped their heads into blocks to represent square thinking! Gumby models being flexible, creative, using imagination and diving into books as the alternative to being a Blockhead.
Even today, Gumby continues to be an inspiration in our schools…
Last spring the Gumby Central gang had the privilege of attending an amazing musical performance inspired by Art Clokey’s works. Secondary school band director Ralph Martin, at the Vacaville Christian Schools in California, obtained permission from the Clokey family to use the musical scores from “Gumby on the Moon” and “Gumbasia” in his lessons and for a non-profit concert.
The sixth through twelfth grade students in the school’s jazz ensemble, Radio Jazz, practiced for months. They transposed and performed the actual music from “Gumbasia” at their concert in March 2012. View the “Gumbasia” performance.
After listening to the original music to “Gumby on the Moon” and watching the episode on video over and over, the students composed their own original music with several movements to correspond with the passages in the video. The episode was shown on the large screen behind the band as they soulfully blended the hip and mysterious melodies they had written to evoke Gumby’s extraterrestrial experience. See the “Gumby on the Moon” performance.
What talent and creativity! The professional performance quality earned the band gigs as an opening act at the world-famous Yoshi’s jazz club in San Francisco. Congratulations! We applaud Ralph Martin for his dedication and unique approach to teaching. We know the talented students in Radio Jazz will go far.
Stretch for Excellence
In Florida a number of school districts are participating in a program called Stretch for Excellence, a campaign to motivate students and staff to stretch beyond the normal, expected outcomes and to never give up. It is designed to foster that “can do” life attitude that helps a person excel in our information age.
The program started first with teachers and support staff in a public school in Florida. They received much needed recognition through the 3” and 6” bendable Gumby, a token or reflection how “flexible” they had been.
Each month honorees were awarded the coveted “Gumby Award.” The program was so successful that it expanded to include students and has been used each year since its initiation in 2009. Gumby green can be found in almost every office and in many classrooms. More and more enthusiastic students challenge themselves as the concept continues to spread to new districts.
Keep on stretching for excellence! As Gumby has shown, learning can be fun.Read More »
Gumby Central met with puppet maker Nicole LaPointe-McKay to get the inside scoop on making puppets and what it is like to have a career in puppetry and stop motion animation. Part Two: The Puppet Maker Career follows. Part One: Making Gumby appeared in our December 2011 blog post.
GC: Thank you for taking time to continue our conversation on puppet making and animation as careers. Let’s start with the basics. What kind of education is needed to be a puppet maker?
NLM: Going to college helps you to focus and push forward in the right direction. There are plenty of theater arts programs worldwide. Going to college helped me meet and team up with others, who helped me break into the industry. If you are highly disciplined and self-motivated, you may be able to learn on the job. Building your portfolio is critical as is doing volunteer projects that help get your name out.
GC: In our last interview, you mentioned some of the events in your life that inspired you to become a puppet maker. Where did you study for this career?
NLM: I started out as a theater major with a concentration in scenery and stagecraft at Radford University in Virginia. I found that I really enjoyed a sculpture class I took one semester too. For French class, I chose to write a paper on the French Punch and Judy puppets (Le Guinol). At the same time I wrote a report on Bunraku, (Japanese puppet theater) for a theater history class. While researching, I learned about the University of Connecticut’s Puppet Arts program. All of my research and writings on puppetry, in addition to my new found love of sculpture, pushed me in that direction. I auditioned and was accepted into the UCONN Puppet Arts Masters Program.
While working on my master’s degree at UCONN, I was influenced by my study of old style Italian performance Commedia dell’arte. There is a lot of slapstick comedy and clowning performance in this art and it is actually where the “slapstick” came from. By learning to use my own body in expression, I could better understand and transfer the motions to the puppets. I also studied Chinese rod puppetry, which is a very high energy and expressive style of Chinese puppetry. There was a lot to gain in going to school for puppet arts. I got to know the history of puppetry around the world, gained experience in woodcarving, mould making and met some great people along the way. All of our classes required performances, so we not only made puppets, but we performed them. This hands-on experience was great, and I would recommend it.
GC: How did you gain your first employment in puppet making?
NLM: During and out of college, I joined forces with my colleagues and fellow students to do work at a few different studios, making puppets and scenery on the east and west coasts. Some of the jobs started as volunteer projects or unpaid internships and ultimately turned into paying jobs. Puppet making led to doing stop motion animation. Many jobs are obtained by word of mouth, so it’s good to maintain a strong network of colleagues.
GC: How did you go from puppet making to stop motion animation?
NLM: Once the puppets are made, it’s only natural to take the next step into animating them. Puppetry is “bringing an inanimate object to life.” Animation is much the same thing—you bring a drawing, painting, or puppet to life, giving them breath, a personality and movement to tell a story.
I believe that it’s important to continually hone and expand my skill set. For instance, I experimented in the garage with my cousin and a friend a lot while at school to learn more about mould making and casting. We used a variety of materials to make puppets, life castings, and gigantic Halloween monster costumes.
GC: Do you have any heroes or mentors who inspired you?
NLM: Besides Arthur Clokey? Art was a man of few words, but when he spoke, we all listened and not just because he did the voice of Pokey and many of the narrator voice overs. He had a great sense of humor and loved word play. You can see this in many of the Gumby episodes. Jim Henson and Frank Oz were two more heroes of mine of course! All their characters have been part of my life since birth: Sesame Street, the Muppets, the Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock and many others. There is so much life and personality in all the characters they developed and inspired. The humor appealed to me as a child and still holds my attention as an adult. Gumby is the same, especially the 1950s and 60s episodes; I loved them as a kid and still like to watch them now. There is magic in creating a character and stories that work on these various levels and age groups.
GC: What is the life of stop motion animator or puppet maker like?
NLM: You have to be flexible! Few studios hire for life. When one production is done, you may have to take another project in a different studio and city. Much of the work in this industry is freelance. It’s like a traveling circus. That makes it interesting—you never know what you will be doing next or where.
GC: What advice would you give to those who are interested in a career in stop motion animation or puppetry?
NLM: One thing that has helped me to gain employment is to be open-minded and continue to expand my skills. Having a broad skill set has opened many doors. An animator who can fix his/her own puppets, do lighting and paint sets is more marketable. Building a resume and portfolio are very important. You have to be willing to start at the bottom—cleaning up puppets, working as an intern for little or no pay, to get your foot in the door.
GC: Thank you again, Nicole!
You can see some of Nicole’s work and read more on her blog: http://www.nicolelapointe-mckay.blogspot.com/
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We caught up with Gumby puppet maker Nicole LaPointe-McKay to get the inside scoop on making puppets as a profession. Part One of our interview follows, and Part Two will appear in a future blog post, so stayed tuned; you’ll want to read the full story.
GC: Welcome Nicole. Thank you for taking time to join us at Gumby World today to tell us more about yourself and your experiences as a puppet maker.
NLM: I’m happy to be here. I appreciate the opportunity.
GC: How did you become interested in being a puppet maker?
NLM: I’ve been interested in puppets since I was a kid. I was obsessed with the Muppet Show and stop animation programs. I watched Gumby on TV with my little brother. My mother would craft puppets for me to use in plays that I made up. I put on shows with hand puppets, my favorite monkey puppet, and a few marionettes. I always volunteered to get up in front of people to perform and lead others, such as the Girl Scouts, in plays. I was a thespian in high school, and it seemed natural that I would go on to study theater in college.
GC: How did you get involved with Gumby?
NLM: After college and having gained a few years of experience in puppet making, set design and animation, I applied to a posting on AWN.com (Animation World Network), not knowing what the studio was. I didn’t get that particular job, since it had already been filled, but I kept in touch with the studio—Clokey Productions. When studio producer Joe Clokey had an opening for a set designer, he called me. I worked on the Gumby Namco game commercial and have been with Gumby ever since. You can see some production photos here: (http://www.gumbyworld.com/gumbys-studio/)
GC: What kinds of puppets do you make?
NLM: I’m trained to work with just about any material and style of puppet. In my studies I was exposed to puppets from around the world and different time periods. Some of my favorites were the Japanese bunraku, the French Guinol and the Italian Commedia dell’Arte. Currently I fashion a lot of clay puppets for stop motion. I do have some personal projects in the works that involve hand-rod, big-mouth puppets (like the Muppets-type puppets.) I’m doing some new clay animation, too.
GC: How do you make a Gumby puppet?
NLM: Gumby is made of mostly Van Aken clay—a secret recipe! I whip up a batch following his unique recipe, mix, and boil it down in a double boiler to a unified color and the right consistency. I prep the silicone/stone mold with a floating armature. This is Gumby’s skeleton. I then pour the mixture into the mold and let it cool. Sometimes I chill it in the fridge to speed the process. Next, I pop him out of the mold and clean him up by trimming the seams and patching the bubble marks. Gumby gets an oil massage to make him smooth. I then drop a faceplate on him to mark where the features will go. Finally, I add the delicate clay features of his face.
GC: How many Gumby puppets does it take to make a Gumby TV episode?
NLM: More than you would think. The number of puppets needed really depends upon the storyline and type of morphing and movement that the puppet does. When Gumby morphs and changes shape, he needs to be replaced after every few seconds of animation, because the clay loses its shape. One minute of animation can require 20 Gumbys, sometimes more. The lights can also melt the clay, requiring a change of puppets. Because we go through so many puppets, it’s critical that they are all identical and made to the same specifications.
GC: You were involved in the Gumby Google doodle that appeared on October 12, 2011 to honor Art Clokey’s 90th birthday. Tell us about that.
NLM: It was a collaborative effort, involving a small subset of the Clokey Productions’ crew. We worked long distance—by phone, Skype and email. With the short deadline, I made puppets non-stop for a week before the animator could do his part. We used 3-6 puppets of each character for about 4-6 seconds of animation per character. The individual segments of animation were then sent to Google, where their programming team integrated them into their home page. It was exciting to see the characters come to life and move with the click of a mouse. The interaction was really fun! I think this was the first clay animation doodle that Google has used. The doodle was online around the world, so I hope that it inspired a renewed interest in clay animation. You can view it live and interact with it here: http://www.gumbygoogle.co.cc/
GC: What do you do for fun?
NLM: I’m always brainstorming and designing puppet shows and animations based on the interests of little kids that I know. I watch a lot of cartoons with my two-year-old daughter. I love to create (working in clay, painting…) and most enjoy brainstorming creative ideas with my artsy friends.
GC: What are your favorite recent animated productions?
NLM: I’m into watching Timmy Time, a stop motion animation with clay, foam, and rubber puppets done by the Aardman studio in England. I like this style of animation, because there is little speaking; it’s simple and tells the story through actions. Rather than a lot of words, they use onomatopoeia. Timmy Time is a preschool of animals, which children of all ages can enjoy watching. It’s cute, funny, has bright colors and teaches a lesson.
GC: What inspires you about the future?
NLM: Giving back is essential. I grew up in an area that did not provide many opportunities for kids to learn the arts. I still remember a week in my fifth grade class when our teacher had us make puppets and do a book report using them. That changed my life I think. You never know how you can have a positive influence on the next generation. To do my part, I teach stop motion animation classes and workshops at summer camps for kids.
Today, kids are animating with their phones and digital SLR’s. They have so many opportunities to create animations or other imaginative works. The tools are readily available. I love to help spark their imaginations.
GC: You can see some of Nicole’s work and read more on her blog:
Learn more about the career of puppet making in the second segment of our interview with Nicole. Look for it in a future blog post.
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