Before video games, CGI and green screen ramped up animation expectations for modern youth, there was clay animation king Gumby, which is the Google doodle du jour, celebrating what would have been the 90th birthday of his creator, Art Clokey.
Greeting visitors to the Google home page today (or for some abroad, last night) is that fabulously flexible green thingy, asking —practically begging — you to click on the balls of clay around him and after that big "G" block above the search box. And when you do, Gumby's cohorts come to life: Blockheads, Prickle, Goo, Gumby, and pony pal Pokey.
While we appreciate all the work it takes to create a piece of clay animation, do you know how hard it is to take a screen capture of it in motion, especially when they bounce back so fast into balls of clay?
Thanks, PC Magazine, for making a slideshow out of it.
And thanks, YouTube, for providing videos of it in play, accompanied by the theme song to a show that spanned 34 years:
Clokey, a Detroit native, died in January 2010 at the age of 88. But as is the trend with doodles, his life and work live on in these interpretative tributes.
An obituary of Clokey gives a little background for those who might not be familiar with the evolution of his famous high pitched voice creation.
Gumby grew out of a student project Clokey produced at the University of Southern California in the early 1950s called "Gumbasia."
That led to his making shorts featuring Gumby and his horse friend Pokey for the "Howdy Doody Show" and several series through the years.
He said he based Gumby's swooping head on the cowlick hairdo of his father, who died in a car accident when Clokey was a boy. And Clokey's wife suggested he give Gumby the body of a gingerbread man.
Here's a video msnbc.com ran when Clokey died:
Over the years, Clokey's star, this legend, has made many cameos in popular culture. One of his most memorable iterations: Eddie Murphy on "Saturday Night Live." While not the most wholesome representation of the big and bendy fellow, it's certainly one of the funniest.
Gumby is not a garbage mouth, ok?
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Google keeps on upping the ante when it comes to its doodles. Some doozies we've covered in the past year include: the dancing Martha Graham-inspired piece, the animated interpretation of John Lennon's "Imagine," and the playable/recordable Les Paul guitar.
- 'Don't stop' Google doodles now, or ever, with Freddie Mercury
- Not just for fun, Google Doodles drive traffic, too
- Google doodle: Alexander Calder's moving mobile