Saturday, January 9, 2010

Art Clokey, 1921-2010. R.I.P.

Art Clokey, the man who pioneered stop motion clay animation, died yesterday at the age of 88.

Clokey is best remembered for creating the TV show Gumby. But I remember his other creation - Davey & Goliath.

When I was a child Davey & Goliath would air on Sunday morning before all other the religious programming. There was innate gentleness about Davey & Goliath. OK, maybe he wasn't always gentle but he learned his lessons. Of course, there was Goliath's voice. I loved imitating it and still do. Oh Daaavey.

Granted the show was vulnerable to parody. The Simpsons have parodied the show on a number of occasions. Then there was the Adult Swim show Moral Orel. But sometimes parody is a sign of admiration and affection. After all, the first Davey & Goliath episodes aired in 1960. Fifty years ago.

It tells me that Franklin Clark Fry was one smart fellow. Fry was the President of the United Lutheran Church in America. The Lutherans wanted to create a television show for children with a religious message. Who better to approach than the man who made Gumby?

I'm sure that a lot of liberals would cringe at the overt praise for G-d in Davey & Goliath. Yet Fry was a fairly liberal theologian. I think more conservatively inclined religious leaders would be smart to follow Fry's example. Creating their own childrens' programming would take them a lot farther than complaining about Sponge Bob Square Pants. If they do take that route they would wise to approach someone inspired both by the works of the Lord and by the works of Art Clokey.

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