What’s green and classic and turning 60 this year? If you answered Kermit the Frog or Gumby, you’d be right. Created in 1955, both characters are celebrating a milestone in 2015, so it seems fitting that the companies behind their creation are teaming up. With plans to deliver a new full stop-motion series starring Art Clokey’s Gumby by fall 2016, The Jim Henson Company and Gumby IP owner Premavision are deep into the development process.
There have been several iterations of Gumby on the small screen, from the first series produced in the 1950s, to three made in the ’60s and one that made it to air in the 1980s. More recently, kids VOD network Kabillion acquired the US rights to the Gumby library of more than 208 episodes and Canada’s Teletoon Retro is currently airing the series from the ’50s and ’60s. The flexible green guy also has an active licensing and merchandising program, which is particularly popular in Japan and Australia at the moment. Joe Clokey, Premavision president and son of Art Clokey, estimates that “every 10 to 15 years there’s a new wave of interest in Gumby” and we’re heading into one now.
As for the new series (title TBD), Henson EVP of children’s television Halle Stanford says comedy, focused on serving kids age five to nine, will be the driver. She adds that you can expect to see stories about friendship, courage and technology tinged with the absurdist humor for which Gumby is renowned. “The DNA of Gumby lives in Adventure Time and SpongeBob,” contends Stanford. It will also reflect core attributes that have made the property a success, adds Clokey—adventure, kinesthetic (i.e. bendy) action, everyday heroism, imagination, surrealism and an artistic aesthetic. Faithful sidekicks Pokey and the Blockheads will be back for the ride, too.
Planning a 52 x 11-minute format, Stanford says one thing’s for certain, the production will be sticking with the classic Plasticine-like stop-motion animation of the original Gumby. “The look will stand out,” she says, noting that the character and background designs will be tweaked to update the property. Currently, Henson and Premavision are looking for co-production partners to get the series off the ground. The hope is that Premavision will use its Gumby-ready studio, which has produced a Gumby direct-to-DVD special and several commercials featuring the character, to animate the series.
Photo: © 2015 Prema Toy Co., Inc.
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Kidscreen