Clock Man (lost animated short; existence unconfirmed; 1970s-1980s)
|Original rendition of "the Clock Man" wizard by Commander Santa.|
During Nickelodeon's Pinwheel in the early-to-mid 1980s (or possibly as early as 1977, its debut) there was an alleged short stop-motion animation that had apparently first aired on this show and possibly continued airing as late as 1990.
"Clock Man" - as it would now be commonly referred/nicknamed - was brought to mass online attention in 2012 by bungie.net user "Commander Santa" on its Off-Topic forum aka "The Flood".
According to Commander Santa, the short involved a young boy laying in his bed, who gets snatched up by "the Clock Man", a discolored, unkempt entity that emerges from the wall clock above the child's bed at the stroke of midnight. The boy, after being taken on an eerie adventure, is subsequently returned to his room before sunrise.
An uncannily similar description of a scary Pinwheel short can be found within a 2002-2004 animationnation.com forum thread, (as recounted in a 2004 comment by user Michael W. Howe), involving a young girl making a deal with a wizard, after losing her red shoes; the deal being that the wizard would replace the shoes, so long as the child told her mother about the extraordinary event. Incidentally, the girl decides not to tell her mother, to which the wizard responds by emerging out of her wall clock, snatching her up and demanding an explanation. She eventually agrees to make it up to the wizard by sewing stars to be placed in the night sky, before being returned to her mother, to whom she then recounts the entire experience.
While the two descriptions provided differ in many ways, they may very well be referring to the same piece of animation, given that things of such an obscure nature are often misremembered, especially if witnessed during childhood.
Although several other people claim to have seen the short, its validity has yet to be actually proven, with many writing off the "Clock Man" as a mere creepypasta (largely on account of an over-the-top comment made by Commander Santa, in which he suggests that Pinwheel used to hypnotize children, giving them visual hallucinations).
There may yet be some truth to this short, however, especially given the huge gap between (what seems to be) the first and most recent online recounts of it, but until some form of solid proof emerges, we will never really know. It may be worth noting that a user of 4chan's /x/ board also apparently recalled the clip, citing the boy's name as Benjamin, though this too has never been confirmed.
Whether real or a hoax, no footage (either proven or alleged) from the short has ever emerged, the closest thing being a few still renditions as created by Commander Santa.
Pinwheel aired a number of shorts from a variety of countries, a (possibly incomplete) list of programming is available here. The shorts were dubbed into English, so it's likely "the Clock Man" came from a foreign country, and probably aired on multiple networks, perhaps in different languages and different countries.
The short in question bares a strong resemblance to Hans Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes. To summarize the story, a poor orphaned girl is adopted and cared for by a rich woman; she soon becomes spoiled. One day, her caretaker decides to buy her a pair of new red shoes, and soon the girl becomes obsessed with them. The girl wears the shoes to church, but is scolded by an old woman (perhaps a nun), and is told to only wear black shoes to church. Despite this, the girl decides to wear the shoes to church again, and this time, a red-bearded soldier talks to the shoes, saying "Oh, what beautiful shoes for dancing, never come off when you dance." After this, the girl's shoes begin to dance, and she can't stop the dancing and suffers misfortune. The girl later gets her feet amputated, but the shoes still dance anyway. The girl asks for forgiveness before she is finally exalted into heaven.
There are many strong themes that are shared in common with the accounts, namely the theme of not being spoiled, but also the theme of a bearded man, a mother, and red shoes. There are major differences; in Clock Man, the punishment is simply sewing stars, whereas in Red Shoes, the punishment is misery or even death. It's possible these were altered, as it was a kids short.
The Red Shoes has been parodied/homaged since the 1940s. It's possible the short originated in Denmark and was dubbed into other languages, including English, before being picked up by Nickelodeon.
There are some reports that "the Clock Man" in the short had an Irish accent and was supposed to be a leprechaun. While there are no exact matches that describe the short in Irish folklore, there are some running themes, such as a cobbler, or shoemaker. The short also seems to loosely follow the tale of a changeling. Changelings were believed to be fairy children who were put in place of a real child; the child was kidnapped by the fairies for a variety of reasons, such as acting as a servant, out of pure love, or even malice or extortion.
It's possible the short was animated in the Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom, and could possibly be a hybrid of Irish folklore and the story of the Red Shoes.
Please note that despite the similarities, this version of the story is far from being officially confirmed.
At the time, many shorts came from Canada. The currently known "Clock Man" plot appears to be very similar if not matching to the Quebec Folklore of "Bonhomme Sept-Heurs". According to the folklore, this person is a man who hides in a kid's room and steals them if they are not in bed past their bedtime and/or after 7:00. The man describing the short could have initially misheard "Benjamin" when the man actually said his name was "Bonhomme".. Pinwheel used "National Film Board of Canada" movies and "Clock Man" may have been one of them.
With this version, many things begin to make sense. Both 7 O' Clock Man and "the Clock Man" have a very similar appearance. Both of them had the beard and wore a trench-coat. Furthermore, folkloric description of what the 7 O' Clock Man does seem to be similar to the plot of the "Clock Man" short.
What is problematic is that the nothing in the archive on 7 O' Clock Man matched up with the Santa's description, of its style. Nevertheless, according to Dycaite, "Commander Santa says 7 O' Clock Man seems to fit the bill".
"I find this extremely interesting."
Considering that Nickelodeon was first marketed to the French-Canadian Northeast (Canada), I wonder if this is where it actually originated from.
That photo looks pretty close. Damn, you guys are apretty good.'''
Currently, the LMW community on the lookout for the book that would confirm that 7 O' Clock Man influenced the "Clock Man" short.
- 15 Nov 2016
On the Lost Media Wiki Discord, user "YoshiKiller2S" said that his cousin had seen it multiple times. User "Notelu" posted a summary of what he said on the forums:
"He recalls seeing "Clock Man" 2 or 3 times once in 1982 and a second time in 1983. He doesn't remember much about it. The things he does remember is the wizard coming out of the clock and saying "You did not tell your mother" and it having an Irish laugh (possibly made in Ireland?) He remembers "the Clock Man" having, big white eyes, green skin, big toothy smile, and a bowler hat, with a buckle on it, and the girl had brown hair, a white gown with white dots on it, and black eyes, the bed sheets were blue. And Blue or white slippers.
"The Clock Man" comes out of the clock with a big thump and wakes up the kid with an Irish laugh, and says "You did not tell your mother" the kid tries to apologize but fails, and she is taken away through the window, and they go through a field, and the girl has to help the "Clock Man" with chores.
He says the room is very similar to Commander Santa's picture, but there were photos on the wall, and curtains on the window.
He says that it had very poor claymation.
During the day the kid had a hair band on, and her hair was straight down. Also, there might have been a vase in the room with 2-3 flowers in it."
Was "Clock Man" really part of Pinwheel?
Although it is generally accepted by the LMW community that "Clock Man" was part of the Pinwheel production, this was not officially confirmed. Considering that so far all of the found Pinwheel content neither contains "Clock Man" nor references it in any way, some people suspect that "Clock Man" is indeed not a part of the Pinwheel production. Arguably people who look for "Clock Man" may have a hard time considering this version.
Please note that this is not to state that "Clock Man" was not part of the Pinwheel, but to point out to a possibility of Clock Man not being a part of Pinwheel, but rather being a part of a different show.
- Commander Santa's 2012 "Clock Man" forum post on bungie.net. Retrieved 15 Jan '14.
- The aforementioned 2002-2004 animationnation.com forum thread. Retrieved 15 Jan '14.
- Bonhomme Sept Heures @ French Wikipedia Retrieved 8 Nov '17.
- O Orangethorpe's comment made in April 2017 on YouTube Retrieved 8 Nov '17.
- One of Anonymous #19's comments under this article Retrieved 8 Nov '17.
- Book: The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Revolution Or Evolution?, page 120