This article has been updated since its original posting on December 11, 2017.
What is lost media?
One of my more niche hobbies is researching lost media. “Lost media” encompasses old movies, television shows, music, and books that have vanished from the public. The reasons for vanishing are dependent on the media that’s gone missing. Sometimes it’s a lack of preservation, other times it’s a result of being blacklisted or banned. Perhaps the most painful reason for disappearance is simply fading into obscurity.
December 11, 2017 was a monumental day in the lost media community. One of the "holy grails" of media was discovered by contributors of the Lost Media Wiki forums. The Lost Media Wiki is arguably the biggest (and in my opinion, the best) hub for everything lost and found.
The search for the Pinwheel/Nickelodeon “Clock Man” short
There's a chance you've seen this 2012-image floating around the internet. The viral Microsoft Paint drawing depicts a figure, the "Clock Man" emerging from the wall clock of a sleeping child's bedroom.
Originating on The Flood, a Halo general discussion forum, the author of this image, Commander Santa, captioned his comic with "[...]please help me find this cartoon that has scared me for 28 years". He accompanied the image with the following description:
“This short animation was terrifying as a child. The scene is still burned into my mind (28 years later). It’s of a young boy sleeping in his bed. Above his bed is a ticking clock. All the lights in the room are off and it is very dark. Suddenly the clock begins to slow down it’s ticking and eventually it stops…on midnight. When the clock stops a Greenish/Bluish man climbs out of the clock. The boy wakes up just in time to see this man dressed in black grab him out of bed and kidnap him by carrying him through a window. The “Clock Man” takes the boy on some kind of terrifying adventure and brings him back to his bed before sunrise."
Claiming to have watched the animation nearly three decades prior on then-Nickelodeon, Pinwheel, Commander Santa called for the power of the Internet to help him uncover the segment that haunted his childhood. The internet had a mystery on its hands, but not everyone bought the legitimacy of the author's claims. With no sound proof that such an animation ever existed, many were quick to allude Clock Man to a creepypasta of some sort, despite Commander Santa's positive reputation on The Flood.
The treasure hunters had their work cut out for them, as a majority of all Pinwheel programming wasn't preserved, resulting in little to no archives to search through. Further, the network would import its content from all over the world, meaning that Clock Man didn't have a definitive point of origin to make tracking it down easier. But given enough time and power in numbers, it was bound to be discovered.
Clock Man’s identity as O Parádivé Sally
Five years and thousands of hours of collaborative research later: the Lost Media Wiki forum user, nitratenerd, posted a link to a YouTube video: O Parádivé Sally. The elusive Clock Man has been found! You can watch the video below. The 1976 Czech movie was directed by Dagmar Doubková and filmed by Jasoň Šilhan.
While Commander Santa's memory was faulty in areas (such as the red shoes actually being yellow gloves), this is certainly the animation that's been hidden from the general public for over 30 years. The cherry on top of this newfound cake is that a derivative of the original studio that created the animation uploaded the video to YouTube themselves on September 22, 2017, with no knowledge of the massive demand for it. It sat unnoticed on the video streaming service for over two and a half months.
Another user on the forum, masmasterge77, compiled a timeline of major events in this search, starting from 1976's creation of the animation. If you're curious about the journey, false leads, and progress towards the video's discovery, I highly implore you to take a look at it.
To someone outside of the lost media community, this might not seem like a big deal. After all, it's just a seven minute children's video. And to that, I say, lost media hype is equally – if not more – about the journey to discovery than the actual content itself. Further, view this from the perspective of the creators: preservation and praise of their work.
If I've piqued your interests at all with lost media, I encourage you to check out the Lost Media Wiki, its forums, or even show your support on their Patreon. Fair warning, lost media can be quite the rabbit hole to go down! There's bound to be something you'll find captivating.
Update: December 18, 2018
YouTube personality blameitonjorge recalls the Clock Man journey in a 23-minute long video entitled “The Search For Clockman: Nickelodeon’s Mysterious Lost Short”. It goes into much more detail than what I presented here. I recommend watching it if you stumbled upon this article and haven’t seen it yet. It’s an excellent piece of media that will hopefully stay preserved.