David Tumpkin fondly remembers his childhood performances, when he would play music by banging on pots and pans and entertain relatives with puppet shows from behind the family couch.
From those early at-home productions, to high school marching band and choir, music has been a constant in Tumpkin’s life. Over the past year, the University of Detroit Mercy alumnus has used this passion to spread the message of God to children.
Tumpkin is the creator, writer and producer of ofGod, an award-winning animated series that follows a band of four cartoon animals who introduce kids to Christianity through music.
A longtime project of Tumpkin’s, the series debuted in May 2020 with a music video for the song, “Miracles.” A second song, “There’s Nothing Like Being Saved,” was published in November 2020. Both videos have earned recognition from regional and national film festivals.
“ofGod is special to me because I wanted something positive on TV,” Tumpkin said. “When I looked around, there’s a lot of negativity on TV. The cartoons today, a lot of them are dark and that’s what caught my attention at first. I want kids to have something positive. I wanted a positive show on there for the children to watch and they can learn about Jesus and the Bible, and listen to some inspirational-type music.”
The band consists of lead singer and keyboardist Miles (a husky dog), drummer Tammy (a fox) and Joi (a bear) and Shawn (a cheetah), who play guitar.
For Tumpkin, ofGod is something he can share with his son, David Tumpkin II. The elder Tumpkin provides vocals while his son, 23, plays the keyboard.
The father-son collaboration has been a fulfilling experience.
“No words can express the feeling,” Tumpkin said. “We had him in church ever since he was a little baby. He’s been playing the keyboard all his life, and to see him dedicate it to the Lord is what touches me the most.”
At first, ofGod was two separate projects, with origins dating back to the 1990s. Tumpkin had been working on secular music and envisioned creating a cartoon that involved ofGod’s musicians as high school students.
“I didn’t know exactly what the Lord had planned for me at the time, but as time went on, I got the understanding to combine it together, make it a cartoon band with the music, and change the focus of the music to inspirational music,” Tumpkin said.
Tumpkin was inspired to attend University of Detroit Mercy by his mother, Dorothy (Shaw) Davis ’72, a Mercy College of Detroit alumna. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and still raves about his experience at the University.
“I love Detroit Mercy. That college was outstanding,” Tumpkin said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, but I’ll never forget how the instructors were very supportive, how the staff was always friendly and kind. There’s no school that I would rather have gone to.”
ARG! Cartoon Animation, an animation company based in Stillwell, Okla., helped Tumpkin transform ofGod from an idea into a full-fledged video production. The series has aired on YouTube and other social media platforms, as well as the metro Detroit-based Rhema Television Network.
Episodes for the series are expected to launch later this year. Each episode will last around 10-11 minutes and open with a Bible study, followed by music videos. ARG! is developing Papa Jenkins, an elderly male character voiced by Tumpkin, to lead the Bible studies.
Tumpkin plans on continuing ofGod for “as long as I’m here on this Earth,” he said. Though the numerous film awards garnered over the past year are gratifying, seeing his lifelong project come to life hasn’t been lost on Tumpkin.
“The reception to the videos has been outstanding,” he said. “It’s really been touching my heart.”
To learn more about ofGod, visit https://www.artiestick.com/pages/ofGod_Miracles.html