Bruce Bickford (animator)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Bruce Bickford (February 11, 1947 – April 28, 2019) was an American animator, who worked primarily in clay animation. From 1974 to 1980, he collaborated with Frank Zappa. Bickford's animation was featured extensively in the Frank Zappa videos Baby Snakes and The Dub Room Special. Zappa also released a video titled The Amazing Mr. Bickford, which was entirely composed of Bickford animations set to a soundtrack of Zappa's orchestral music.

Bickford's animations depict surreal scenes based on his unique worldview. Often outwardly seeming to be somewhat disconnected from the world around him, Bruce Bickford's work is extremely subjective in its content and concepts, making for some disturbing and shocking imagery. Much of his video work depicted fast-moving, fluid-like transformations of human figures and disfigured faces into odd beasts on surreal structural settings with impressive camera effects (moving around within his stop-motion animation).

His life and work were featured in the 2004 biographical documentary film Monster Road, directed by Brett Ingram.

In 2006, he was working on Boar's Head/Whore's Bed (line animation, 4500+ frames and counting), Tales of the Green River and Castle 2001, a feature-length film which is animated using 3D shapes made out of bits of paper.

In 2008, Prometheus' Garden was released, a 28 minute short originally completed in 1988. The DVD also features Luck of a Foghorn, a documentary about the making of the film.

Bickford was the first guest to appear on the internet radio show Pussyfoot.

In 2010, he made rare appearances in several European cities following an invitation of the Brussels' Offscreen Film Festival and Nova cinema.

In 2015, Bickford was working on a 500+ page graphic novel titled Vampire Picnic. It was stated at the time he was hoping to publish it with Fantagraphics.

On September 1, 2015, Bickford's new animated feature Cas'l was released on DVD. Most of the original animating had been done from 1988-1997. The film (or earlier versions of it) had previously been shown at various film festivals from 2008 onwards with live musical accompaniment, as a final soundtrack was not yet made.

Bickford died on April 28, 2019. He was 72 years old.


  • 1964/65 - Animated model cars and crude clay figures on 8mm film. 10 minutes.
  • 1969 - Tree clay animation. 2.5 minutes.
  • 1970 - Clay battle scene with more detailed figures. 2.5 minutes.
  • 1971 - Last Battle on Flat Earth clay animation. 4 minutes.
  • 1972 - Castle stuff and bar room scene. clay animation. 15 minutes.
  • 1973 - Start of the Quest clay animation short. 3 minutes.
  • 1974 - Little Boy in School ( featuring Gus Reeves as a child) clay animation short. 4 minutes.
  • 1974 - A Token of His Extreme (Frank Zappa)
  • 1979 - Baby Snakes (Frank Zappa)
  • 1982 - The Dub Room Special (Frank Zappa)
  • 1987 - Video From Hell and The Amazing Mr. Bickford (Frank Zappa)
  • 1988 - Prometheus' Garden. 27 minutes.
  • 2004 - Monster Road
  • 2008 - Prometheus' Garden DVD
  • 2015 - Cas'l

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bruce Bickford (animator)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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