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The Amazing Mr. Bickford

Clay puppets, miniature sets, cutouts, replacement animation, aluminum foil, “strato-cut” slices, molten wax, and other techniques…

The Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles is running two nights of rare goodies created by eccentric animator Bruce Bickford. First up, on August 24th, a rare showing (with permission from Gail Zappa) of The Amazing Mr. Bickford, which has never shown theatrically. Bickford will be in attendance for a Q&A after the 7:30pm screening. From the theatrer’s press release:

Bruce Bickford’s art–a hallucinatory stop-motion amalgamation of Peter Pan, Ray Harryhausen, and The Wild Bunch–is nothing short of amazing. Frank Zappa first used the incredible talents of self-taught claymation wizard Bickford as visual companions to his music in the film Baby Snakes, and continued this collaboration in The Amazing Mr. Bickford.

On Tuesday August 26th at 8pm the same theatre will screen “Cas’l and Other Unreleased Bruce Bickford Films”, showcasing some of Bruce’s early Super-8 experiments as a teenager, as well as his unfinished 45-minute opus Cas’l, featuring a live score by The Gaslamp Killer. Also, Bickford will be there to perform one of his “blues raps”. For more information visit

  • FP

    Bickford’s work is like nothing else. It’s great. It’s insane. It’s worth a look.

    I never heard of his “raps”, though. They could make for some squirmy moments.

  • tom

    I’m lucky enough to know Mr. Bickford through a cartoon club we both attend in Seattle. He’s the real thing. His work is truly inspired psychedelia of the highest order. He’s brilliant, and he works in both table top animation and in 2D hand drawn animation, doing all of the work entirely by himself. He’s an incredible artist.

  • Animation Pimp

    we’re showing his new film in competition in Ottawa. It was a pleasant mindfuck of a surprise.

  • I was introduced to his work when I was in high school, I met one of his assistants, and he had a few of the models from one of the Zappa videos. After watching the films and it was astounding to see how big his characters are. They are minuscule, I don’t think I saw one character that was bigger than 2 inches. His work is fantastic and to think everything he does is tiny is even more remarkable.

  • Jeff Stern

    Bickford is a rare edgy artist who never played kiss up and sell out to the development executive frauds. All he needed was a creative, sympatico spiritual benefactor and Mr. Zappa beautifully filled that role.

  • I remember a clip that was once posted here in the Brew some time ago. It really blew my mind; this man’s brain literally bursts with creativity.

    Which makes me wonder what would happen if someone like him suddenly had the amount of economic support enjoyed by major studios? Would he be able to engage in even more fantastic projects, or would his inherent style and vision become dilluted?

  • Doug Jones

    If you want a primer on Bickford’s work and life, there was a feature documentary a few years back about him called Monster Road. It’s probably on netflix, but if not, you can get it at the filmmaker’s web site,

  • He’s going to be appearing in Portland, OR, on Saturday, at the Bagdad Theater, around 6, I think. I’d go, but it’s 21+… blast…

  • You shouldn’t have mention Gail Zappa. It only encourages her.

  • In a more enlightened society, Bruce Bickford would be heralded as a national treasure. I envy each and every person that has the ability to attend these programs.

    And John S., please elaborate regarding Gail Zappa. As a longtime FZ admirer I’d like to know what your thoughts are.

  • I just caught Bruce at the Portland Oregon, Bagdad Theatre show! It was an amazing opportunity to meet him in person, shake his hand and have a nice friendly chat about animation with him.

    Bruce had a whole table full of his ORIGINAL tiny clay figurines for sale, embedded into slices of foam core, with little plastic windows to protect them. I ended up with a fantastic little guy with a shiny sword, and a little severed head next to him, just under 1″ high, and tremendously detailed. Amazing! I just had to run to the bank and withdraw cash to buy a dvd and some artwork.

    Bring your pocketbook, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy some original artwork directly from Bruce!

    Fantastic show! Wish I could catch the premiere of the Amazing Mr Bickford!

    Go Bruce!

  • matt Tamaru

    Bruce is an amazing figure in animation and still producing breathtaking stuff. I’m especially a big fan of his 2D work.
    An artist with an unwavering commitment to his vision and a process that tears the mind to pieces. There will NEVER be another Bruce Bickford.

    I’m so glad I can say that I know him.