'The Witch's Curse' (The Flintstones #7, Marvel Comics)

Richard ("Dick") Bickenbach was an American animator, voice actor and comics artist. He worked for several classic animation studios from the 1930s until the 1950s - among them Warner Brothers - but is most associated with Hanna-Barbera. While working as a designer, lay-out artist and animator for their TV series he was also an assistant on the Sunday pages of 'The Flintstones' newspaper comic (1961-1965) and various comics books starring the "modern stone-age family" as well as 'Yogi Bear'.

Animation career
Richard Bickenbach was born in Indiana in 1907. In the mid 1930s he moved to Los Angeles, where he became an animator for Ub Iwerks, but left after his studio closed down. Between 1939 and 1947 he worked as an animator and lay-out artist for Warner Bros' Cartoon Studio, first in Bob Clampett  and Friz Freleng's department, then at Arthur Davis and Bob McKimson's.

Bickenbach was a spot-on imitator of famous crooner Bing Crosby and voiced caricatures of the singer in various Looney Tunes shorts, among them Frank Tashlin's 'Swooner Crooner' (1944), Clampett's 'Book Revue' (1946), Freleng's 'Hollywood Daffy' (1946), McKimson's 'Hollywood Canine Canteen' (1946), 'Hollywood Daffy' (1946), 'The Mouse-Merized Cat' (1946) and 'What's Up Doc?' (1950) and Arthur Davis' 'Catch As Cats Can' (1947). This wasn't the first time the famous singer was caricatured in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Earlier, Crosby had been parodied in Tom Palmer's 'I've Got To Sing A Torch Song' (1933), Freleng's 'Let It Be Me' (1936) and 'Bingo Crosbyana' (1936), Tashlin's 'The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos' (1937) and Tex Avery's 'Hollywood Steps Out' (1941), albeit voiced by a different impressionist. Later he would be lampooned again in Clampett's  'What's Cookin' Doc?' (1944), 'The Old Grey Hare' (1946) and Freleng's 'Curtain Razor' (1949). All these parodies were quite daring, considering that the famous singer actually sued Warners over his portrayal in 'Let It Be Me' and 'Bingo Crosbyana'. But he lost his case and the animation studio therefore enjoyed ridiculing him again and again, particularly his notorious bad luck at the horse races. 


Sketch with Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound by Dick Bickenbach

In 1947 Bickenbach joined MGM's cartoon studio where he worked on various 'Tom & Jerry' cartoons by Hanna-Barbera. When MGM closed down its animation department in 1957 William Hanna and Joseph Barbera went into television and started their own company. Bickenbach became one of their longest-running employees, designing model sheets and lay-outs for several of their most popular shows: 'The Huckleberry Hound Show', 'Quick Draw McGraw', 'The Flintstones', 'Yogi Bear', 'The Jetsons', 'Top Cat', 'Magilla Gorilla', 'Jonny Quest', 'The Hercuoloids'  and 'Scooby-Doo'. Bickenbach is credited with designing the first official model sheets of Yogi Bear. 

Flintstones by Dick Bickenbach
'The Flintstones' Sunday comic from 1963

Comics career
As he worked in Hanna-Barbera's animation studio Bickenbach also drew comics based on 'The Flintstones' and 'Yogi Bear'. The main artist of 'The Flintstones' newspaper comics (1961-1967) was Gene Hazelton, while Bickenbach was one of several assistants who contributed to the Sunday page. When Marvel Comics launched 'Flintstones' and 'Yogi Bear' comic book lines between 1977 and 1979 he was the main artist behind them, while Lee Hooper provided inking and Mark Evanier wrote the stories.

Final years and death
In 1984 Bickenbach received a Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Golden Award. He passed away a decade later. 


'Don't give up the sheep' (Yogi Bear #4, Marvel Comics)

Series and books by Dick Bickenbach in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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