Vaughn Bodē (/boʊˈdeɪ/; July 22, 1941 – July 18, 1975) was an American underground cartoonist and illustrator known for his character Cheech Wizard and his artwork depicting voluptuous women. A contemporary of Ralph Bakshi, Bodē has been credited as an influence on Bakshi's animated films Wizards and The Lord of the Rings. Bodē has a huge following among graffiti artists, with his characters remaining a popular subject.
|Born||July 22, 1941|
Utica, New York
|Died||July 18, 1975 (aged 33)|
San Francisco, California
|Awards||Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, 1969|
Yellow Kid Award, 1974
Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, 2006
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Hawkins (m. 1961, divorced 1972)|
In 1963, at age 21, and while living in Utica, New York, Bodē self-published Das Kämpf, considered one of the first underground comic books. Created after Bodē's stint in the U.S. Army, Das Kampf has been called "a war-themed spoof on Charles Schulz's 1962 book Happiness is a Warm Puppy." With money borrowed from his brother Vincent, Bodē photocopied about 100 copies of the 52-page book and (mostly unsuccessfully) attempted to sell it around the Utica area. In the mid 1960s Bodē was living in Syracuse, New York, attending classes at Syracuse University and contributing to The Sword of Damocles, a student-run, though not university-sanctioned, humor magazine similar to The Harvard Lampoon. It was here that Bodē's most famous comic creation, Cheech Wizard, first saw publication. Cheech Wizard (sometimes characterized as a "cartoon messiah") is a wizard whose large yellow hat (decorated with black and red stars) covers his entire body except his legs and his big red feet. Cheech Wizard is constantly in search of a good party, cold beer, and attractive women. Usually depicted without arms, it is never actually revealed what Cheech Wizard looks like under the hat, or exactly what kind of creature he is, although in the episode entitled "The Unmasking of Cheech Wizard", when he "doffs the hat", it is evident that underneath was a low-rent Oz man all along (in an interview, reference is made to the frontal lump in the hat caused by crossed arms). Characters pressing the issue generally are rewarded with a swift kick to the groin by Cheech. After an initial run in The Sword of Damocles, the strip continued for a few more years in The Daily Orange, the student-written newspaper at Syracuse University.
In 1968, Bodē illustrated the cover & interior art for R. A. Lafferty's science fiction novel Space Chantey, published by Ace Double. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he illustrated covers and interior art for the science fiction digests Amazing Stories, Fantastic, Galaxy Science Fiction, Witzend and Worlds of If.
Discovered by fellow cartoonist Trina Robbins, Bodē moved to Manhattan in 1969 and joined the staff of the underground newspaper the East Village Other. It was here that Bodē met Spain Rodriguez, Robert Crumb and other founders of the quickly expanding underground comics world. At the East Village Other, he helped found Gothic Blimp Works, an underground comics supplement to the magazine, which ran for eight issues, the first two edited by Bodē.
Bodē's post-apocalyptic science fiction action series Cobalt 60 featured an antihero wandering a devastated post-nuclear land, seeking to avenge the murder of his parents. Cobalt-60 debuted as a ten-page black-and-white story in the science fiction fanzine Shangri L'Affaires (a.k.a. Shaggy) #73, published in 1968. Bodē won the 1969 Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist largely on the strength of Cobalt 60, but he never did anything else with the character. (Cobalt-60 was later "completed" in the early 1980s by Bodē's's son Mark Bodé, with stories by Larry Todd, who was Vaughn's friend and collaborator in the 1960s on projects for Eerie, Creepy, and Vampirella magazines.)
Beginning in 1968 and continuing until his untimely death, Bodē entered a prolific period of creativity, introducing a number of strips and ongoing series, most of which ran in underground newspapers or erotic magazines:
Print Mint published four issues of Bodē's solo series Junkwaffel from 1971–1974. Bodē's graphic novel The Man, published by Print Mint in 1972, is about a caveman who accidentally makes important observations about life.
Beginning in 1972, Bodē toured with a show called the "Cartoon Concert," that featured him vocalizing his characters while their depictions were presented on a screen behind him via a slide projector. The first of these was presented in October 1972 at the Detroit Triple Fan Fair in front of 80 people. He next did the "Concert" at Bowling Green State University, and eventually performed it at several comic book conventions, including the November 1972 Creation Con in New York City. Observing the crowd reaction, The Bantam Lecture Bureau immediately signed him on, and the show became very popular on the college lecture circuit. Bodē even performed it at The Louvre, in Paris.
Bodē was born in Utica, New York, the son of Kenneth and Elsie Bodé. His surname suggests German heritage. Vaughn was one of four children, including his older brother Victor and younger siblings Vincent and Valerie. Vaughn's father was an alcoholic; he started drawing as a way of escaping a less-than-happy childhood. Bodē's parents divorced when he was around ten years old, and he was sent to live with an uncle near Washington, D.C.
Bodē married Barbara Hawkins at age 20 in 1961. Their son Mark was born in 1963. Barbara divorced Bodē in 1972, and he moved to San Francisco in 1973 (with some of his underground contemporaries, including Robbins and Spain).
Around 1970–1971, conversations with the guru Prem Rawat and fellow cartoonist Jeffrey Catherine Jones (with whom Bodē shared a studio in Woodstock, New York) led Bodē to cross-dressing, transvestism, and even a short-lived experiment with female hormones. Bodē described his sexuality as "auto-sexual, heterosexual, homosexual, mano-sexual, sado-sexual, trans-sexual, uni-sexual, omni-sexual."
Bodē's death was due to autoerotic asphyxiation. His last words were to his son: "Mark, I've seen God four times, and I'm going to see him again soon. That's No. 1 to me, and you're No. 2." Thirty-three years old at the time of his death, Bodē's ashes were dropped from a Cessna airplane over the waters off the coast of Point Reyes.
He left behind a library of sketchbooks, journals, finished and unfinished works, paintings, and comic strips. Most of his art has since been published in a variety of collections, mostly from Fantagraphics.
Bodē was a friend of animator Ralph Bakshi, and warned him against working with Robert Crumb on the animated film adaptation of Crumb's strip Fritz the Cat. Bodē has been credited as an influence on Bakshi's films Wizards and The Lord of the Rings.
Bodē has a huge following among graffiti artists and his work can often be seen replicated in the world of street art. As the original New York graffiti train writers (such as DONDI) chose to replicate his characters, images from his work have remained popular throughout the history of graffiti.
His son Mark Bodé is also an artist, producing works similar to the elder Bodē's style, and further cementing his father's legacy. In 2004, Mark completed one of his father's unfinished works, The Lizard of Oz, a send-up of The Wizard of Oz, starring Cheech Wizard one more time.
The Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist was bestowed upon him in 1969, and he was nominated for Best Professional Artist the following year. He also won the Yellow Kid Award, awarded by the International Congress of Cartoonists and Animators at the Italian Lucca comics festival, in 1974. He was a finalist for induction into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 1998 and 2002, before finally being inducted in 2006.
Collected comics series, artwork and sketches published by Fantagraphics; 14 trade-paperback volumes and one comic book:
Also material collected only by other publishers:
Cobalt 60 is a science fiction comics series created by underground cartoonist Vaughn Bodē. After appearing in one story in 1968, the character lay dormant for almost 20 years. In 1984, Cobalt 60 was revived by Vaughn Bodē's son Mark Bodé and writer Larry Todd.Company
A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity made up of an association of people, be they natural, legal, or a mixture of both, for carrying on a commercial or industrial enterprise. Company members share a common purpose, and unite to focus their various talents and organize their collectively available skills or resources to achieve specific, declared goals. Companies take various forms, such as:
voluntary associations, which may include nonprofit organizations
business entities with an aim of gaining a profit
financial entities and banksA company or association of persons can be created at law as a legal person so that the company in itself can accept limited liability for civil responsibility and taxation incurred as members perform (or fail to discharge) their duty within the publicly declared "birth certificate" or published policy.
Companies as legal persons may associate and register themselves collectively as other companies – often known as a corporate group. When a company closes, it may need a "death certificate" to avoid further legal obligations.Way Up High
Way Up High is a children's book by American writer Roger Zelazny. It is one of two stories he wrote for children, the other being Here There Be Dragons, and one of three books without heroic protagonists. One thousand copies of each of the two books signed by Zelazny were published in 1992 with illustrations by Vaughn Bodē.
Zelazny wrote Here There Be Dragons and Way Up High for his children in 1968-69. He admired the work of underground comics artist Vaughn Bodē and commissioned him to illustrate the two books. The drawings were exhibited at the 1969 World Science Fiction Convention in St. Louis, but before the books could be published Bodē informed Zelazny that although Zelazny owned the pictures he did not have the reproduction rights. Christopher S. Kovacs in his literary biography of Zelazny explains the issue: “Zelazny saw the book as two of his tales illustrated by Bodē, but Bodē viewed it as a showcase of his art illuminated by Zelazny’s text.” The publication of the books foundered when Zelazny and Bodē insisted on equal royalties. Bodē died in 1975 and his estate agreed to the publication of the books with Bodē’s illustrations in 1992.