Vaughn Bode Penciller
BODE, VAUGHN - Dapper Magazine 1971 pg 3, pencil page 12" x 16 1/2". Crab's Ball three page story
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.
Bodē's Cheech Wizard
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. Characters pressing the issue generally are rewarded with a swift kick to the groin by Cheech. After an initial run in the 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 Fanzine 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:
Bodē's strip War Lizards, a look at the Vietnam War from the hostile stance of the period's counterculture, was told with anthropomorphic reptiles instead of people. It ran sporadically in the East Village Other, Witzend, Pig Society, and Bodē's own Junkwaffel from 1969–1972.
Bodē's comic strip Deadbone, about the adventures of the inhabitants of a solitary mountain a billion years in the past, ran in the men's magazine Cavalier from 1969–1975. Originally in black-and-white, when colored the strip changed its title to Deadbone Erotica and later simply to Erotica.
Episodes of Cheech Wizard ran in the "Funny Pages" of National Lampoon magazine in almost every issue from 1971 to 1975.
Bodē's black-and-white science fiction parody Sunpot appeared in Galaxy Science Fiction in the early 1970s. (It was later republished, in color, in Heavy Metal.)
Bodē's monthly comic strip feature Purple Pictography ran in Swank magazine in 1971–1972. (Bernie Wrightson did the painted art for five of Purple Pictography episodes based on Bodé's scripts and rough layouts.)
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.
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