Born in 1941 in Utica, New York as WWII broke out, Vaughn Bodé had a traumatic childhood. He first created a stir with his art in several college newspapers at Syracuse University.
Professional and hardworking, Bodé blazed through the world of comics in less than a decade. His cartooning career took off in the late ’60s, as he art-directed, created animated commercials, made comic books, won a Hugo Award, and contributed to magazines such as EVO, The East Village Other, National Lampoon, Creepy, and Eerie. His series Deadbone (or Deadbone Erotica) ran in the men’s magazine Cavalier for over 200 episodes — first in black and white and later in color — and was collected in several formats, while his signature character Cheech Wizard appeared in fanzines, underground comix, and ultimately the National Lampoon. Other highlights of his career include the early, melancholy masterpiece The Man and the aborted science fiction serial Sunpot.
In his personal life, Bodé experimented with drugs, transvestitism, spirituality and sexuality; his complex attitudes toward the latter two would figure heavily into his comics work and lead him to describe himself as “The Cartoon Messiah” and “auto-sexual, heterosexual homosexual, mano-sexual, sado-sexual, trans-sexual, uni-sexual, omni-isexual.” He developed a performance entitled “The Bodé Cartoon Concert,” which eventually played the Louvre. A variety of merchandise with his images appeared. At the peak of his success, he settled in San Francisco in 1974, where he died in 1975 from an accident involving self-asphyxiation.
Posthumously, Vaughn Bodé influenced hip-hop culture, including spray-can art; Cheech Wizard and a host of Lizards and Bodé Broads decorate walls, trains and subway tunnels all over the world. Aside from the characters, Bodé’s distinctive lettering has also influenced the early “Wild Style” script of the late ’70s and early ’80s. (Check out the cover of Afrika Bambaataa’s 12” “Wild Style” for a fine example, and more recently, fonts inspired by graffiti.) Additionally, his characters are recurring figures in the lyrical world of the Beastie Boys, and in 1998 Cheech Wizard appeared in the title of a remix of British Djs Coldcut. There’s even a band named after his comic Junkwaffel. Ralph Bakshi’s animated film Wizards is widely considered to be a rip-off of Bodé’s work.
Fantagraphics has published virtually Bodé’s complete oeuvre including Deadbone, Cheech Wizard, four volumes of Bodé’s Erotica, Junkwaffel, Bodé Diary Sketcbhooks, Lizard Zen, Schizophrenia and The Lizard of Oz; The Lizard of Oz was conceived by Vaughn and carried out 30 years later by his son Mark.
Featured books by Vaughn Bodé (click covers for complete product details & ordering information)
All books by Vaughn Bodé