Wizards, Lizards And Other Figments Of Fancy: A Birthday Tribute To Vaughn Bode [NSFW]
Vaughn Bodé is one of the few comics creators whose work transcends genre and style – his art can't be compared to anything but itself, and can really only be described and categorized as "Vaughn Bodé style". In his brief career, he redefined the very idea of what a cartoonist could be, pioneering a drawing style that inspired and confounded, blending and distorting fantasy tropes with every pen stroke. His stories were filled with spaced-out hallucinations and a direct, earthy sensuality, and established him as a guru of graphic storytelling and the first proper rock star of the comics field.
Bodé's work appeared in Wally Wood's Witzend, the legendary underground newspaper The East Village Other, adult magazines Cavalier and Swank, National Lampoon, Creepy, Eerie, and many other publications as well. He performed "cartoon concerts" to sold-out crowds across the United States, narrating and performing his works while accompanied by projections.
His lumpy/fluid imagery also had an effect on a wide range of creators. Bodé's work was a primary influence on Ralph Bakshi's cult-classic animated film Wizards; his design influence can be seen in work by generations of comics artists (including Jeffrey Jones, Richard Corben, Sam Keith, Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird, and countless others), and he had a massive effect on street artists and graffiti painters. Indeed, many a subway train rolled along the tracks of New York City decked out with brightly-colored renditions of Bodé characters, and even today, he remains a revered figure in Hip-Hop art circles.
Bodé died young, but his art has proved to be immortal. His stories have been reprinted and republished countless times, and carrying on the family legacy, his son Mark Bodé is a hugely respected figure in his own right, a comics creator and fine artist who has continued the stories of his father's characters and created a fine original body of work as well.
To mark the occasion of his birthday, ComicsAlliance reached out to a handful of our favorite modern-day artists to offer their takes on Bodé – his characters, his style, his feeling, and his inspiration.