Vaughn Bodē

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Vaughn Bodē
Vaughn Bode.jpg
Born (1941-07-22)July 22, 1941[1]
Utica, New York
Died July 18, 1975(1975-07-18) (aged 33)
Nationality American
Area(s) Cartoonist
Notable works
Cheech Wizard

Hugo Award, Best Fan Artist, 1969

Yellow Kid Award, 1975.

Official website

Vaughn Bodē (/bˈd/; July 22, 1941 - July 18, 1975) was an artist involved in underground comics and graphic design. He is perhaps best known for his comic strip character Cheech Wizard and artwork depicting voluptuous women. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame for comics artists in 2006.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bodē was born in Utica, New York, and started drawing as a way of escaping a less-than-happy childhood.


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. In 1968, he moved to Manhattan 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 EVO, he introduced Gothic Blimp Works, a comics supplement to the magazine, which ran for eight issues, the first two edited by Bodē.

Bodē’s most famous comic creation is the character Cheech Wizard. Episodes of Cheech Wizard ran in the "Funny Pages" of National Lampoon magazine in almost every issue from 1970 to 1975.

Cheech Wizard 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. He is usually depicted without arms. Cheech Wizard is constantly in search of a good party, cold beer, and attractive women. 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.

The post-apocalyptic science fiction action series Cobalt 60 presented an anti-hero named Cobalt 60 who wandered in a devastated post-nuclear land, seeking to avenge the murder of his parents.

Other Bodē creations include Deadbone (the first testament of Cheech Wizard, the cartoon messiah), the adventures of the inhabitants of a solitary mountain a billion years in the past; and War Lizards, a look at the Vietnam War reflecting the hostile stance of the period's counterculture. It is told with anthropomorphic reptiles instead of people.


Towards the end of his life, Vaughn 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 at Phil Seuling's convention on the July 4th weekend at the N.Y.C. Comic Con in 1972. Observing the crowd reaction, The Bantam Lecture Company immediately signed him on. This show became very popular on the college lecture circuit, beginning with his debut at the Bowling Green University, in Ohio. He eventually performed his Cartoon Concert at several Comic book conventions, culminating in a show at The Louvre, in Paris.


Bodē's death was due to autoerotic asphyxiation; his last words (to his son) were, "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."[3] 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, most 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.[4] Bodē has been credited as an influence on Bakshi's films Wizards and The Lord of the Rings.[5][6]

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 (born 1963) is also an artist, often producing works similar to the elder Bodē’s style. Recently 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.


  • Das Kämpf, self-published in 1963, considered to be one of the first underground comic books.
  • Bodé's comic strip feature Deadbone (b&w), then Deadbone Erotica (now in color) and later re-titled Erotica, appeared in the men's magazine Cavalier continuously (with the exception of April 1975) from May 1969 through August 1975. From September 1975 onwards, reprints of previously published Deadbone strips appeared, as Bode had died in July 1975.
  • Bodé's comic strip feature Purple Pictography appeared monthly in the men's magazine Swank from August 1971 through April 1972. Bernie Wrightson did the finished painted art for five of those episodes based on Bodé's scripts and rough layouts.
  • Cheech Wizard ran monthly in National Lampoon from 1971-1975.
  • Space Chanty by R.A. Lafferty, an Ace Double science fiction novel, had a cover & interior art by Bodē.
  • Amazing Stories, Fantastic, Galaxy, and (Worlds of) If science fiction digests featured covers and interior art by Bodē during the 1960s and early 70s. Additionally, his black and white science fiction parody, "Sunpot" appeared in Galaxy.
  • Junkwaffel. Issues 1-4 first published by Print Mint from 1971 to 1974. The final issue, number 5, was published by Last Gasp and included some reprints from the first four issues.
  • The Man, 1972, an independent comic about a cave man who accidentally made important observations about life.
  • Sunpot, was republished in fantasy/science fiction publication Heavy Metal, April through July 1977.
  • Cobalt-60. Book one created by Vaughn Bodē, illustrated by Mark Bodé, written by Larry Todd. Northampton, Ma.: Tundra Publishing, 1992. ISBN 1-879450-35-6

Collected Works[edit]

Collected comics series, artwork and sketches published by Fantagraphics; 14 trade-paperback volumes and one comic book:

  • Deadbone
  • Erotica Vol. 1
  • Erotica Vol. 2
  • Erotica Vol. 3
  • Erotica Vol. 4
  • Cheech Wizard Vol. 1
  • Cheech Wizard Vol. 2
  • JunkWaffel Vol. 1
  • JunkWaffel Vol. 2
  • Lizard Zen
  • Schizophrenia
  • Diary Sketchbook Vol. 1
  • Diary Sketchbook Vol. 2
  • Diary Sketchbook Vol. 3
  • Collected Purple Pictography; published by Fantagraphic's sub-imprint Eros Comix as comic book one-shot.

also material collected only by other publishers:

  • Poem-Toons; published by Kitchen Sink/Tundra
  • Vaughn Bode: Rare And Well Done; fanzine and small press work; published by Pure Imagination
  • Orange Bode: Vaughn Bode At Syracuse's Daily Orange - An Annotated Catalog; 160pps, published by Bob Coughlin/Chimneysweep Nostalgia Co, 1978


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 at the Italian Lucca comics festival, in 1974. He was a finalist for induction into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 1998 and 2002.


  1. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 Feb 2013), Vaughn Bode, July 1975; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  2. ^ "The 2006 Eisner Award Winners". San Diego Comic-Con. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  3. ^ Frucci, Angela (2004-05-31). "Following a Wiz to a Far-Out Oz; A Son Completes the Legacy Of an Underground Cartoonist". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  4. ^ Gibson, Jon M.; McDonnell, Chris (2008). "Fritz the Cat". Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi. Universe Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 0-7893-1684-6. 
  5. ^ Beck, Jerry (2005). "Wizards". The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 317. ISBN 978-1-55652-591-9. 
  6. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (2006). "Bakshi, Ralph". Who's who in Animated Cartoons. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 15. ISBN 1-55783-671-X. 

External links[edit]