As a teenager In the 1980s, T.V, radio, books,magazines, they were the media you went to devour content and to make all those connections to the things you’d seen and wanted to know more about, wanted to love, and eventually allowed those things to shape you.
I remember seeing the book Spraycan Art in my local WH Smiths when it first came out and me and my friends pouring over it, devouring every image on every page, everyday after school, until I purchased it at the end of the week with my paper round money.I was 14.
Within Spraycan Art (and the earlier and then later published Subway Art) were page after page of full bleed, double spread photographs documenting the history of graffiti on the trains and buildings of New York. What a book!
These visual images, married with our teenage soundtrack of the time (namecheck Schooly D,Beastie Boys,Public Enemy,Eric and Rakim,Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince were a few) helped a section of the teenage youth of the U.K understand better the american subculture they were trying to connect with and understand. Suddenly we had artists as well as musicians we could talk about - “check out this piece by Mode 2!”,”Dondi is fucking d--o--p--e, dope”,”Seen is fucking wicked man!” “Look at this character by Phase, I’m stealing that !”
The whole “I’m stealing that!” was what we did, and in an innocent and admiring way, a teenage boy fanart way. From copying the bars and flows of the rappers we loved for our evening rap crew session ( except we didn’t call them bars back then) to copying our favourite grafitti artists styles and characters in the backs of our school books when we should have been studying.
Cheech wizard, Bode Lizard, Bode broad,characters so loved by b-boy culture in the 80s, these characters used by the first wave grafitti artists of the 1970s and 1980s and onwards to the present were the creations of the underground comic artist genius Vaughn Bode.
The website junkwaffel.com is the official Vaughn Bode archive with a very good selection of Vaughn's works and a very good bibliography. For a general overview of Vaughn's life WIKI does a pretty good write,I was going to write an abridged version but I prefer using Wiki’s as not only does it save time but it also goes into more detail that I would have and I want to give the man justice for how much he influenced the underground comic scene of the 1960s and 1970s.
"In 1963 at age 22, Bodē self-published Das Kämpf, considered one of the first underground comic books
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 toThe 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:
InfluenceBodē 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."
As the last quote from Wiki states, Vaughn Bode’s son is continuing his father’s footsteps as a comic artist and creator and also the guardian of his father’s legacy and copyright..
I tracked down Mark and found out through his website that Mark is a successful creator in his own right, having worked in numerous successful comic creations. I contacted Mark as I wanted his permission to use his father’s Cheech Wizard print as part of the design for our catalogue for the festival and was super stoked when Mark agreed to give us permission! Thanks Mark! We also asked Mark to do an interview for the Black Hook Press website in the coming months which he agreed to which is super great so we will go into further details about Mark, Mark’s dad, and what Mark is up to these days within that interview.
But for now enjoy the works comic character genius Vaughn Bode!!!