Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Vaughn Bodé (July 22, 1941 - July 18, 1975), was an influential artist involved in and inspirational to underground comics, graphic design, and graffiti. He is perhaps best-known for his comic strip character Cheech Wizard , an anthropomorphic hat with almost no scruples; and artwork depicting voluptuous women. His works are noted for their psychedelic look and feel.
In 1969 he moved to Manhattan and joined the staff of the underground newspaper the East Village Other. It was here that Bodé 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 Bodé.
The Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist was bestowed upon him in 1969, and he was nominated for Best Professional Artist the following year. Additionally, he won the Yellow Kid Award, Italy's award for illustration, in 1975.
Bodé’s most memorable comic creation is Cheech Wizard, a limp yellow wizard’s hat with big red feet who is constantly in search of a good party, cold beer, and attractive women. Many people feel that Ralph Bakshi cribbed the Cheech Wizard art style for his film Wizards.
It is never actually revealed what Cheech Wizard looks like under the hat, or what exactly he is for a kind of creature. Characters pressing the issue generally are rewarded with a swift kick to the groin by Cheech.
In an early comic, "Captured by Morton Frog", 1967, Cheech takes off his hat for a policeman, a priest and a political leader.(Symbols of power, btw.) You can clearly see him holding his hat in his hands, off the rest of his body. The face is hidden by the speech balloon, but you can see glimpses of hair on top. All three persons witnessing his face fall into cataleptic states forever. Cheech walks away their fortress claiming that "Their primitive minds couldn't accept the truths". In a later comic, "Who is C.W.?", 1974, One of Cheech's lovers insists on seeing his true face. Cheech claims that she will die instantly or go insane. After having her signed a waiver freeing him of legal responsibilities, he agrees to take off his hat. The comic ends abruptly at mid-page with Cheech screaming "Okay! Here goes, But I bet you go blind!"
Other creations include Deadbone, the adventures of the inhabitants of a solitary mountain a billion years in the past; and War Lizards, an often unflinching look at the Vietnam War, told with anthropomorphic reptiles instead of people.
Common themes in Bodé’s works include the use of lizard-like creatures as stand-ins for "real" humans (though most of his female characters are quite human) and the use of urban dialects and slang for the speech of the inhabitants of his cartoon worlds. Like those of other underground cartoonists, Bodé’s comics illustrate many aspects of the counterculture: sexual experimentation, drug use, and an overall relaxing of social taboos, just to name a few.
Though some sources list Bodé's death as caused by a motorcycle accident, his death was actually due to an experiment in autoerotic asphyxiation. He left behind a veritable library of sketchbooks, finished and unfinished works, paintings, and comic strips. Most of his art has since been published in a variety of collections.
His son Mark Bodé (born 1963) is an artist in his own right, often producing works similar to the elder Bodé’s style. Recently Mark completed one of his father’s unfinished works, The Lizard of Oz, a delightfully lecherous send-up of The Wizard of Oz, starring Cheech Wizard one more time.
- Das Kampf, self-published in 1963, considered to be one of the first underground comic books.
- Deadbone appeared monthly in the science fiction magazine Galaxy from 1969 to 1971.
- Junkwaffel. Issues 1-4 first ran in Print Mint from 1971 to 1974. The final issue, number 5, appeared in Last Gasp along with reprints of the first four.
- Cheech Wizard ran monthly in National Lampoon from 1971-1975.
- "Once upon a time at 2:30 in the afternoon, there was a wise and benevolent wizard who wore a big hat and went by the handle Cheech Wizard."
- "Cheech was my father’s alter ego, a bad-mouth hat with no respect for anyone, completely the opposite of Vaughn, who was charismatic, but shy."
- Mark Bodé, on Cheech Wizard
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