Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Man

Can't believe it's taken me this long to post this little classic. Vaughn Bode was one of the great Underground cartoonists of the '60's and early '70's, his beautifully drawn, sexually explicit and mind-expanding comics causing a small revolution by bridging the gap between personal statement & commercial art in series like Erotica, Deadbone, Junkwaffel and his best known character, Cheech Wizard. ( All of which we'll be looking at as we go along ).
Bode's work is hugely influential, and much imitated, and not just in comics. The chunky, clunky style of graffiti art, and particularly of graffiti lettering, is directly traceable to his bright, unique style.
But before he tuned in, turned on and became the legendary Cartoon Gooroo, he came up with this early masterpiece, The Man.

The Man is one of those great comic strips that does what comics can uniquely do. It's a strip that expresses some huge ideas and emotions with just a few lines of dialogue and some deceptively simple looking artwork. Although it's not as polished as his later work, it's all about making you feel what the protagonist is feeling, and there it succeeds brilliantly. But don't take my word for it. Here's what Ray Bradbury had to say about this strip:
" The Man by Vaughn Bode is very sad and very touching and full of the loneliness that must have been beast/man's long before we knew more of love and what it could do to save us from the uncaring universe, and, often, ourselves. "


  1. Absolutely brilliant but incredibly sad...much like da Bode hisself! More, please!

  2. I met Bode once back in the Seventies at a comic convention here in Detroit, I remember his head of ringlets much like Marc Bolan's from T Rex. I was showing my artwork to different pros who were set up there, and as my style was something of a hybrid between underground and mainstream comic art, one of the pros (I think it was Russ Heath) steered me in the direction of Bode. He liked my work, I was given an address by him and was told to send him a portfolio of my work. Alas, not only did I not follow through, but Vaughn was dead not long after. And, who knows what happened to that scrap of paper with his name and address on it, but it may still be tucked away somewhere.

  3. Wow, I'd've love to met Bode! How cool is that?
    And you're right, Guy, the man hisself always looks like a cross between Marc Bolan & Jim Morrison in photos. Lot's more Bode on the way.

  4. There's a coupple videos of Vaughn on YouTube from the year before he died.

  5. Pete:
    I’m not a big Bodé fan, but I’ve always loved The Man. It’s a wonderful political parable, and reminds me of some of Jules Feiffer’s longer work (i.e., the stories in Passionella or Feiffer’s Album).