Thursday, 21 January 2016

Cobalt 60

Vaughn Bode: " I set up the Cobalt 60 strip and found myself uneasy, restless and wandering toward fluttering creative excitements. It's flowing out of me again like water...I can really identify with the dusty future of Earth... where I will be part of the quiet hissing afternoon dust..."

Cobalt 60 is one of the darkest, if not THE darkest, projects in Vaughn Bode's work. A post-apocalypse punch in the face, it's grim, ultra-violent and despairing, and comes with a killer ending that, like Bode's earlier The Man, shows The Cartoon Gooroo's mastery at delinating big themes with a minimum of words. He was an artist who wrote, rather than a writer who drew, and that's never clearer than here.
Vaughn originally created Cobalt 60 in 1959, but the death dealing mutant didn't see print until 1968, in the above issue of Wally Wood's Witzend, in the process winning him the Hugo award for Best Fanzine Artist of that year.
He created a whole world for Cobalt to move around in, along with a full cast of characters, but ultimately found the series too depressing to continue with and abandoned the idea. It was also a major 'influence' on Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, a film Bode was reportedly none too happy about.
As nice an idea as Bode in animation is, his work kind of doesn't need it, being the closest thing to 'static' animation there is, and Cobalt 60, in particular, is a strip that could only be in presented in black & white anyway. Here it is:

Vaughn did try one more time with Cobalt 60, with this unfinished piece posthumously published in Junkwaffel #4. This one is even darker and more uncompromising than it's predecessor, and you do get the feeling that even Vaughn felt he'd written himself into a corner.
Which is presumably why, when son Mark Bode took up the character in 1984 for a new series in Epic Illustrated, he went in a completely different direction. We'll get to that series, of course, but here's the original.


  1. Big fan of Bode's work and Cobalt 60 was one of my favourite of his strips - wasn't so keen on his sons version though

  2. Well, it's tricky. Neither Mark's version of Cobalt or his Cheech Wizard piece ( The Lizard Of Oz )are a patch on Vaughn's work, but they never could be really.
    I still kind of like them for what they are, and who has more of a right to continue them? Know what you mean, tho'.

  3. How did Vaughn Bode, who died in 1975, come to have an opinion on the 1977 film WIZARDS?

  4. Because it had been in production that far back. Bode had allegedly been approached about being involved, said no, then was annoyed that Bakshi had ( in Vaughn's eyes ) ripped off his character design's, as in the android ' Peace '. That's what he was ( allegedly ) pissed off about. Or other stories say that Bakshi did his version of Bode without asking, and Vaughn got wind of it. Not slagging off Ralph here, by the way, and if anyone has evidence to the contrary, that's fine. Either way, enough sources have quoted Bode's dissatisfaction to be able to state that, at least anecdotally.