I’ve just come across the Twitter project Old Underground Comix (Mostly)I, an entertaining account that recently shared this great art by Vaughn Bodé and Jeffrey Catherine Jones, first published in the American title Junkwaffel in the 1970s. This in turn led me to the entertaining distraction of the official Vaughn Bodé web site run by his son, Mark.
It prompted artist Pete Doree (creator of the hilarious comic Stan & Jack) suggests someone should really write a play about the year Vaughn and Jeff shared a house in Woodstock. “These days it’d sell like gangbusters,” he suggests.
Vaughn Bodé, who died in 1975, “in San Francisco in a mystic experiment gone wrong”, according to the official web site dedicated to the creator by his son, Mark, was an American underground cartoonist and illustrator known for his character Cheech Wizard and his artwork depicting voluptuous women. A contemporary of Ralph Bakshi, Bodé has been credited as an influence on Bakshi’s animated films Wizards and The Lord of the Rings. He was the recipient in 1969 of a Hugo Award, and received the Yellow Kid award in Lucca, Italy, in 1975.
“Vaughn is one of the most influential American cartoonists of our time,” Mark enthuses, whose site offers a rare glimpse into the life of a legendary artist, presenting unseen photos and unpublished works. “Much of graffiti art itself comes from the work of Vaughn Bodé. Rendering his characters, lettering and cartoon semiotics is a rite of passage for graffiti art crews.
“Unrecognised by most in the fine art realm, the worlds and characters he created permeate our collective pop image bank like a classic visual rock & roll soundtrack for our times.”
Jeffrey Catherine Jones, who died in 2011, was an American artist who created the cover art for over 150 books, then ventured into fine art. Regarded by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta as “the greatest living painter”, although Jones first achieved fame as simply Jeff Jones and lived for a time as male, she later changed her name and transitioned to female.
Vaughn Bodé’s Junkwaffel was ostensibly launched to compile his obscure or unpublished early stories, and for that reason it is regarded as an essential title for Bodéphiles, argues M. Steven Jones.
The initial four-issue series was published by the Print Mint from 1971 to 1972 and includes Bodé’s anti-war “Machines” and the ominous “Cobalt 60.” In 1983, Last Gasp and Bodé’s former wife, Barbara, published the magazine-sized Junkwaffel #5, which featured more early work, including Bodé’s unpublished newspaper strip “Zooks!” At the same time, Last Gasp also reprinted the first four issues in the Junkwaffel series.
The series was later compiled in two trade paperbacks by Fantagraphics, both available on Amazon (for one), although they’re not cheap!
Fantagraphics collected Vaughn Bodé’s psychedelic drug-inspired underground Cheech Wizard strips in Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me, back in 2015.
With thanks to to Pete Doree for sending me down this rabbit hole