Vaughn Bode, artist (“Who is Sam Bellotto? What is Perihelion?”)

Vaughn Bode (1941-1975), one of the most influential American cartoonists of our time, got his start while in college in the late 1960s, illustrating science fiction for a student magazine founded by Sam Bellotto, Jr, and Eric Jones (see previous blog post, “Who is Sam Bellotto? What is Perihelion?”). Below, a file photo of Vaughan and a January 1969 Perihelion cover:

Vaughn Bode    issue 6

Sam Bellotto, Jr., emailed me:

I met Vaughn when I was in college. Long Island U. in Brooklyn. He was finishing up at Syracuse University. He had seen an issue or two of “Perihelion” and wanted to contribute. He was going to be in New York City for a few days, so we got together. He wound up staying in our dorm the entire week. That would be me, Eric Jones, and a couple others on the magazine. We introduced him to some people we had contacts with in New York. Helped him get one of his first big paying jobs doing comics for the “East Village Other.” He did a cover, several comic strips, and some spot illustrations for the magazine.

What a coup for a small student magazine, to draw talent that big–and to have that magazine help launch the artist on his career path!

“Vaughn Bode…also is considered one of the godfathers of Graffiti culture “-

“Much of graffiti art itself comes from the work of Vaughn Bode,” says his son Mark at, and I quote:

— Rendering his characters, lettering and cartoon semiotics is a rite of passage for graffiti art crews.

— Unrecognized 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.

— Vaughn was the recipient in 1969 of a Hugo Award.

— In 1975 he received the Yellow Kid award in Lucca, Italy.

— Vaughn began drawing at the age of five. He remembered himself as “an extremely introverted kid, completely unable to relate to the world around me…I started creating my own fantasy world populated with my own little creatures.”

— On September 27, 1957 at 2:30 pm, he designed a unique little wizard who wore a huge hat and that became the infamous Cheech Wizard. The inspiration for the name came from a can of Cheechy Nuts.

— Incredibly prolific in a career that barely spanned two decades, Vaughn produced a phenomenal body of work. Among his publications are the self-published DAS KAMPF, which was one of the first underground comics in 1963. He was the editor of GOTHIC BLIMP WORKS the first weekly underground comic published by the EAST VILLAGE OTHER in the 1960’s. DEADBONE was featured in GALAXY MAGAZINE from 1969-1971 and CHEECH WIZARD for NATIONAL LAMPOON MAGAZINE from 1971-1975. His JUNKWAFFLE comics 1-4 were published by Last Gasp 1971-1974.

— Vaughn Bode died on July 18,1975 in San Francisco in a mystic experiment gone wrong.

About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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