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The work here called Bodé/Schizophrenia
was written in 1973 and appeared first in black and white in 1974; it is
reproduced for the first time in color.
Vaughn Bodé died in 1975; the cause of death is not given here. Indeed, theres no explanation of who Vaughn
Bodé was or why the publisher, Fantagraphic Books, thinks that it is worth
reprinting this artwork. Also in this
128 page book are Confessions of a Cartoon Guru, which is mostly a journal entry
about himself; black and white comic-strip works called The Man, Scratch 22,
and January 7, 1973; a color comic strip called Larry Stickletodd; and a
few other images from Bodés work.
The themes in these works are
solitude, humans versus nature, the expansion of consciousness, eroticism,
self-denigration, the violence of humans, and suicide. Bodé seems to rail against society and its
restrictions, small mindedness, politics and intolerance. Reading through these pieces, one gets a
powerful sense of Bodés strong emotions, a mixture of tragic sadness and
exuberant celebration of himself. The
journal entries are the most distinctive and bizarre pieces here; they go on
for pages, sometimes almost incoherent.
My mind blows on goes my body whirls and twirls,
like a hot Rock DERVISH, orange Buddha cloth flowing. I sing, dance, chant, and laugh into ecstasy. I cry for hours, like BLLEDING a river from
every pore until I AM GASPING ALL AWARENESS OF LOVE, the huge SORROW OF
Dont go back, please, stay up and see how to see as
youve never seen before. What is man
without the SON to show light and grow their seeds. ALL MY ONE, WHO ARE YOU NOW? FEEL THAT INTONESS OF FAR BEING?
FEEL SONGS UNSUNG YET DREAMED? We are
YOUR GIFT FROM HIGH WE ARE, DO YOU KNOW?
The art style has a psychedelic flavor to it, and there are
plenty of mushrooms and speaking insects and reptiles, as well as stars and
planets. His drawing is confident and
lively, and the work here is distinctive and challenging.
the ideas here now seem dated. It has
been quite some time since the idea of acid-trips as journeys of exploration
were in vogue, and the when Bodé says that his cartoons are the reflected
experiences of a real other world place.
Im simply going back into my head
and capturing what I see and hear. it seems like he might be capturing his
may well appeal to those who dont recoil at the mention of the word
hippy. The sensibility behind this
work is firmly in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and Bodé died when this
movement was just past its peak. For
someone like myself, who was far more influenced by the punk movement, the word
hippy is a clear insult. But I still
like the music of Marc Bolan and T. Rex, and I can see the appeal of Bodés
In one of
the journal essays, Bodé mentions Robert Lindners book The
Fifty-Minute Hour. Bodé says he
when he read the book, he cried like a lost boy threatened in some giant
darkness. I was struck numb,
petrified that I could be cured of my own universe. Fortunately for me, unlike Lindners patient, I had chosen art
... for my work, an art form that demands an intensely active imagination,
cartooning. Its interesting to
speculate what experience Bodé had of the mental health system, and whether he
was ever given a diagnosis his journal entries certainly seem manic at
times. Its also tempting to read manic
depression into the highs and lows that Bodé depicts. But of course, thats a terribly simplistic way to approach an
leaves the question why he called one of his major (autobiographical?) pieces
Schizophrenia. In the 1970s, as the
ideas of psychiatrist R.D.
Laing started to enter into popular consciousness, and the work of French
historian Michel Foucault and the Deleuze
and Guattari published their work on capitalism and schizophrenia, there
was some tendency to see schizophrenics as heroes in a struggle against the
oppressiveness of modern society. My
guess is that this is how Bodé saw himself, and so whether or not he was
diagnosed with a mental illness, he identified with the character of the
schizophrenic as he saw it, which is to say, a visionary and a rebel.
2002 Christian Perring
Toons: A collection of illustrated poetry by Vaughn Bode. (Slow to download images)
& MARK BODÉ
Animated Cartoon by Mark Bode
Mark Bode web site