Check out this epic slideshow of Bode characters painted by different artists all over the World, including: Rio, Buenos Aires, London, Essex, New York, San Francisco, Spain, Germany, Australia and many other places!
My father sought enlightenment from gurus that came to the NYC area in the late 1960s. One young guru (Maji) picked him out of a crowd, touched his forehead and said “The answer is within you.” My father saw a warm light above a city when he closed his eyes and it changed him. He sought the light any way he could from then on. He didn’t have the patience to meditate in the mountains for weeks so he found a short cut (auto-erotic asphyxiation). This propelled him out of his body each time falling deeper and deeper into the light. He did this four times over a four year period. Each time he came back and came to he would cry like a baby to return, as he felt he found a true home, which he called “God Country”. He would tell me with a passion “It’s where we come from and it’s where we are going, never fear it Mark; death is glorious.” His auto-erotic asphyxiation didn’t affect me growing up – I knew why he was doing it and I knew where he wanted to go.
Bode in Brussels
He considered himself blessed to be able to go there and return to talk about it. The 5th time he did it I was staying with him he came out and said “No phone calls Mark, I’m doing my God thing today.” I was stunned by his glowing appearance and said “Dad you look beautiful.” He grinned and said “You see Mark, I really am a high priest”. He walked into his room and shut the door. Some necklaces got stuck in the harness and he never returned from his visit with God. He became one with the Universe once again.
His death was an accident and although I was mad about him leaving me I had a strong base which he put me on. I carried on and focused on taking care of my mother and making sure she did the right things so I wouldn’t lose her too. I never would try such a thing – it sounds like an alien behavior to choke oneself until you pass out.
After his death I was confused and wanted to be like him so much but I didn’t fully understand the need for cross dressing and all the bondage stuff. I guess it worked. I got the calm from his storm. I was very grounded and aware of my own sexuality without all the strange stuff my dad had engrained in his libido.
After Vaughn Passed Away
By the time I was 18 I was inking and coloring his unfinished strips for Marvel’s Epic magazine. Within a year after that I was creating new stories for Epic illustrated with the help of my father’s apprentice and collaborator Larry Todd who wrote stories for me. I would do the art and make up additional characters as we went like “Cobalt 60.” After that was “Miami Mice,” a hit comic I did in 1986 which was a bestselling black and white comic (it sold 180,000 comics in a year).
Bode in Sydney
Some fans ask “do you feel you live in a shadow?” and I answer “If you could bring someone back from the dead who you loved dearly, would you do it?” I do that when I work with my father’s work - that part of him doesn’t need to be dead. In fact, I feel that my father is immortal and I’m mortal. That’s a perfect working team - he gets to be dead and legendary and I carry the work to new places and new heights! So living in a shadow? No. If there’s any shadow then we’re both are in each other’s in the best way.
People want to associate me with Dad and Dad with me. People want to see Bode doing Bode, you know? It’s always positive when I show the style strong and clear. I have no problems with it; I’m my father’s biggest fan! It’s a positive path to follow a family tradition end of story.
A huge Cheech Wizard in Rio
My father knew he would hit bigger markets then comics and I knew it too so I’m not surprised how people have reacted to it. If it didn’t hold magic it would have faded into obscurity. I take credit for holding the mast high and educating people on how this stuff is copy-written material. It’s cool to do one-offs, murals and trains but if you want to make money from Bode characters then you have to contact me! I have a feeling long after I’m gone Cheech and the gang will still be kicking it in the streets around the globe.
I first noticed the influence of my father’s characters in NYC; I was at the School of Visual Arts in 1982, waiting for a train on 23rd street, and I saw a whole top-to-bottom train car with Deadbone Mountain and Bode characters flash by me (it was either Kel and/or his brother Mare 139). I moved back to San Francisco a year later and saw more Bode stuff in the streets – that’s when I realized it was spreading and it wasn’t just one artist putting up my father’s characters. Now nearly 30 years later I have pieces all over the World (but mostly in the San Fran Bay Area where I live).
Bode in Granada, Spain
Personally, my pieces very rarely get tagged – there’s a respect and reverence for the Bode name. I love doing spraycan art more than any other medium I’ve experienced. Although I love doing comics it’s a long a tedious process; tattooing is great but it’s a public service in the end. Graffiti is quick, big and immediate, plus the public can appreciate you as you do it. It’s addictive and time flies by when I’m painting. For real I’ve had police thank me as they roll by but that’s San Fran for you!
Next up for me is a solo exhibition at the Articks Gallery in Amsterdam (July 20th) with many of my paintings and subway maps, etc. Just before the show Articks is organizing a Bode Tribute to my father in the streets. Then in August I have a two-man show in San Fran at The 1AM Gallery with Metal Man Ed who builds life-size subway trains out of metal. We’re doing a 3D show with stuff that pops off the wall! Cobalt 60 is being optioned for an animated series for Adult Swim and a live action movie with Zack Snyder at the helm as director, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed the Bode magic will continue to grow!
Bode in Luneburg, Germany