Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vaughn Bode' ~ 1941-1975


Russ said...

It's a wonder that there is yet to be a big monograph on Bode; he did so much in so many different media. I'm amazed that something as twisted as Sunpot ran in a mainstream SF digest, and that Dell published the Cartoon Concert paperback. Fantagraphics has done books on Rand Holmes, Clay Wilson and Rory Hayes. Maybe they'll get around to Bode soon.

Bwanasonic said...

Fantastic retrospective of Bodé's work!


Dan Steffan said...

I got to know Vaughn in 1970, while he was doing Sunpot. The first time I met him he told me that he had just killed off everybody in the strip because he'd had a long feud with the Associate Editor of GALAXY, Judy-Lynn Benjamin (later Del Rey). She hated his work.

The illustration assignments he did for those mags a few years earlier were killed by this editor, who did all she could to badmouth him -- because she didn't like his cartoony style. He still had at least four unpublished covers at the time, which she told him would never see the light of day. It was personal and he took it that way.

About a year later, though, his covers started to appear on the mags again -- after which the original art was sold to a fan who wrote them a letter, for $50 per cover.

The publication of the covers made Vaughn think that Pohl had changed his mind about using his work. So at the 1969 worldcon in St. Louis, Vaughn and Jeff Jones and Larry Todd, had a large exhibit of original art on display and Vaughn hoped that seeing it all would get Fred Pohl to rehire him.

But what Bode didn't know was that the mags had been sold to a new publisher and they had started using his unpublished covers because they were sitting on the shelf and they wanted to clean out the back inventory before passing the mag on to the new publishers. He was very disappointed. Bode never saw any of the art again, either.

Around the same time, Vaughn's friend Ted White, then editor of AMAZING and FANTASTIC, asked him to draw a comic strip for AMAZING, because he wanted to start running underground-style comics in his prozine. When the new publisher of GALAXY and IF heard about the deal with Ted, he offered Vaughn a bigger payday and Bode, with Ted's consent, switched to GALAXY for the better money.

Bode felt bad about taking the strip away from White's magazine and offered him four Bode/Todd collaboration covers for publication as a sorry-about-that gesture.

The covers came out brilliantly and in the end it was a better deal for White, but Vaughn quickly came to regret ever having anything to do with Judy-Lynn again -- she, unfortunately, had stayed with the mag when it was sold and she once again took up her campaign against him.

Sunpot was censored by her and one chapter had its pages printed out of order -- supposedly on Judy-Lynn's orders. As a result, Vaughn killed off all the characters and ended the strip. GALAXY did not print the final chapter and it wasn't until Al Schuster printed the complete collection that the strip appeared as he intended it.

The experience of it all made him vow never to work in the sf field again -- which it turned out he didn't need to do because by then he'd hooked up with CAVALIER and the rest is, as they say, history.

Ted, on the other hand, got four very strong covers and had stories written around them, too.

Personally, I loved his interior art for those mags and that's what turned me onto his work and made me track him down and befriend him. He was a brilliant guy who left us waaaay too soon.