Artist. Comedian. Visionary. Deviant. Guru. Icon.
Mention the name Vaughn Bode in some art circles and you can expect a range of responses. One of the founders of underground comics, Vaughn was a prolific creative and cultural force. The worlds he created are unique fantasy wonderlands where cute, approachable characters flirt with sex, humor, politics, war and religion.
The mythology surrounding their creator is no less extraordinary. With his long, curled locks and flowing robes, images of Vaughn suggest some kind of androgynous rock-god-turned-comic superstar. Add in a turbulent life lived on the fringes, and a mysterious, untimely death and you have all but cemented his legendary status.
If Vaughn’s legacy was simply one of sex, drugs and comics gone wild, his story likely would have ended at his death in 1975. The fact that his influence endured is a testament to the power of his creations. From graphic novels to illustrations, cartoons to animated films, Vaughn’s lasting impact is undeniable.
Most interesting may be where his influence fell outside the world of comics. In the years following his death, Vaughn’s bright, subversive characters and unique style of bubble lettering began appearing on the rusted trains and burned-out buildings of 1970s New York. It was here that a group of marginalized youth found a kindred spirit in Vaughn. As their newly created artform grew into one of the most influential movements of the last half-century, Vaughn’s posthumous designation as the patron saint of graffiti was born.
The Book of Vaughn is a feature documentary in development about a remarkable, enigmatic talent. With exclusive access to Vaughn’s art, archives, diaries and estate we will draw directly from his own words and work to tell his story. Along the way we will follow Vaughn’s son Mark, an acclaimed animator and muralist in his own right, who came to terms with the loss of his father by keeping his art and spirit alive in the present day. With interviews from world-renowned authors, artists, historians and friends our film will construct a complete picture of an extraordinary figure who, until now, has largely remained a mystery by the passing of time, perhaps because he was so well ahead of it.
“Vaughn was one of the lights of America. [He] really was a star.”