Mark Bode is a multitalented artist and storyteller working in a plethora of mediums. He is perhaps best known for continuing his father Vaughn Bode’s (a master of underground comix) work with the graphic novel series Cobalt 60 and the critically acclaimed Cheech Wizard: The Lizard of Oz. Recently Mark Bode contributed a story to Belly Dance Comics, an anthology, which can be purchased on www.demicomix.com featuring a cover by Steve Crompton (Creator of Demi the Demoness).
1. Besides Richard Corben’s art, your style, the Bode style, may be the most recognizable in comics today. For those that don’t know, can you describe what exactly the Bode style entails?
Bode style was originally derived from Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” and V.T. Hamlin’s, Alley Oop and, of course, Disney. The style is most recognizable from the eye popping outlines which make the characters pop out of the page.
2. Your father’s art has been widely adopted by the world of graffiti artists. Why do you feel his work transcends the generational gap?
The outlines are very visible from a distance, which lends itself to that medium, also the simplicity of the design of the characters make them easy to paint with a can.
3. You’ve mentioned, on several occasions, that your father always imagined his characters as if they were in the real world, and treated them as such. He also imparted this unto you: What is your fondest memory of him “teaching” you about Cheech?
We would go for walks and wait for Cheech to show up. He never did, but my dad would insist that he was coming any minute. When he showed his Cheech comics to me, he said this was what Cheech was doing the other day. Very unique form of brain washing.
4. Ralph Bakshi’s 1977 film, “Wizards,” takes its look from the Bode style. To this day, have you received any royalties from the film? If not, why?
No. Bakshi was heavily influenced but he changed the characters so we wouldn’t sue him. Cobalt became Necron99, Cheech Wizard became Avitar and the broads well… I need not go on about his “influence.” It’s obvious to say the least.
5. Your graphic novel series, “Cobalt 60,” first published in Epic Illustrated, is set to become a live action film. What do you hope to see in this picture?
I love “Road Warrior” and the humor of “The Army of Darkness.” If Zack Snyder can capture the flavor of those two movies and take it to a new level, it will be a natural hit. You just can’t go wrong with the premise and the awesome characters my dad and I set forth.
6. Many kids might not have been as enthusiastic as you, in terms of keeping the legacy of their parent(s) alive. What drives you to continue to make sure your father’s work does not fall into obscurity?
To me, the characters are friends of mine. When my dad passed, they did not need to pass with him. I keep Vaughn alive when I recreate stories with his characters. If you could revive a loved one from the grave, wouldn’t you? It’s that simple, it has nothing to with ego or money, just a love for the work.
7. You’ve worked in all sorts of mediums, everything from comics to spray can mural painting. Do you have a favorite medium in which create?
Each medium has a payoff for me. Comics are tedious and time consuming but, when it’s done, you can share those places in your head with the masses. Tattooing is a give—give, and making people happy with quality work is priceless. Spray can murals are pure joy as the size is so exciting and they are enjoyed by the public, so it is a billboard for your art. I love doing big stuff, the bigger the better.
8. The apparel and shoes you designed for Puma have become extremely popular, so much so that it is hard to get one’s hands on them. Will you be doing anymore work for them, or will there be a reissue of said items?
I am about at the end of my license with Puma, the Lizard hightops and Lizard hoodie come out in the summer of 2009. I hope to drop them in Tokyo at that time. I worked very hard on the hoodie to make it perfect. The hood is the head of the lizard and it has spray can and marker pockets on the inside..very cool. People will bug big time.
9. Besides your work in independent comics, the art you did on several issues of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series has become legendary in its own right. Do you have a fondness for those characters, and keep up with them?
To me, it’s a done deal. I had fun with a capital “F,” working with my buddies, Kevin Eastman and Eric Talbot, but I can only give so much to something as non-Bode as “TMNT.” We made crazy money on those issues. If I was paid like that again, I would do it in a heart-beat. A couple of years in a row, I made six figures, which is nice when you love what you are working on and you’re havin’ fun.
10. What can you say about any major upcoming projects you might be working on? Do you have plans to publish more of your father’s work?
I have revived Cobalt 60 for another series of books, so, in case the movie does well, we will have sequel material. Dark Horse has showed interest in publishing the complete Cobalt 60 and putting out the new material as well. Cobalt 60’s son grows up and is a greedy, power hungry, prince. He kills his own mother and hunts for Cobalt, so that he can be king outright. They end up battling it out in the Coliseum, in front of thousands—ala Gladiator. Also, I have done work on Chaboocheck, as I feel that’s another potential movie property of my father’s creation. It’s a very cool world, flying creatures that are actual living fortresses pitted against World War II-looking planes—kind of a Catch 22 humorous war, sci-fi deal. There is talk of a Vaughn Bode Coffee Table Book, but it’s just talk at the moment.
For more information on Mark Bode please visit www.markbode.com