Sunday, 24 January 2010

364: Vaughn Bodé and Berni Wrightson –Purple Pictography

“Munchmo” in “Swank” November 1971

“Titus and Pubius” in “Swank” March 1972

by Vaughn Bodé and Berni Wrightson

A distinct part of the commix scene was devoted to sci fi, horror, and fantasy stories – Corben, Greg Irons, Jaxon, etc, although fantasy and weirdness is a large component of comix in general. The smaller men’s magazines like “Knight”, “Swank”, “Cavalier”, had already proven profitable markets for the New Wave of adult, literary science fiction of the late ‘60s. Vaughn Bode was probably Robert Crumb’s near-rival in terms of mainstream break-out potential, and “Cavalier” magazine and Crumb had had success with “Fritz the Cat”. So in the early ‘70s “Swank” ran “Purple Pictography” by Vaughn Bode for about a year. “Purple Pictography” were humorous sci fi/fantasy/horror stories as set-ups for sexual gags.

In “Munchmo”, an effete dragon with sissy expressive eyes, a misogynist distaste for women, perking up at the prospect of a flasher’s large cock has got to be a first of some kind.

In “Titus and Pubius” , the classical scenario as per usual portends sodomy of some sort (as seen here and here). Here Bodé alternates between unabashed brutish heterosexual and slightly perverse gay sexual appetites. In contrast to the hulking hetero, his homosexual is small with heavily lidded eyes, pouty red lips, and almost constantly clasped hands. As with American cliches of homosexuals, there’s the utterance of a “silly”, although the obsession with young boys is barely justifiable because of the Roman setting. Again, Bodé offers something new with pink speech bubbles for his gay character.

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