CHEECH WIZARDMedium: Comic books
Published by: Syracuse University
First Appeared: 1967
Creator: Vaughn Bodé
Please contribute to its necessary financial support.
Amazon.com or PayPal
Cheech Wizard was among the earliest creations of Vaughn Bodé; also among his best remembered. The character was created September 27, 1957, but wasn't seen in print for ten years. He first appeared
in a 16-page pamphlet published in 1967 by Syracuse University's Office of Student Publications, but before Bodé's untimely death, Cheech Wizard was turning up regularly in slick, nationally-distributed magazines.
Unlike Bill Griffith's Zippy the Pinhead, Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and a majority other denizens of underground comix, Bodé's characters mostly occupied a long-ago, far-away fantasy land full of talking lizards, where people spoke in a dialect found nowhere else. The realm of Cheech Wizard was a gentler place than that of the same artist's Junkwaffel or Deadbone (no relation), but all were part of the same landscape.
Cheech Wizard had little to say about the concerns of the generation among which the undergrounds flourished. His main concern was his own importance in the world, and his secondary concern was sex. But in that, to some extent at least, he did manage to represent his constituency in his own way. It's no secret that Ralph Bakshi, the animation producer/director responsible for work ranging from Fritz the Cat (1972) to the late 1980s incarnation of Mighty Mouse, was strongly influenced by Bodé's work when he produced his 1977 animated feature, Wizards.
Cheech Wizard appeared here and there in underground comix until 1971, when National Lampoon added him to its regular comics lineup. Bodé produced a page a month for that venue until, in 1975, at age 34, he died in a tragic accident.
Most of Bodé's work remains available in reprint form. But his was a unique artistic voice, and it's impossible to imagine his characters remaining true in anyone else's hands. So those reprints are now all that remains of Cheech Wizard.