Sunday, July 17, 2011

Comic Book Antiquity No. 2: Powermowerman by Vaughn Bode'

The next post in my sporadic series of comic book antiquities.  No. 1 was the first work of Jeffrey Catherine Jones. I've been meaning to post this piece for a while now.
Here's the never reprinted Powermowerman by Vaughn Bode!!

Folks, this thing was a bear to color correct. The cheap paper had yellowed substantially. It's not stapled, it's glued. That's why the spread for pages 9 and 10 looks a bit off. The binding keeps it from opening properly. Also, the "cover" is plain newsprint. And I don't think the printing was so great when the book first came out. But I've tried to correct to the original colors, based solely on my experience of Vaughn's work.
This was one of those comic book giveaways intended as educational. Every year at the County Fair when I was a kid, for example, they had stacks of The True Story of Smokey Bear comics. I'm not sure what the distribution model for this book was, but it sure is hard to find now!  My guess is that lawnmower and agricultural equipment stores gave it away as a promotional device, which would explain the space for a store sticker on the back cover.
I count myself lucky to have a copy, and luckier still to be able to share it.
Here's what Vaughn said about it in The Vaughn Bode Index:
Folks, don't ever think I didn't try like a son-of-a-bitch to get rich. Alas, every time I went for bucks, my heart started wilting, and soon my cartoons forced me back on the path to harmony.
I was given just two weeks to complete the entire book! I had to write, draw and color key all of this while I was an art student at Syracuse University....
PMM made me feel a little sleezy, greenish.
The tentative quality of the work betrays the fact that's it's early in Vaughn's career. Many of the angles used are either straight-on or profile, with some remarkable exceptions, like the aerial shot of the bird in the 6th panel of page 6. The text hints at some of Vaughn's later poetry and wit, with lines like "oh, he really knows how to hurt a cad". And the colors are pure Bode'!
Also, I can't help wondering if the design of The Scamp's vehicle was an influence on the villain's vehicle design here:

I always liked that critter that Obi-Wan was riding in this bit. I just call it a puppy, although it's obviously not.
Not sure what I'll do next in this comic series, hence the term sporadic. I'm trying to reserve the series for obscure works unlikely to be reprinted, and the next one hasn't jumped out at me yet. But it will, and I will.
Until then: enjoy.


  1. I loved that critter too, I used to know the name of it, back when the film came out, and I was so disappointed that there wasn't an action figure.

    Thanks so much for posting this early work of Vaughn's. I've never seen it. I have always loved the way he drew "sound effects" in his panels. They were very expressive.

  2. Diana, thank you SO MUCH for not only posting this, but also color balancing the artwork as well - you're a gem!! Whilst this early piece is very commercial in nature and doesn't feature any of his classic characters, it still represents all the things we love about Vaughn's work and brand of humor!