The binary comics of a non-binary artist : how Vaughn Bodé's gender structures his work

Abstract : At first glance, the graphically bizarre and thematically raunchy comics of the self-proclaimed comic book messiah have no link to his transidentity – and yet, the structure of his strips and Vaughn Bodé’s vision of gender and the world are actually inseparable. I want to show to what extent the deconstruction of comics in Bodé’s work mirrors the construction of his complex gender, how the exposure of his genderfluid identity permeates even the graphic layout of his pages and the course of his “concerts”. Regarding the content, everything in Bodé’s colorful fantasy world is contrasted in a binary way (for instance, horny women face impotent human-looking lizards), but he also splits the form in two. His characteristic “pictography”-style questions the traditional structure of comics by establishing gaps elsewhere than just between distinct panels: the latter are clearly split between speech bubbles and drawing, which leads to binary comics in which text and image work independently, yet necessarily interlock. It is only through this means that Bodé’s self-staging is possible: this dichotomy enables him to entirely remove written text from his strips and thus become an indispensable part of his art, since he becomes the only intermediary for the plot. Contrary to most of his printed comics, Bodé draws attention to his own questioning gender : he appears in leather clothes, wearing jewelry, and oftentimes tells his life story, among which finding himself through different religions and lovers. However, contrary to his comics, Bodé’s gender identity is non-binary and one can establish a link between his contrastful works and the world view he based on his spirituality : contraries are actually one, they converge, just as is the case with his identity. In spite of various psychiatrists‘ estimations, he is convinced of being a woman, yet interrupts his hormone therapy after a few weeks, because he did not feel like one after all. Afterwards, Bodé calls himself „omnisexual“ and eludes the typical men/women pattern, a fact around which he centers his coming-out in a comic. With Schizophrenia, he delivers his masterpiece which can be seen as the climax of his gender and comic experiences, shortly before another “sexual” experience, autoerotic asphyxiation, costed him his life.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01913695
Contributor : Romain Becker <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 2:49:44 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 7:48:19 PM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-01913695, version 1

Citation

Romain Becker. The binary comics of a non-binary artist : how Vaughn Bodé's gender structures his work. Spaces Between - Gender, Diversity and Identity in Comics, Gesellschaft für Comicforschung (ComFor); German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor), Sep 2018, Cologne, Germany. ⟨halshs-01913695⟩

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