Review: The Man

The Man (2nd printing) cover
Cover by Vaughn Bodé

The Man
Published and © by Print Mint, 1972

Title: “The Man”
Synopsis: A primitive man searches for food – and meaning – with the help of his good friend, Stick.

Writer: Vaughn Bodé
Artist: Bodé

Review: This deceptively simple tale from underground legend Vaughn Bodé is an early graphic-storytelling masterpiece. Originally published as a serial strip in the Syracuse Daily Orange from 1965 to ’66, this collected edition should be considered as one of the earlier – and best – American graphic novels. Using an almost childlike tone,  Bodé utilizes expressive cartooning and clever dialogue to ponder the deeper meaning of the human experience. It’s a quick, simple read that stays with you, revealing a rich complexity over time. Again, this one is a small masterpiece that should be on all comic fans’ required-reading list.

Grade: A+

Second opinion: “Quite possibly the first existential comic. … Recommended.” – The Slings & Arrows Comics Guide (second edition)

Cool factor: A simple underground points the way to the graphic-novel future.
Not-so-cool factor: Poor Erg.

The Man (1st printing) cover
The original, limited printing of The Man, published in 1967 by the Office of Student Publications for Syracuse University.

Collector’s note: According to “Schizophrenia,” a Vaughn Bodé collection, the first edition The Man was published in 1967 by the Office of Student Publications for Syracuse University and credited to “Von.” According to Fogel’s Underground Comix Price Guide (first edition), that first edition had a 40¢ cover price. Second (50¢ cover) and third (75¢ cover) printings from Print Mint received wider distribution.

Character quotable: “Stick … I think … I think the little holes in the dark are not empty … they are … full … of … sticks … they are … . … I am stupid.” – The Man, ancient stargazer

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Sequential Reaction (Vol. 1) on Feb. 5, 2016.

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