Spain Rodriguez

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Spain Rodriguez
Born Manuel Rodriguez
(1940-03-02)March 2, 1940
Buffalo, New York
Died November 28, 2012(2012-11-28) (aged 72)
San Francisco
Nationality American
Area(s) Artist
Pseudonym(s) Algernon Backwash
Notable works
Awards 2013 Will Eisner Hall of Fame Award

Manuel Rodriguez (March 2, 1940 – November 28, 2012), better known as Spain or Spain Rodriguez, was an American underground cartoonist who created the character Trashman. His experiences on the road with the motorcycle club, the Road Vultures M.C., provided inspiration for his work, as did his left-wing politics.

Early life[edit]

Manuel Rodriguez was born March 2, 1940[1] in Buffalo, New York. He picked up the nickname Spain as a child, when he heard some kids in the neighborhood bragging about their Irish ancestry, and he defiantly claimed Spain was just as good as Ireland.[2] Rodriguez studied at the Silvermine Guild Art School in New Caanan, Connecticut. In New York City, during the late 1960s, he became a contributor to the East Village Other, which published his own comics tabloid, Zodiac Mindwarp (1968).

A founder of the United Cartoon Workers of America, he contributed to numerous underground comics and also drew Salon's continuing graphic story, The Dark Hotel.

Strongly influenced by 1950s EC comic book illustrator Wally Wood,[3] Spain pushed Wood's sharp, crisp black shadows and hard-edged black outlines into a more simplified, stylized direction. Examples of his starkly forceful style perfectly match Conan Doyle's eerie stories in Sherlock Holmes' Strangest Cases. His work also extended the eroticism of Wood's female characters. In such classics as Mean Bitch Thrills, Spain’s ladies were raunchy, explicitly sexual and sometimes incorporated macho sadomasochistic themes.[4]

His more recent work is an illustrated biography of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Che: A Graphic Biography (2009). Published in several different languages, it was described by comics artist Art Spiegelman as "brilliant and radical."[5]


In July 2013, during the San Diego Comic-Con, Rodriguez was one of six inductees into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. The award was presented by Mad magazine cartoonist and Groo the Wanderer creator Sergio Aragonés. The other inductees were Lee Falk, Al Jaffee, Mort Meskin, Joe Sinnott, and Trina Robbins.[6]


Rodriguez died at his home in San Francisco on November 28, 2012, after battling cancer for six years.[7]


  • She: Anthology of Big Bitch (with Susie Bright). San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1993.
  • My True Story. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 1994.
  • Nothing in This Book Is True, But It's Exactly How Things Are, text by Bob Frissell. Berkeley: Frog Ltd., 1994.
  • Sherlock Holmes' Strangest Cases by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. San Francisco: Word Play Publications, 2001.
  • Alien Apocalypse 2006 (with Kathy Glass and Harold S. Robbins). Berkeley: Frog Ltd., 2000.
  • Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2003. ISBN 1-56097-511-3
  • You Are a Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience, text by Bob Frissell. Berkeley: Frog Ltd., 2003.
  • Che: A Graphic Biography, edited by Paul Buhle. London/New York: Verso, 2008.


  1. ^ "Manuel Rodriguez." The Writers Directory. Detroit: St. James Press, 2012. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.
  2. ^
  3. ^ In the 1982 comic book Commies From Mars #4, Spain published an illustration copying Wood's style and scifi subject matter with the words "In Memory of our beloved mentor Wallace Wood."
  4. ^ Short discussion of Wood's influence on Spain
  5. ^ Bennett, Jessica. "Road Vultures back in town for Comicon", The Spectrum, October 21 2009.
  6. ^ "Eisner Awards Current Info". Comic-Con International: San Diego. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  7. ^ Fagan, Kevin (November 28, 2012). "Spain Rodriguez: Zap Comix artist dies". San Francisco Chronicle.

External links[edit]