March 2, 1940
Buffalo, New York
|Died||November 28, 2012
|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. Strongly influenced by 1950s EC Comics illustrator Wally Wood, Spain pushed Wood's sharp, crisp black shadows and hard-edged black outlines into a more simplified, stylized direction. His work also extended the eroticism of Wood's female characters.
Manuel Rodriguez was born March 2, 1940, 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. Rodriguez studied at the Silvermine Guild Art School in New Canaan, 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). He covered the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago as a reporter for the East Village Other, adventures which were chronicled in My True Story (Fantagraphics Books, 1994).
A co-founder (with Robert Crumb) of the United Cartoon Workers of America, he contributed to numerous underground comics in the 1960s–2000s, including Zap Comix, San Francisco Comic Book, Young Lust, Arcade, Bijou Funnies, Weirdo, and Harvey Pekar's American Splendor. He also drew Salon's continuing graphic story, The Dark Hotel, which ran on the website in 1998–1999.
Spain's starkly forceful, naturalistic style perfectly matched Conan Doyle's eerie stories in Sherlock Holmes' Strangest Cases (Word Play Publications, 2001). In such classics as Mean Bitch Thrills (Print Mint, 1971), Spain’s women are raunchy, explicitly sexual, and sometimes incorporated macho sadomasochistic themes.
Spain's later work included an illustrated biography of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Che: A Graphic Biography (Verso, 2008). Published in several different languages, it was described by comics artist Art Spiegelman as "brilliant and radical."
Rodriguez died at his home in San Francisco on November 28, 2012, after battling cancer for six years.
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 posthumously 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.
- 1988 (June 27–August 10) Galería Esquina de la Libertad (San Francisco) — "Spain : a View from the Bottom: Posters, Comic Strips, Caricatures and More"
- 2012 (September 14, 2012–January 13, 2013) Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College (Buffalo, NY) — "Spain: Rock, Roll, Rumbles, Rebels & Revolution"
- Subvert Comics #1–2 (Rip Off Press, 1970–1972); #3 (Saving Grace, 1976)
- Mean Bitch Thrills (Print Mint, Sept. 1971)
- Food Price Blackmail: Who's Behind the High Cost of Eating, text by Margaret Lobenstein & John Schommer. United Front Press, 1973.
- Trashman Lives!: The Collected Stories from 1968 to 1985 (Fantagraphics, 1989).
- 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.
- Alien Apocalypse 2006 (with Kathy Glass and Harold S. Robbins). Berkeley: Frog Ltd., 2000.
- Sherlock Holmes' Strangest Cases by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. San Francisco: Word Play Publications, 2001.
- Spain's Zodiac Mindwarp, with S. Clay Wilson (Hippy Comix, 2002)
- 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.
- Devil Dog: the Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America, text by David Talbot. Simon & Schuster, 2010.
- Weber, Bruce. "Spain Rodriguez, Artist of Underground Comics, Dies at 72," New York Times (DEC. 2, 2012).
- In the 1982 comic book Commies From Mars #4, Spain published an illustration copying Wood's style and sc-ifi subject matter with the words "In Memory of our beloved mentor Wallace Wood."
- "Manuel Rodriguez." The Writers Directory. Detroit: St. James Press, 2012. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.
- ROSENKRANZ, PATRICK. "Span Rodriguez Fought the Good Fight," The Comics Journal (NOV 29, 2012).
- Booker, M. Keith, editor. Comics through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas (ABC-CLIO, 2014), p. 838.
- Wetham, Justin. "About Spain," Dies Irae (2006).
- Bennett, Jessica. "Road Vultures back in town for Comicon", The Spectrum, October 21 2009.
- Fagan, Kevin (November 28, 2012). "Spain Rodriguez: Zap Comix artist dies". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Eisner Awards Current Info". Comic-Con International: San Diego. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
- Ascher, Jon. "Sifting Through the Trash: Spain and Trashman," JonAscher.com (1998).
- Hodler, Tim. "Spain Rodriguez: Tributes," The Comics Journal (NOV 29, 2012).
- Talbot, David. "Death of an American original: Cartoonist Spain Rodriguez subverted the youth of America," Salon (DEC. 1, 2012).
- Vallen, Mark. "Trashman Lives!" Art for a Change website (Dec. 5, 2012).
- Viglietta, Sal. "Road Vultures and Rumbles," Artvoice Weekly Editionvol. 8, #42 (Oct. 14, 2009).
- Spain Rodriguez at the Internet Movie Database
- Cartoonist Tributes to Spain
- Spain Rodriguez Fought the Good Fight, Comics Journal website
- Spain bio, Lambiek's Comiclopedia
- New York Times obituary
- "SPAIN: ROCK, ROLL, RUMBLES, REBELS, & REVOLUTION" exhibition, Burchfield Penney Art Center website
- A Salute to Spain by Ed Sanders