Manuel Rodriguez (March 2, 1940 – November 28, 2012), better known as Spain or Spain Rodriguez, was an American underground
cartoonist A cartoonist (also comic strip creator, comic book artist, graphic novel artist, or comic book illustrator) is a visual artist who specializes in drawing cartoons (individual images) or comics (sequential images). Cartoonists include the artists w ...
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.


Early life

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 alongside cartoonist M. K. Brown, M.K. Brown.


In New York City, during the late 1960s, he became a contributor to the underground newspaper 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). One of his earliest strips, "Manning," featured a hard-boiled, over-the-top cop and was later cited as an influence on the British comic Judge Dredd. A co-founder (with Robert Crumb) of the United Cartoon Workers of America, Spain contributed to numerous underground comics in the 1960s–2000s, including ''San Francisco Comic Book'', ''Young Lust (comics), Young Lust'', ''Arcade (comics magazine), Arcade'', ''Bijou Funnies'', ''Weirdo (comics), Weirdo'', and Harvey Pekar's ''American Splendor''. Spain joined the ''Zap Comix'' collective in issue #4 (August 1969), and contributed stories to every issue from then until the comic's demise in 2005. In such classics as Spain's ''Mean Bitch Thrills'' (Print Mint, 1971), Spain's women are raunchy, explicitly sexual, and sometimes incorporated macho sadomasochism, sadomasochistic themes. Trashman's first appearance was as a full-page serial in the ''East Village Other''.Rodriguez, Spain. ''Trashman Lives!'' (Fanatagraphics Books, 1997), p. iv. After moving from New York City to San Francisco in 1970, Spain's ''Subvert Comics'' series (1970–1976) featured "three full length ''Trashman: Agent of the Sixth International'' stories."''Trashman Lives'', pg. v. Trashman later appeared in such publications as ''High Times'', ''Heavy Metal (magazine), Heavy Metal'', ''Weirdo (comics), Weirdo'', ''San Francisco (magazine), San Francisco'' magazine, ''Zap'' #11-13, and the Fantagraphics anthology ''Zero Zero (comics), Zero Zero'' #2. Spain drew ''Salon (website), Salon'''s continuing graphic story, ''The Dark Hotel'', which ran on the website in 1998–1999. His starkly forceful, naturalistic style perfectly matched Conan Doyle's eerie stories in ''Sherlock Holmes' Strangest Cases'' (Word Play Publications, 2001). Spain's later work included an illustrated biography of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, ''Che: A Graphic Biography'' (Verso Books, 2008). Published in several different languages, it was described by cartoonist Art Spiegelman as "brilliant and radical." His history of the California farmworker movement, ''Farmworker Comix'' was published posthumously in 2014 by the California Federation of Teachers.


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), 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."Eisner Awards Current Info"
. Comic-Con International: San Diego. Retrieved September 11, 2013.


* 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 (Keith Green (art dealer), 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 (publisher), 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. * ''Nightmare Alley (novel), Nightmare Alley'' by William Lindsay Gresham. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2003. * ''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. * ''Cruisin' with the Hound'' (Fantagraphics Books, 2012). * ''Farmworker Comix: a History of the Farm Labor Struggle in California'', text by Bill Morgan. (California Federation of Teachers, 2014). * ''Dires Irae: One Man Against the American Empire (A Graphic Story of 9/11)'', text by Wolcott Wheeler. Independently Published, 2003,2018.




* 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

Art for a Change website (Dec. 5, 2012). * Viglietta, Sal
"Road Vultures and Rumbles,"
''Artvoice Weekly Edition''vol. 8, #42 (Oct. 14, 2009).

External links

Cartoonist Tributes to Spain

Spain Rodriguez Fought the Good Fight
Comics Journal website

Burchfield Penney Art Center website
''A Salute to Spain''
by Ed Sanders
''Spain Rodriguez (1940-2012)''
by Paul Buhle {{DEFAULTSORT:Rodriguez, Spain 1940 births American cartoonists American comics artists American erotic artists Artists from Buffalo, New York Underground cartoonists 2012 deaths Deaths from cancer in California Artists from San Francisco American Splendor artists