Skip to content

Born 1940 in Buffalo, NY; died 2012 in San Francisco, CA.

Spain Rodriguez, called the “socialist soul” of the 1960s underground comics movement, combined leftist politics, outlaw biker adventure, and science fiction in dynamically drawn stories. He was a natural yarn spinner with an entertainer’s flair for dramatic staging, noir cityscapes, and striking figures. Raised in Buffalo, where he became a member of the Road Vultures Motorcycle Club, he attended an art trade school for a few years before working a factory job for the first part of the 1960s, which provided him with comradery and decades of material for his comics. Rodriguez moved to New York’s East Village in the mid-1960s and began a run of publishing that was interrupted only by his passing. He became a staff cartoonist for the most celebrated of underground newspapers, the East Village Other, appearing alongside the likes of Ed Sanders and Allen Ginsberg. Rodriguez published one of the very first underground graphic novels, Zodiac Mindwarp, and introduced the world to Trashman, Agent of the Sixth International, a kind of urban Marxist James Bond.

In 1969, the artist moved to San Francisco, where he was invited to join Zap Comix by Robert Crumb, who remembers: “I first met Spain in New York in the fall of 1968. Spain had left Buffalo for good, left the world of outlaw bikers behind and embraced the East Village hippie scene, though there was a lot about the hippies that Spain didn’t like. ‘I ain’t no hippie,’ he used to say. His allegiance to radical left-wing politics and his proletarian class identity were stronger and clearer than most of the youths in the hippie subculture, the ‘counter-culture,’ as it was called. His politics were driven by genuine, authentic class anger, class hatred. I liked that about him. It was always clarifying, bracing, to discuss politics, social and cultural issues with him. Plus, he had a sharp sense of humor which leavened that anger.” Rodriguez went on to either found or contribute to many of the most important underground comics, including his own Subvert Comics, Insect Fear Comics, and the seminal anthologies Arcade and Weirdo.

In the ensuing decades he published widely acclaimed memoirs, graphic non-fiction, erotic thrillers, and the ever-evolving story of Trashman. His old friend and editor Art Spiegelman recalls: “I can’t imagine two more different artists than Spain and James Joyce, but I remembered something that Richard Ellmann wrote about Joyce: ‘The function of literature, as Joyce and his hero Stephen Dedalus both define it with unaccustomed fervor, is the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man, suffering and rollicking. We can shed what he called ‘laughtears’ as his writings confront us with this spectacle.’ That’s how I see the twin pillars of Spain’s life and art — suffering and rollicking, full of ‘laughtears.”

Spain Rodriguez is the subject of the documentary Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez, directed by his wife, the Emmy nominated filmmaker Susan Stern, now playing film festivals internationally. He was the subject of a 2012 retrospective at Buffalo State College’s Burchfield Penney Art Center, Spain: Rock Roll Rumbles Rebels & Revolution. His books include Trashman Lives!, My True Story, Cruisin’ with the Hound, She Comics, and Che: A Graphic Biography. His life and work are the subject of a planned five-volume set of books edited by Patrick Rosenkranz, and published by Fantagraphics, three of which have been released thus far: Street Fighting Men, Warrior Women, and My Life & Times.

Spain Rodriguez Andrew Edlin Gallery Representation Announcment PDF

Hard-Ass Friday Nite: The Art of Spain Rodriguez, curated by Dan Nadel, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY

Spain: Rock, Roll, Rumbles, Rebels & Revolution, curated by Anthony Bannon, Don Metz and Edmund Cardoni, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY

Rebel in Ink: The Art of Spain Rodriguez, Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
Road Vultures and Rumbles: A Career Retrospective of Buffalo’s Spain Rodriguez, The Poetry Collection, State University of New York at Buffalo, NY

Spain: A View from the Bottom: Posters, Comic Strips, Caricatures and More, Galería Esquina de la Libertad, La Raza Silkscreen Center, San Francisco, CA

Spain Rodriguez Drawings and Paintings, Peace Eye Gallery, New York, NY


Field Trip: Psychedelic Solution, curated by Fred Tomaselli, Outsider Art Fair, New York, NY
The Underground is Always Outside, curated by Aline Kominsky-Crumb & Dan Nadel, Outsider Art Fair, Paris, FR

Somos/Funky, Juan R. Fuentes Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Blowing Minds: The East Village Other, the Rise of Underground Comix, and the Alternative Press, 1965-1972, Arthur L. Carter Journalism, New York University, New York, NY

Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-1974, curated by Gary Panter, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY

BLAB!: A Retrospective, curated by Bill North, Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KA

Zap Comix Artists, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

The Chicano Codices - Encountering Art of the Americas, curated by Marcos Sanchez-Tranquilino, The Mexican Museum, San Francisco, CA

Zap Comix Artists, Psychedelic Solution Gallery, New York, NY

COMIX, curated by Patricia Stewart, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

Human Concern/Personal Torment - The Grotesque in American Art, curated by Robert Doty, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
The Phonus Balonus Show, The Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Comic Museum, curated by Kim Deitch, 355 E 9th Street (rented storefront), New York, NY

The de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
New York University, New York, NY
The Whitney Museum, New York, NY

Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez, directed by Susan Stern

Will Eisner Hall of Fame

My Life & Times: Spain Vol. 3, Fantagraphics, edited by Patrick Rosenkranz

Warrior Women: Spain Vol. 2, Fantagraphics, edited by Patrick Rosenkranz

Street Fighting Men: Spain Vol. 1, Fantagraphics, edited by Patrick Rosenkranz

Farmworker Comix: A History of the Farm Labor Struggle in California, text by Bill Morgan, California Federation of Teachers
Zap Comix #16, Fantagraphics

Cruisin’ With The Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté, Fantagraphics

Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-1974, Andrew Edlin Gallery
War: The Human Cost, Paper Tiger Comix

Devil Dog: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Saved America, text by David Talbot, Simon & Schuster

Che: A Graphic Biography, edited by Paul Buhle, Verso

Nightmare Alley, text by William Lindsay Gresham, Fantagraphics
! Women Art Revolution, text by Lynn Hersham Leeson and Alexandra Chowaniec, Women Art Revolution LLC
Dires Irae: One Man Against the American Empire: A Graphic Story of 9/11, text by Wolcott Wheeler, Independently Published

Sherlock Holmes’ Strangest Cases, text by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Word Play Publications

Alien Apocalypse 2006, with Kathy Glass and Harold S. Robbins, Frog Ltd.

Boots, text by Harry Kamper, Precipice

My True Story, Fantagraphics

She: Anthology of Big Bitch, Last Gasp

Trashman Lives!: The Collected Stories from 1968 to 1985, Fantagraphics

Zap Comix #10-15, Last Gasp

Subvert Comics #3, Saving Grace

Food Price Blackmail: Who's Behind the High Cost of Eating, text by Margaret Lobenstein & John Schommer, United Front Press

Mean Bitch Thrills, Print Mint

Subvert Comics #1-2, Rip Off Press

Zap Comix #4-9, Print Mint

Trashman Vol. 1 No.1, Fat City & Red Mountain Tribe

Zodiac Mindwarp, East Village Other

Back To Top