The Ride of the Valkyrie (LA Weekly, 2003)
Spain Rodriguez was born in Buffalo, New York and studied at the Silvermine Guild Art School in Norwalk, Connecticut. An avid biker, he began associating there with the Road Vultures, an outlaw gang. His experiences on the road with them have pervaded much of his comic work, which he started when he was working for alternative newspaper The East Village Other. In 1967, he was asked by the editor to do an all-comics tabloid, titled 'Zodiac Mindwarp', which was the forerunner of 'The Gothic Blimpworks'. In 1969, he moved to San Francisco, where he got to know many of the early underground comix artists, such as Robert Crumb, for whom he contributed work to his comic Zap. He also had his work published in comix like Insect Fear, Anarchy Comics, Arcade, San Francisco Comic Book and Tales of the Leather Nun. He was one of the founders of the United Cartoon Workers of America.
'Trashman' is probably Rodriguez' best known creation and one of the most enduring characters in the comics underground. His style could be called a "bold line" style of drawing, especially when employed on his 'Trashman' comics (about a middle American revolutionary). There is also an anthology on 'Trashman' in existence, which has been published by Fantagraphic Books. Rodriguez continued to work for magazines like Zap, LA Weekly, Twistgrip and Blab magazine. In 1994, the autobiographical 'My True Story' was published. In 2003, he made a graphic novel adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham's novel 'Nightmare Alley'. His illustrated biography of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, 'Che: A Graphic Biography', was published by Verso in 2008. Spain Rodriguez died in his San Francisco home in November 2012 after a long battle with cancer.