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Spain Rodriguez 1940-2012

Very sad news today: Manuel “Spain” Rodriguez passed away at 7:00 this morning from cancer-related causes. He was 72 years old.

Spain was one of our all-time great cartoonists, and one who was still making first-rate work. Earlier this year he was the subject of a retrospective exhibition  at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in his hometown of Buffalo. His most recent book, Cruisin’ with the Hound, contained some of his very best work and was released just 7 months ago and reviewed on this site by Jeet Heer.

We will have ongoing coverage of Spain’s work, but in the meantime here’s his two-part interview with Gary Groth, and here’s Patrick Rosenkranz’s affectionate profile from earlier this year.

He’ll be sorely missed. Our condolences to his friends and family.


7 Responses to Spain Rodriguez 1940-2012

  1. Colin Upton says:

    Tragic news, one of the best.

  2. Allen Smith says:

    Agree that he was one of our great cartoonists. He established himself by being excellent in underground comics, a venue that might not have brought as much financial success as being a mainstream, “commercial” comics artist would have brought him, but he had the chops of a professional artist while retaining that outsider quality that marked him as an underground cartoonist. He will be missed very much.

  3. R. Fiore says:

    One can only hope for a biker funeral cortege through Haight-Ashbury, ending in a funeral pyre in the Viking manner.

  4. Jeffrey Goodman says:

    Wow! Just saw him a few weeks ago at a Philip K. Dick festival at SFSU, and while he looked a litter thinner than I’d ever seen him he certainly didn’t look sick. What a tragedy and a complete surprise. He was one of the titans and will be missed. A sad day to be sure!

    • William Sarill says:

      Hi Jeff. As you know, I was a participant at the bio panel at the Philip K. Dick festival. I might have mentioned during my talk that I introduced Spain to Phil Dick in 1980; we drove up to Santa Ana from San Diego right after Comic-Con that year. Spain brought with him a copy of the first issue ofAnarchy Comics with his story about Durruti, the anarchist hero of the Spanish Civil War. Phil was entranced because Durruti had been a hero of his too when he was growing up, and he and Spain bonded easily.

      Spain attended part of the first day of the Dick Fest but had to leave because of spinal pain from his cancer. After the Fest, we got together for an afternoon. He shared with me anarchist songs about Durruti and the war and also showed me his private sketchbook. Some of his work is simply astonishing. I don’t think many people realize how skilled a draftsman he could be. I was particularly struck by a detailed drawing of the Trevi Fountain from his hotel room when he visited Rome in 2009. Beautiful stuff. Downstairs was a city-scape mural covering one entire wall that he was still adding to – a perpetual work in progress that was even more detailed than the last time I’d seen it. He also showed me the art he was working on currently, including new single-page stories for the Yiddish series he’d started with Joel Schechter and the beginnings of a comic book about the hotel workers’ union, Local 2. He had at least 3 projects going on at the same time and I had the sense that it was urgent for him to finish them soon. I don’t know yet if the comic for Local 2 got finished before his death.

      Yes, he was painfully thin when I saw him. He seemed to be gently accepting his fate. I didn’t think he’d be around that long, but of course it was a shock when I finally got the news. RIP, man.

  5. Briany Najar says:

    Gutted.
    Just read Cruisin’ yesterday.
    Dude was heavy.
    Insightful, too.
    A humanist with guts.
    Condolences to all, especially his family.

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