I am very sad to report that an email has been sent by Ron Turner:
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing this morning of Spain Rodriguez. He passed at home with his daughter and wife at his bedside at about 7 this morning. He had been fighting cancer for a long time. He was a wonderful father, husband, and friend. His art challenged, changed and enlightened and entertained us for over five decades. His passing coincided with the penumbra eclipse of the moon, like Spain’s shadow from the outer edge of the art world’s face. Services are pending, please give the family some time.
A pillar of the early underground community, Rodriguez, 72, was a model of the career cartoonist, transgressive and socially aware in his early work; measured and wise in his older work. His most recent book was CRUISIN’ WITH THE HOUND, an autobiographical look back at youthful hijinks which he talked about with the Comics Journal.
“I’m probably more introspective now because I’m an old fella,” he allows. “Nobody knows what’s going on in your head. In a lot of ways that’s what literature and comics are about. The thing about comics is it’s an excellent vehicle to report what’s going on in your head. So that’s what I’m doing.”
Yu can read more about his early days with the ground-breaking alternative paper the East Village Other here. His most famed creation was Trashman, a finger to the eyeball of the establishment; my favorite work was his adaptation of NIGHTMARE ALLEY, a grungy exploration of life among the hobos that showed you don’t have to be Honey Boo Boo.
Recently, as part of his protest against the WATCHMEN prequels, Tom Spurgeon began writing daily stories about Spain instead of BeWa stories. It was a canny choice because Spain, in his long career, exemplified what seemed like only a dream for so many cartoonists prior to his generation: a long career of strong works accompanied by a measure of critical respect that ebbed and flowed but never died out.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.