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.



  1. Oh, that is sad, sad news. What a career! His Nightmare Alley is a thing of beauty.

    I had the pleasure of getting to know his daughter when she was an undergrad here at Columbia…

  2. Amazing thing about Spain is that he never lost it – thread of quality is consistent throughout career and, if anything, his work improved with age. Trashman is an iconic figure, but recent works are greater. Wish there were more to enjoy.

  3. That’s too bad. I only recently discovered him via Tom Spurgeon’s “Before Before Watchmen there was Spain Rodriguez” segments. Lovely art and an amazing life, that guy!

    He will be missed!

  4. Very sad–one of the greats! Though it was informed by classic comic storytelling, Spain’s work was powerfully unique! A giant has fallen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

  5. I’ve known Spain since 1967, and he’s always been my friend. During my lonely years of 1970 and 71, when no other male cartoonists would admit me into their circle, Spain remained my friend. I will miss you, dear old buddy.

  6. Very sorry to hear of the passing of this great artist who inspired me to the calling. We should all be lucky to have our expressive wishes fulfilled as this comic strip giant was. Sleep well, Dear Generous Prince.

  7. He was a friend of my parents and was very supportive and encouraging towards me as a young artist on the occasions I got to meet him. Truly an inspiring artist & storyteller and a very kind man. So sad to hear.

  8. So very sad. Hopefully what people are saying here is of some comfort to his family and close friends: That Spain’s life and his art were an inspiration to others. Maybe that’s the highest praise for anyone’s life. I’ve known Spain and deeply admired his work since EVO and Gothic Blimpworks. He was a gentle man, he was kind to other artists. He was — he IS — a terrific artist, an excellent writer, and (maybe less well known) a pretty amazing historical scholar. Think of Lily Litvak. From Trashman to Lily to Che… Spain stayed steady. Sail on, comrade.

  9. Oh Spain… Gonna miss you… Folks. He was a good guy… I can’t get up to San Francisco as I’ll be recording over the next two weeks…
    I remember 1980 , just down from the Cliff House , Spain , JD and I were on the sand barefoot and John wanted to sing oldies… Spain wasn’t dancing The Bristol Stomp as we were… He woefully admitted he knew the song but never learned the dance… I stepped out the steps in the sand and Spain jumped into them and away we all went… CARLOS GUITARLOS

  10. I’m so sorry to hear of Spain’s passing. I’ve known him forever, well, since around 1976, not well. My heart goes out to Susan and Nora.

    In love may he return again,

  11. Generous (sent me a ‘Subvert’ #1 when I couldn’t find one), inspiring (my ‘Tinker Tales’ character was based on Trashman), and unique (know many anarchist/feminist bikers?). I can’t see anyone filling his engineer boots soon.

  12. After many years of separation, Spain & I had the chance to talk. Spain was best friends with my husband Fred Toote’. Fred Toote’ had long since passed away (1970). After getting back together while Spain came to Buffalo, NY I learned about Spain’s written memories of Fred Toote’. Spain has kept alive the memo=y of a “note worthy” man…Strange but true!! Thanks Spain for the memories!! You will be missed!!! Fred was just waiting for you…Have fun!!

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