Rodriguez, Manuel 1940-
RODRIGUEZ, Manuel 1940-
Male. Born March 22, 1940, in Buffalo, NY (some sources say Mexico). Education: Attended Silvermine Guild Art School.
Author and illustrator of graphic novels.
United Cartoon Workers of America (founding member).
GRAPHIC NOVELS; AND ILLUSTRATOR, AS SPAIN RODRIGUEZ
Trashman Lives!: The Collected Stories from 1968 to 1985, Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA), 1989.
(With Susie Bright) She: Anthology of Big Bitch, Last Gasp (San Francisco, CA), 1993.
My True Story, Fantagraphics Books (San Francisco, CA), 1994.
GRAPHIC NOVELS; ILLUSTRATOR AS SPAIN RODRIGUEZ
Harry Camper, Boots, Precipice Press (San Rafael, CA), 1998.
(With Harold S. Robbins) Kathy Glass Alien Apocalypse 2006, Frog Ltd. (Berkeley, CA), 2000.
Bob Frissell, You Are a Spiritual Being Having a Human Experience, Frog Ltd. (Berkeley, CA), 2003.
William Lindsey Graham, Nightmare Alley, Fantagraphics Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
OTHER; AS SPAIN RODRIGUEZ
Author of "Trashman" comic strip, 1968-85. Contributor to East Village Other, Zap!, BLAB!, Arcade, San Francisco Comic Book, and Tales of the Leather Nun; contributor to anthology Smart Mouth, 2000, and Graphic Classics: Edgar Allen Poe; author of online graphic novel Dark Hotel to Salon.com.
Manuel "Spain" Rodriguez's long-running comic strip "Trashman," is legendary within the underground comics world, but remains little known outside it. The "Trashman" strips, which ran regularly in various periodicals from 1968 through 1985, are set in a post-apocalyptic future where Harry Barnes, who goes by the name Trashman, fights to defend the working classes from the fascist rich. The stories resonated in the America of the late 1960s and 1970s, when many people saw events in the world, particularly the Vietnam War, as part of a pattern of the rich exploiting the working class to achieve their own ends.
Outside of the underground comics world, Rodriguez is known for his graphic-novel adaptations of classic books, including William Lindsay Gresham's noir novel Nightmare Alley and some of Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" mysteries. The former tale is about a carnival worker, Stanton Carlisle, who learns the secret of the medium for whom he works and sets up his own spiritualist scam. The con grows in scale, until Stan is finally brought low by a psychiatrist named Lilith. Time reviewer Andrew D. Arnold commented that Rodriguez is the perfect choice to bring "a vivid cast of freaks, grifters, and phonies to their graphic realization." The critic added, "Drawing as he always has, with thick, black lines, Spain's technique graphically represents the dark tones of the world." A Publishers Weekly reviewer also thought that Rodriguez's style well complements the tone of Gresham's novel, saying that the illustrator's "extreme angles and high-contrast imagery help him remain faithful to the story's cynicism."
When asked by interviewer Jon Ascher on jonascher.com why he chose to draw comics for a living, Rodriguez explained: "It's the one way a person can reach the full range of storytelling, somewhat akin to a movie, with a minimum of filters. If you do a movie, you obviously have to get the money to put something together. Comics are relatively cheap. It is labor-intensive; basically, the artist is everything from the janitor to the director, and everything in between. But if you really have that itch to tell stories, it's more accessible than anything else."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Nightmare Alley, p. 969.
Publishers Weekly, September 1, 2003, review of Nightmare Alley, p. 67.
Time, March 7, 2003, Andrew D. Arnold, "Down a Dark 'Alley'"; August 25, 2003, James Poniewozik, review of Nightmare Alley, p. 58.
Comics on the Verge,http://www.mica.edu/ (June 15, 2004), "Spain Rodriguez."
Rambles,http://www.rambles.net/ (June 21, 2004), Chet Williamson, review of Nightmare Alley.
Sound of the Baskervilles,http://www.soundofthebaskervilles.com/ (December 26, 2001), Stu Shiffman, review of Sherlock Holmes' Strangest Cases.
Spain Rodriguez Web site,http://www.spainrodriguez.com (June 21, 2004).*