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Spain will be missed
Spain Rodriguez drew many wonderful covers for SCREW Magazine during his long cartooning career. Here are the nine I have in my collection, but I suspect there are lots more. If anyone has a SCREW cover by Spain that’s not posted here, I’d love to see it.
Here are two paragraphs I wrote in remembrance of Spain for Tim Hodler at The Comics Journal:
By 1982, I’d outgrown the superhero comics I’d read steadily through my teen years. To fill the void, I was buying all the undergrounds I could find at various long-lost quirky NYC comic shops like Soho Zat. As is typical, Crumb was the gateway drug. Fritz the Cat led quickly to Zap Comix, and while I loved nearly everything I saw between Zap‘s covers, I was particularly drawn to Spain Rodriguez’s bold pages that looked as if they’d been drawn by Wally Wood on four hits of blotter acid. Spain was sketching a world I desperately wanted to visit: brutally violent, brazenly sexy and relentlessly hip. Spain’s vision is a paranoid sci-fi fever dream where insidious corruption trickles down from the hidden seats of power, while leather-clad culture warriors fight that power in the name of the people’s revolution. Good stuff.
Roughly a decade and a half later, in the midst of a notorious legal jam, I found myself reaching out to many “big name” cartoonists in the hope that I’d score contributions for my benefit book. I was struck by the generosity of Spiegelman, Crumb, Robt. Williams, Kim Deitch, and some of the other underground greats, but again, I was especially touched by the kind spirit of Spain Rodriguez. During a visit to San Francisco, Spain graciously spent most of a morning driving me around town in his vintage auto, sharing stories about the city he loved, his underground comix collaborators, and other anecdotes from the kind of life that would make any sane person green with envy. From the Road Vultures to the ’68 Democratic Convention and the Mitchell Brothers’ O’Farrell Theater, this was a man who’d been given a front row seat to the spectacle of mid-Twentieth Century America in transformation. Luckily for his readers, Spain had both the intelligence to understand what he was looking at, and the skill to share his insights with us in ways that were both moving and beautiful. In this instance at least, the cliched caveat that one should never meet one’s heroes was entirely wrong.