Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Home > Letters to CR

Robert Gilmour On Spain Rodriguez
posted June 6, 2012

I've been looking at Comics Reporter on and off for the past few months and saw a lot of the posts about Spain Rodriguez. It is nice that you want to take the focus off mainstream events rather than just complaining about them while giving them more time, but after seeing several posts celebrating the virtues of Spain I wondered if you'd bring up the less admirable parts of his output. Then there are mentions from contributors of his politics and his Che Guevara book being some of his virtues.

When the Che book (which taken a very pro-Guevara stance) came out I made a post about it on the Comics Journal forum and was relieved that everyone thought Guevara was a monster, I wrongly assumed there would have been more cartoonish stereotypical left wingers about. I dont recall if you taken part or if you frequented the forum at all.

There were a few prominent negative reviews of the book but most of it very positive. Although I dont want Spain villified or anything like that, I was astonished and disappointed there was no backlash when Dave Sim, Steve Ditko, Chester Brown and Frank Miller got such a hostile response for their unpopular views. I was also astonished Art Spiegelman blurbed this book because he doesn't like these type of political figures.

I think underground comix creators were right to criticize superhero comics for their sometimes self-righteous fascist implications but then one of their leading figures (who generally stands against injustice and censorship) outdoes the worst of superhero comics by praising a real life insane mass murderer, racist, killer of homosexuals, killer of children, killer and torturer of all sorts of other innocents, censor, hater of artists, lover of hatred and war, hater of anyone who disagreed with his vision.

The book is a support of everything underground comix should be against. Artists often get a really bad backlash for supporting far lesser monsters than Che. I really doubt Spain hasn't heard about all the bad things about Guevara. I think maybe people have got complacent and too accepting of this type of thing when supporters of Hitler and and even Bush still (justifiably) get ridiculed.

Here is an interesting parody of superheroes by a bunch of mainstream comic artists, which seems to include a parody of Trashman by Ralph Reese...

Also worth mentioning is that next to the Spain and Breccia books on Guevara, there is some by Konno/Shimano, Jacobson/Colon, Charles/Wozniak/Bekaert, Sinnay/Scenna and I'm sure there are two more obscure ones.

Cuba: My Revolution by Inverna Lockpez and Dean Haspiel was supposed to be really brilliant and draws upon real life experience of the writer in Castro's regime. Put out by DC Vertigo.

Might as well throw in the Friendly Dictators card set by Sienkiewicz. Some of the information is supposed to be outdated now, but it was a great affort...