Nick Gazin missed his comics column last week because he was at Art Basel. Not apologizing, just bragging.
(Source: Vice Magazine)
RIP Spain Rodriguez
“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 fought cancer for a long time. He was a wonderful father, husband, and friend. His art challenged, changed, 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. “
Janelle Hessig from Last Gasp Publishing sent that e-mail yesterday evening to me and Sean Aaberg from Pork Magazine. It arrived right after someone on Facebook told me that Spain had died and I yelled “WHAT!?” aloud at my computer in shock and anger. Janelle then sent me a link to this video that Spain’s wife made about him.
In this 15 minute documentary, R. Crumb describes Spain pretty well. “When I met him, he struck me as an archetypal character. Somewhere between a crazy artist crossed with a left wing radical, crossed with a working class Latino hood.”
Spain was a for real greaser who belonged to the Road Vultures MC. Many of his comics revolved around his motorcycle gang days. His people usually looked a little monstrous and odd to me, but his cars and motor vehicles were always perfect representations. His work took the super slickness of Wally Wood and Jack Kirby into a weird and beautiful place.
I put together a giant gallery of images that Spain made, which you can click through at the top of this page. You can also see a few of these pictures below. If you dig Spain’s art and want to check out some of his printed work, I suggest either Last Gasp’s new book SPAIN: Rock, Roll, Rumbles, Rebels & Revolutions or Fantagraphics’s Cruisin’ with the Hound.
VICE: What inspired you to write a story about a dog-fucking cop?
Sam Humphries: It came from a logical place. I used to read a blog called dolphinsex.org. It was written by a guy who claimed to have an ongoing love affair with a dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico. Two things struck me: a) How do you go about having sexual intercourse with a dolphin? and b) Was this a two-way street—a physical and emotional relationship between two intelligent mammals?
Bands go on tour all the time. Who cares. But what about cartoonists? What if they ascended from their parents’ dingy basements (where all cartoonists live), got in a sweaty van, and drove around like your favorite dipshit rockstars do? It’d be pretty cool. Cartoonists Sammy Harkham and Jonny Negron have bucked tradition by living in their own apartments, and they’ve also decided to get in the proverbial van and drive across America. Starting tomorrow at Desert Island in Brooklyn, they will hit the road, seeing such wonderful places as Los Angeles, Austin, Portland, Los Angeles again, and Bethesda, Maryland.
Sammy Harkham draws sad and beautiful stories about love, youth, suburbia, pirates, and Judaism in a slow, Daniel Clowes-sort of style. His new collection of work, Everything Together, will be released byPicturebox this October. His tour mate, Jonny Negron, draws big-breasted women eating greasy food who look like they should have been drawn in Japan in 1984. He also has a book coming out in October with Picturebox, hence the touring.
We love them both a lot and think you will too. Go support them when/if they come to your town.
Sept. 13: Desert Island, Brooklyn
Sept. 14-15: SPX, Bethesda, MD
Oct. 5: Secret Headquarters, Los Angeles*
Oct. 11: Skylight Books, Los Angeles **
Oct. 12: Mission Comics and Art, San Francisco*
Oct. 19: Floating World, Portland, OR
Oct. 24: DOMY, Austin
*Jonny Negron only
**Sammy Harkham only
‘Real Deal Magazine’ Is the Greatest and Most Violent Comic Book You’ve Never Read
People speak about their discovery of Real Deal Magazine in revelatory terms. This is mostly because it contains scenes of black characters perpetrating such extreme violence and political incorrectness that it is capable of searing a new wrinkle into your brain. Only six issues were published from 1989 to 2001, but they were enough to leave an impression in the minds of a certain cross section of artists and readers who prefer unrepentant brutality to superheroes and schlock.
Underneath Real Deal’s over-the-top tales of “urban terror” lies a painfully raw nerve. In a way, the comic’s seemingly exaggerated violence was a peek inside the illogical lobster-tank psyche of ghetto life and its resulting insanity. A world in which its inhabitants can’t help but pull one another down, which, come to think of it, is a lot like this awful place we call reality.
Real Deal’s creators, illustrator Lawrence Hubbard and writer Herald Porter McElwee (H.P.), were drawn together through a shared frustration with their lives as black men in early-80s LA, where Rodney King-style beatings were as common as the sunset. Fittingly, they met in 1979 while working a minimum-wage stocking and unloading job in the bowels of California Federal Bank. They soon commiserated over their grievances: the pigs, their grim career opportunities, and, most of all, that they grew up a couple of bastards after their fathers walked out on their families.
“That was our bond,” Lawrence said. “We’d sit around and talk about how we wished we’d had a dad in the house. We shared that feeling—that rage and anger. It’s like going through a war. Unless you’ve experienced it, you don’t know what it feels like.”
In 1985, they were still slaving away at California Federal and, through their friendship, found an unexpected channel for their anger. Like many good ideas, Real Deal began as a doodle on some scrap paper during a break from their shitty job.
“One day I come down to the basement for lunch and H.P. is drawing stick figures,” Lawrence said. “He had this crazy story with this guy selling oranges on the median and this other guy named G.C. driving down the street. G.C. takes the car and runs right over the guy on the median. Then G.C.’s old lady says, ‘G.C., you sure fucked him up.’ And he turns to her and says, ‘That could be you too, bitch, if you fuck up.’”