RON JACOBS on Spain Rodriguez and his graphic biography of Che Guevara.
Spain was always the most politically radical of the underground comix artists. His work never shied from putting his belief in the need for revolution and freedom on the page. There’s a panel in (the first?) Trashman comic that features a billboard in the dystopian future inhabited by Trashman and the humans he fights for and against. The message on the billboard reads –in a clear reference to the behavior modification theories of B.F. Skinner made popular among some in the power elites in his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity–”Beyond Freedom and Dignity Lies Fascism.” That message, delivered in the offhanded manner that it was yet in the context of the proletarian counterculture superhero Trashman fighting those who would use their money and power to control us all in their pursuit of profit, has remained with me as much as Marx’s admonition to lose our chains.
Che was not a superhero. He was a man. Despite the current fascination with his image and its use by many around the world, that is the most important lesson of his life. He worked constantly to change himself into the new man he hoped to create in the world, but he existed still as a human being like the rest of us. Spain’s comic biography of him reminds the reader of that fact. Simultaneously, it reminds us that we too are capable of creating similar change in ourselves and the among our fellow humans.