Monday, December 18, 2017

Subvert Comics issue 2

by Spain Rodriguez
from Subvert Comics, issue two
Rip Off Press, 1972

This Trashman story from the second issue of Subvert comics is one of the highlights of the entire Underground Comix movement.

While he was not as adept a draftsman as the artists in aboveground comics, Spain Rodriguez showed considerable talent and ingenuity in applying a mixture of Zip-A-Tone effects, panel framing and composition, and intricate penciling. The creativity of his work on this strip arguably matches up well with any then appearing in the black and white Warren and Skywald magazines.

In his depiction of a dystopian, near-future cityscape marked by the presence of colossal industrial structures and a discarded corpse lying amidst mounds of trash and rubble, Spain prefigured the post-apocalyptic imagery that would be essential to later 70s mainstream comics like Marvel's Deathlok the Demolisher

An argument could also be made that with Subvert, Spain also was prefiguring the Cyberpunk aesthetic.

In a 1998 interview with John Ascher, Spain remarked on this aspect of his Trashman work: 

A: Your brand of political satire in a post-nuclear world pre-dates many works with similar traits. The 1983 Ridley Scott film "Bladerunner" contains futuristic imagery strikingly similar to yours, and Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel "The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller for D.C. Comics was a story of Batman, set in the future, that satirized and criticized American society under Reagan during the cold-war. Do you see your work as being influential in pop-cultural works such as these and others?

S: That’s hard to answer. It’s certainly flattering to think so, but we’re all a product of these cultural forces. I may have gotten there first; certainly a lot of people thought that "Road Warrior" was resonant of the third issue of Subvert Comix- "Highway Zero," that sort of thing, and maybe it was. These ideas are out there. The artist pursues a cultural thread, and there are other people pursuing that cultural thread as well, so you exchange these ideas, they’re thrown back and forth, amplified, then the cultural thread goes underground, then it pops up again, often.........I see myself as having part of a very specific cultural thread. It’s interesting, ‘cause when we did underground comix, the thing that developed was putting a lot of detail, just packing the panel with detail. I saw this thing about film noir, and one of the techniques was that they had this full focus, where they’d focus on stuff in the foreground and stuff in the background. This was a completely unconscious thing that spontaneously happened.

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