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collected trashman
solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 2
total score 7
The Collected Trashman
Only Printing / 1969 / 24 Pages / Fat City and Red Mountain Tribe
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The Collected Trashman anthologizes Spain Rodriguez's Trashman serial comics from the East Village Other (EVO). Trashman is an underground comic superhero, which is a rarity (Captain Guts and Wonder Wart-Hog are the only other two of major notoriety, if you don't count antiheroes like the Checkered Demon). As explained in Trashman's first appearance in EVO, the character is "Harry Barnes, known to the world as Trashman, trained by the elusive Sixth International as a master of the para-sciences." In his adventures, Trashman defends the interests of "the working-class masses" against the tyranny and oppression of fascist government and the evil machinations of the rich and powerful. Along the way, Trashman comics include plenty of sex and violence.

Trashman has been expertly trained to use such weapons as machine guns, pistols, daggers and explosives to maim and kill his enemies. He also possesses multiple super powers, including extraordinary strength, stamina, speed, agility, reflexes, equilibrium and durability. While he can be physically hurt, his powers prevent him from being killed by conventional weapons. Trashman also has the ability to "shape-shift," or alter his shape and molecular structure to any desired form, including non-organic ones (for example, he once shifted himself into the shape of a copy of the East Village Other). He retains the full scope of his mental abilities while shifted, and can change back to human form at will.

Trashman is a reflection of Spain's own social and political beliefs, which echo the beliefs of the anti-Vietnam War movement and much of the counterculture in the 1960s. Trashman's stories take place in an America with a totalitarian form of government, mass poverty, repressive social control systems, a large military-like police force, a lack of individual freedoms, and continual warfare or violence. How close this America is to the one we lived in back in the '60s (or the one we live in today) is somewhat open to interpretation, but I think it is a lot closer to reality than anyone with political power would care to admit.

Trashman is Rodriguez's most popular character and made regular appearances in underground comics, including three full-length comic books, Subvert Comics (the first issue of which contains the same comics that appear in The Collected Trashman). From the mid-'70s on, Trashman appeared in such publications as High Times, Heavy Metal, Weirdo, and the Fantagraphics anthology Zero Zero. The style and setting of the Trashman comics are similar to many of the post-apocalyptic graphic novels and films that followed it years later, such as the Blade Runner and Mad Max films, the Dark Knight series of Batman graphic novels, and the V for Vendetta graphic novel and film.


This tabloid (about 11.5 x 16 inches, unknown copies) was published in 1969 or 1972, depending on who you believe. Fogel has it as 1969, Kennedy doesn't say, and Heritage Auctions listed it as a 1972 publication.

The Collected Trashman was born from the Berkeley Tribe, a weekly newspaper published in Berkeley, California. The Berkeley Tribe has an interesting history itself. In 1969, the staff at the Berkeley Barb was pissed off at the owner of that newspaper, Max Scherr, accusing him of turning windfall profits, so Scherr agreed to sell his paper for $200,000 to Allan Coult. But Coult failed to make the first payment on the contract, so the deal fell apart and Scherr resumed ownership of the paper. Subsequently, almost all of the 40-person staff, including managing editor James A. Schreiber, left the Berkeley Barb and formed the "Red Mountain Tribe." They began publishing the Berkeley Tribe and ended up with a circulation of over 50,000 copies.

Spain Rodriguez - 1-24