Che: A Graphic Biography by Spain Rodriguez
By Bill Kohlhaase
The bearded visage of Ernesto “Che” Guevara is ubiquitous, gazing out from t-shirts and posters found in dorm rooms throughout the world. What the image stands for is documented in Che, veteran cartoonist Spain Rodriguez’s biography of the handsome revolutionary who was born in Argentina, fought in Cuba and was killed in Bolivia in 1967. Rodriguez personalizes the man, finding the sources of his compassion and his anger, sketching his early life and his travels across South America chronicled in Walter Salle’s 2004 film The Motorcycle Diaries. The book doesn’t over glamorize Guevara’s life. His shortcomings—ill health, a weakness for cigars and women, his struggles as a bureaucrat—are fairly presented. Nor does Rodriguez over play Guevara’s stunning bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. The book also reminds us of the horrors of pre-revolutionary Cuba, something often forgotten in the constant din emanating from the anti-Castro forces. Boldly drawn and progressing at a pace that makes it easy to read in a single sitting, Che is a serious telling of an important life in comic form. A closing essay by Sarah Seidman and Paul Buhle discusses the irony of the commercialization of the Marxist guerilla’s image.
Verso Books, paperback, 106 pages, $16.95