Born in 1940, Spain grew up in a Buffalo, New York and later lived in New York City. He attended the Silvermine Guild School, an art and design school in Connecticut. After living in New York with fellow artists Kim Deitch and Trina Robbins, Spain moved to San Francisco where he became involved in the thriving underground comix movement. Spain’s comics were in the groundbreaking Zapcomix along with R. Crumb, Victor Moscoso, Gilbert Shelton and others. Influenced by his working-class background, Spain created the character Trashman, a Marxist superhero fighting for the working class. Spain’s apocalyptic fight scenes in this and other series led some to dub him “the Jack Kirby of underground comics.”
Spain has published both My True Story (a collection of Spain’s biographical and historical work) and Trashman Lives! with Fantagraphics, and a collection of his “Big Bitch” stories with Last Gasp. He has also contributed to anthologies including Skull, Zero Zero, The Comics Journal Special Edition and BLAB!. Fantagraphics released his first graphic novel, an adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham's classic noir novel, Nightmare Alley, in 2003 and a collection of his autobiographical short stories, Cruisin' with the Hound, in 2012.
Spain passed away in 2012 in his home in San Francisco, CA. Read The New York Times obituary.