For a quick but insightful look at the life of Che Guevara you may want to take a peruse Spain Rodriguez’s Che: A Graphic Biography. Manuel “Spain” Rodriguez, the underground cartoonist best known for his character Trashman, ponders the question of Guevara’s international cult figure status, finding an answer in his identification with the struggle against US imperialism. Verso describes the book thus:
This dramatic and extensively researched book breathes new life into his story, portraying his struggle through the medium of the underground political comic — one of the most prominent countercultural art forms since the 1960s. Spain Rodriguez’s powerful artwork illuminates Che’s life and the experiences that shaped him, from his motorcycle journey through Latin America, his rise to prominence as a leader in Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement, his travels in Africa, his involvement in the insurgency that led to his death in Bolivia, and his extraordinary legacy.
I am, I must confess, a huge fan of graphic novels, having been raised on comics, illustrated novels, and fotonovelas, so this sort of introduction to the life of Che seemed like a wonderful idea. This biography, which came out last October from Verso but I just found on my desk under a huge pile of papers, is particularly good at showing how the United States deployed its power to suppress revolutionary movements in Cuba and throughout Latin America. This is not surprising, as Trashman—the character that made Rodriguez famous—is a hero of the working classes in a futuristic fascist US police state whose political notions are not far from those of Che Guevara. For students, it would offer a sweeping view of Guevara’s role in the consolidation of the Cuban Revolution and in Cuba’s exportation of revolutionary ideals throughout Latin America. The book includes an essay by Sarah Seidman and Paul Buhle titled “Che Guevara, Image and Reality” that explores the commodification of Guevara’s image and his influence of a broad range of anti-imperialist movements around the world.