cover image Cruisin’ with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté

Cruisin’ with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté

Spain Rodriguez. Fantagraphics, $19.99 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-60699-461-0

Though he told an admirably straight story in 2008’s graphic biography of Che Guevara, underground comics legend Rodriguez has been best known for his stories of the fantastic and grotesque. But once readers get a look at the autobiographical pieces gathered in this noisy, battered collection, they’ll see that Rodriguez’s real late-1950s adolescence in Buffalo, N.Y., seems not that far removed from the fantasies he started concocting in the late-1960s. The book is to some degree organized around the exploits of Fred Tooté, a sociopathic disturber of the peace (drawn with the creepy dot-eyes of a Nancy comic) whom Rodriguez palled around with. But this is too roustabout a volume to stick with any one story. Filled with drunken, rambling escapades and backgrounded by a rock soundtrack and the roaring engines of the motorcycle gang Rodriguez hung with, the book has energy and rot and sex and fury to spare. Rodriguez doesn’t seem overly impressed with his youthful exploits, keeping the book from embracing the sticky nostalgia that too often pervades accounts of mid-century American life. This is the portrait of the rebel nearing transition, from leather-jacketed tough to cocked-fist revolutionary of the decade to come. (Apr.)