AuthorsFrom the Wire

The Red and the Orange: PW Talks with Edel Rodriguez

In “The Red and the Orange: PW Talks with Edel Rodriguez,” Rodriguez discusses his debut graphic memoir, “Worm,” which combines his anti-Trump political art with the story of his family’s journey from Cuba to the United States in the 1980s. He challenges some of the false assumptions Americans have about Cuba, highlighting the political similarities between Cuba and North Korea. He also explores how his memoir responds to Trumpism and rising extremism, as well as the insight he gained into his parents’ choices through becoming a father himself. Rodriguez shares his decision behind the color palette used in the book and the message he wants to convey through it.

The Red and the Orange: PW Talks with Edel Rodriguez

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The Red and the Orange: PW Talks with Edel Rodriguez

False assumptions about Cuba

When it comes to Cuba, there are many false assumptions that Americans tend to have. Edel Rodriguez, the acclaimed political artist and author of the graphic memoir “Worm,” believes that liberal America’s treatment of countries like North Korea or China is often misguided. There seems to be a love affair with everything Cuban in the United States, with people embracing the food, the dancing, and the overall culture. However, politically, Cuba is not that different from North Korea. Both countries have had one person in charge for decades, leading to the perpetuation of oppression and suffering. Rodriguez points out that anytime a single person holds power for such a long time, horrible things inevitably happen. It is essential to challenge these false assumptions and take a closer look at the realities of Cuba.

Response to Trumpism and rising extremism

Edel Rodriguez’s memoir, “Worm,” serves as a response to the current state of Trumpism and rising extremism. In today’s narrative about immigration, many people focus solely on the numbers and the fact that thousands of people are showing up at the border. But what is often overlooked is why these individuals are leaving their countries in the first place. Rodriguez believes that most people do not want to leave their homes and families behind. Through his art, he aims to tell a deeper story about the reasons behind migration and what people are escaping. As a political artist, Rodriguez feels compelled to confront the realities of what is happening in America. By sharing his own experiences and insights, he hopes to provide a better understanding of the challenges faced by immigrants and create empathy and compassion among his viewers.

Insight from being a father

As a father, Edel Rodriguez began to wonder if he would make the same choices that his parents had made when they decided to leave Cuba. He questioned himself, wondering what it would take for him to uproot his family from a stable life and seek refuge elsewhere. This curiosity sparked his interest in interviewing his parents, hoping to gain insight into their experiences and understand the circumstances that led them to leave their home country. Rodriguez experienced a similar situation when he visited Cuba with his own children. During that visit, his daughter fell ill, and they struggled to find proper medical care. This moment put him in the same shoes that his parents were in when he was a child, deepening his appreciation for their sacrifices and the difficult choices they had to make.

Color palette decision

In “Worm,” Edel Rodriguez made a deliberate decision to use a limited color palette. He wanted to evoke specific emotions and symbolism through his color choices. The recurring colors that stood out to Rodriguez were red and green. In Cuba, everything is painted in shades of red, representing communism. Additionally, the military is associated with the color green in the beginning of the book. However, when the story transitions to Miami, Rodriguez introduced the color pink to represent the vibrant culture of the city. And finally, orange was used to symbolize Trump and the political climate surrounding his presidency. Initially, Rodriguez avoided using red due to its association with communism. But he eventually challenged this notion, realizing that a dictatorship should not have the power to own certain colors. By reclaiming the color red, he aimed to convey a powerful message through his art.

About Edel Rodriguez

Edel Rodriguez is an acclaimed political artist known for his powerful and thought-provoking works. Born in Havana, Cuba, Rodriguez immigrated to the United States as a child and grew up in Miami. His experiences as an immigrant inspire much of his art, as he aims to shed light on the realities faced by marginalized communities. Rodriguez has gained recognition for his illustrations that challenge political figures and address social issues. His work has been featured in prominent publications such as The New Yorker, Time, and The Washington Post. Rodriguez’s unique style and ability to convey complex ideas through visual imagery have made him a prominent figure in the art world.

Worm: Rodriguez’s debut graphic memoir

“Worm” is Edel Rodriguez’s debut graphic memoir, set to be published by Metropolitan in November. The book intertwines his anti-Trump political art with the story of his family’s exodus from Cuba in the 1980s. Through a powerful combination of visual storytelling and personal narrative, Rodriguez offers readers a window into his family’s journey and the struggles they faced as immigrants. “Worm” explores themes of identity, sacrifice, and the pursuit of a better life. With his distinct artistic style, Rodriguez’s memoir promises to be a compelling and emotionally resonant read.

Interview with Edel Rodriguez

In a recent interview, Edel Rodriguez delved into various aspects of his work and personal experiences. He discussed the false assumptions that Americans often have about Cuba, shedding light on the political similarities between Cuba and North Korea. Rodriguez also shared his response to Trumpism and rising extremism, explaining the importance of storytelling to address the complexities of immigration. Furthermore, he provided insight into his journey as a father and how it gave him a deeper understanding of his own parents’ choices. Lastly, Rodriguez elaborated on the color palette decision in “Worm” and reflected on the challenges of creating a graphic memoir.

Social and Political Impact of Rodriguez’s Art

Edel Rodriguez’s art has had a significant social and political impact. His illustrations have sparked conversations, prompted reflection, and challenged conventional thinking. Some of his works have generated controversy and backlash, but they have also fueled activism and inspired others to speak out against injustice. By combining art and politics, Rodriguez has become a catalyst for dialogue and change. His artwork has the power to reach a wide audience and influence public opinion, making him an essential figure in the contemporary art scene.


In conclusion, Edel Rodriguez’s graphic memoir, “Worm,” and his overall body of work tackle crucial social and political issues. Rodriguez challenges false assumptions about Cuba and sheds light on the realities of the country’s political landscape. He responds to Trumpism and rising extremism by creating art that tells a deeper story about immigration and humanizes the experiences of those seeking a better life. As a father, Rodriguez gains insight into his parents’ choices and draws from his own experiences to create meaningful and impactful art. The color palette decision in “Worm” adds depth and symbolism to the narrative. Edel Rodriguez’s art has had a profound impact on the social and political discourse, and his work continues to inspire and provoke thought. As he ventures into new projects and artistic endeavors, it will be exciting to see the further contributions he makes to the art world.