Sunday, February 22, 2009
Emil Rodriguez: First to America
Emilio D. Rodriguez or Emil Rodriguez, as he was known early in his career, was one of the most brilliant illustrators in the Golden Age of Philippine Komiks. However, he abruptly left the Philippine comics art scene to go to the United States, probably sometime in the very late 50's or early 60's, and very little is known about him since. This would probably place him as one of the first, if not the first Pinoy comic book artist to come to America and test the waters here... but apparently, and to the disappointment of his many fans, not as a comics artist. Legend has it (how else to explain but to ascribe legendary status to his mysterious disappearance), that he gave up comics to take a very lucrative position as a car designer at one of Detroit's Big Three. However, that is pure hearsay, and not something we can verify as fact even in this age of the internet, probably adding more to the mystery shrouding Rodriguez's disappearance. We do know for fact, that he never worked for Marvel or DC. So, one can now only speculate to the what might have been -- imagine what a perfect fit his powerful figures and dynamic layouts would have been for the likes of Superman, Batman, Avengers, etc.
I did manage, however, in my ever-constant search for collectibles in bookstores, comics stores and thrift shops, to find comics that he did for a little-known publication called Treasure Chest. Yet another mystery: why did Rodriguez choose to illustrate for this publisher, when, with his impressive resume, he could easily have worked for either Marvel or DC had he chosen to do so, particularly since by that time, his colleagues from the Philippines were already working for the aforementioned publications? Be that as it may, suffice it to say that it is our good fortune to find comics that he actually illustrated and published in America. Here is Emil Rodriguez's cover for Treasure Chest and the five-page story titled appropriately enough "First to America."
For more of Emil Rodriguez, check out this link to my other blog:
Emil Rodriguez in Treasure Chest.