Sunday, March 12, 2006

Emilio Rodriguez' Moses:Elevating the Art of the Comics

I consider Emilio Rodriguez' comic adaptation of Ang Kasaysayan ni Moises(The Story of Moses) one of the finest illustrations in the history of Philippine comics. Indeed, even Tony Velasquez, the Father of Philippine Comics, said that he considered Rodriguez at the top of his form when illustrating the Moses series.
All in all, Rodriguez illustrated eleven Bible series, Kasaysayan ni Abraham, Isaac at Jacob, Noe, Haring David, Ruth, Sta. Maria, Samson, Propeta Eliseo, Samuel, Moises, and Josue. All of these were brilliantly illustrated, but in Moses, he simply surpassed himself.
In fact, Rodriguez entered one of the splash pages of Moses (the page where Moses parted the Red Sea) as entry in the first art contest of SPIC( Society of Philippine Illustrators and Cartoonists), and won unanimously against some of the more veteran Filipino comic artists, including the greats Nestor Redondo and Fred Alcala.

Although Rodriguez was unable to complete the Bible series because of his going abroad, yet this series would be the one true mark of his genius as an artist.
Born in Sorsogon, in the Philippines, Rodriguez attended the University of the Philippines' School of Fine Arts where he graduated Summa Cum laude. Upon graduation, Larry Alcala, then Dean of the UP College of Fine Arts, hired Rodriguez as professor in the college. During this time, Rodriguez experimented with abstract paintings which he mainly give as gifts to friends and colleagues. Sometime in the late 1950s, Alcala recommended Rodriguez to Velasquez to work in comics.
Impressed by the young man's superior drawing skills, Velasquez assigned him with the Bible series being adapted into comics by Angel Ad Santos. The Bible series was a hark back into the olden days of making comics, devoid of conversation ballons that too often clutter in the panel.
In the middle of the series, however, Rodriguez was granted Fulbright scholarship, which involved further studies to the United States.
Unable to finish the Bible series, the job was handed over to Rubeny Yandoc, who was highly influenced by the drawing style of Rodriguez. Rubeny, for his part, excelled in his own way in this remarkable series, a can be seen in my previous post on him.

In the United States, Rodriguez worked for Gold Key and Treasure Chest publications, but soon found other more high-paying jobs in car companies like Chrysler and Rolls Royce, where he designed cars. He then retired from drawing comics. (source: Tony Velasquez' memoirs; and my interview with Rico Rival, Sonny Trinidad, and Hal Santiago, Rodriguez' friends, fellow artists, and contemporaries in the Philippines).

Joemarie Lee, a veteran Filipino comics writer and a compatriot of Rodriguez, informed me that Rodriguez became increasingly reclusive and was not heard of again even by some of his friends in the Philippines. Even now, some friends are still trying to get in touch with him but no one knew where he lives.

Reprinting the Originals in Graphic Book Form

I am planning to publish these original works as complete graphic adaptations of the Bible if my finances allow it in the near future, or if I can strike a deal with some interested publisher, who can market it in schools. The originals of Moses are complete (50 pages)and each page is in a high state of preservation.
I will feature in this blog the complete Moses series as illustrated by Emil Rodriguez at the height of his drawing prowess. His lines are simple yet beautiful and dynamic, his renderings intricate, and his compositions peerless. Indeed, this is comic art at its best.

Splash page of Moses

Detail of the Splash Page

Detail II

Page 2

Page 3

Detail of Page 3

Page 4

Detail of Page 4

Last Page



erni said...

hi Dennis,
ang galing talaga. sana nga maipublish mo ang Bible series ni Emil Rodriguez. and tama ka, napuna ko rin sa mga Bible stories na iginuhit ni Ruben Yandoc, halos hindi nagkakalayo ang hagod nila ni Emil. More Power sir.

Erni =)

erwincruz said...

hi Dennis, sino kaya ang mga influences ni Emil... kasi parang kanya lang yung style na ganyan simple yet dynamic. konting konti ang trace ng redondo at coching

Rey said...

Another feast to the eye and another master to grow and learn with!

Manilaboy said...

Wow, Dennis. This is fantastic. As I've told you before, I am a Rodriguez fanatic. Despite the dynamism of his drawings, they are so clean and precise, no nonesense, no dilly-dallying line work.

Dapat lang na i-publish mo ito at tunay itong masterpiece. Malaki ang magiging market mo nito. Catholic schools, public schools, mga diehards na tulad ko, at mga kabataang nag-aaral mag-drawing. Alam mo, hindi masama kung may kabataang mag-adopt ng ganitong style. Very pleasing to the eye.

Bravo, mi amigo! And thank you for bringing us so much joy. For, as poet John Keats once said: " A thing of beauty is a joy forever."

marvz said...

Grabeh Sir...Ang ganda talaga ng mga illustrations ni Mr. Rodriguez. Very fine.


Dana Rodriguez said...

Hi Dennis! I love this website! What a wonderful way to honor Emilio Rodriguez. He is everything you say and more. I know because I am his daughter (there are four of us). He still resides in Troy, Michigan and is currently publishing a new book. At the age of 71, he is in top form. In his new book, which he both authored and illustrated, he gives an exquisite insight and homage to both his native country and his adopted home. And there is an ingenious twist in the way the story is presented. I can't say more -- but look for it. The book will be in print this winter. Thank you for building this website!

Anonymous said...

Hello Dana,

I have been searching for your father for decades ( since the 60s). I would like to communicate with him. Tell him I'm from Sorsogon City too. Could you please furnish me his email addy ? thanks.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing talent Mr Rodriguez has. I grew up in the Phils. reading comics but I only saw his work now or I found out about him. Now I'm even more thrilled to see his new book!

Thanks for your blog and the opportunity to view his work.


kate said...

I know him too!!! He is my grandpa! bye!!!!! :)


Cyberman9 said...

Years ago, whilst a cross-enroll student @ Univ. of the East(UE), an aspiring cartoonist-MarioSta.Maria whom i met @ a bookstore somewhere along Claro M. Recto gave me a bunch of comics pages illustrated by Nestor Redondo and Emil Rodriguez.
That's my first exposure to Mr. Rodriguez' distinctive & dynamic style w/c i believe influenced the succeeding Phil. comics artists; like the late Joey Celerio whom i gave one of my early drawings.