Editorial cartoon legend Corky Trinidad dies, legacy of his pen lives

Mary Poole
Mary Poole
Frank Bridgewater
Frank Bridgewater
Corky drew his own obituary cartoon
Corky drew his own obituary cartoon

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A sad day for fans of the legendary Corky Trinidad, the editorial cartoonist for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He died early Friday morning, 2:00 a.m. at Saint Francis Hospice, of complications from pancreatic cancer.

His son Lorenzo is quoted saying, "He could've picked Lincoln's birthday, he could've picked Valentine's Day, but he chose Friday the 13th. I know how Pop is."

That kind of humor is what loved ones remember most about Trinidad.

On the front page of the Star-Bulletin on Friday was a farewell cartoon of Trinidad. He created it five years ago, after CNN's Larry King asked the rich and famous to write their own epitaphs and obituaries.

"He had a real gift for doing obituary cartoons, and he did his own and he's really good," said Trinidad's editor, Mary Poole.

Trinidad's nearly forty year career with the Star-Bulletin came to a rest last Fall, when he learned he had pancreatic cancer.

"When he left, I had calls and emails from all over the country and even outside of the country asking 'Where is Corky?'" said Frank Bridgewater, Editor of the Star-Bulletin.

Trinidad is the first Asian editorial cartoonist to have his work syndicated in the U.S. In 2005, Trinidad was inducted into Hawaii's Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame. The nation's leaders often asked him for his original work.

"The only president in modern times who didn't ask for his cartoons was Richard Nixon. And if you looked back at some of his cartoons and drawings of Richard Nixon, you might know the answer why," said Poole.

Trinidad made people laugh, just as much as he made them angry. Colleagues say Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos didn't like Trinidad's criticism, and harrassed him. So Trinidad left the country and that's when he landed a job with the Star-Bulletin.

"His version of the death of Ferdinand Marcos - his coffin is a safe and he's buried with all the money bags," said Poole, pointing to the cartoon.

One of Trinidad's favorites - his version of the evolution of man.

"This was done in 1993. I think it's a classic Corky. He's taken an idea that many cartoonists have used and put his own imprint on it," said Poole.

It's an imprint many say they'll miss. Trinidad was 69 years old. He lived in Hawaii Kai and leaves behind his wife Hana, five children, and two grandchildren.

Looking closely at the obituary Trinidad drew for himself, it looks like he's crying because he's happy to get his halo. But Poole thinks the teardrop is actually sweat, as if Trinidad was nervous because he wasn't sure if he was going to get in to heaven.

Poole says that's more like Trinidad - a lot of fun, always happy, and truly gifted.