Nestor Redondo (1928-1995) is a Filipino komiks illustrator who was born in Candon, Ilocos Sur in 1928. Redondo is widely considered one of the world's finest illustrators. Some of his works in the Philippines include illustrations for such titles as Pilipino Komiks, Hiwaga Komiks, Tagalog Klasiks, and Espesyal Komiks. He also founded his own komiks companies Superyor and Ares Publications.
Early Life and Career
As a young boy, Redondo was exposed to comics early, when his father would bring him imported comics featuring characters like Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny. What fascinated the young Redondo though, were comics like Tarzan, Buck Rogers, Superman, Flash Gordon, Lone Ranger and Captain America. His addiction to comics was so strong that he sacrificed his lunch money to buy more.
Nestor took up Architecture at the Mapua Institue of Technology at the behest of his parents, who believed that one comics artist in the family was enough. Nestor's brother Virgilio was at the time already illustrating comics for Bulaklak Publications.
In the early 1950s, Redondo established himself as one of the most sought-after illustrator in the Filipino komiks scene. His attention to detail as well as his dynamic figures were considered masterpieces. Some of his best remembered works during this era were Darna, Quo Vadis, Nicomedes, Serafin Arkanghel, Diwani, Reyna Bandida, and Ang Signo.
In the early 1970s, Redondo moved to the United States to continue work as illustrator for American comic books.
Nestor Redondo's first major work in the United States was The Swamp Thing, where he took over illustrating the mysterious mossy giant when the equally talented Berni Wrightson left the series.
While regular Swampy readers are still divided over which artist is the better between the two, it is clear from the start that Redondo was the best Wrightson replacement. Comic Guide reviews the stark difference between Wrightson's evocative drawing style against Redondo's realistic renditions of human figures. "Redondo's style was in complete contrast with Wrightson's," says editor Frank Plowright, "yet Redondo's style was also very accomplished."
A couple of issues later, it was Len Wein who left the creative team (apparently out of difference with DC management) and David Michelinie took over as Swamp Thing writer. The new team of David Michelinie and Redondo had their classic moments in the continuing saga of The Swamp Thing, and Redondo would remain Swampy's illustrator for a total of 12 issues.
After Swamp Thing, Redondo illustrated the Rima the Jungle Girl, which, according to Comic Guide is Nestor Redondo's finest work. "Redondo's version of the South American jungles is a terra incognita full of sinuous big cats and snakes, his Rima a ghostly figure of who is both majestic and innocence."
To top it all, Rima's covers were graced by none other than Joe Kubert, who had since then become one of Redondo's great admirers. Says Plowright, "Rima is one of DC's great, yet overlooked masterpieces."
The Comic Book Artist Magazine described Redondo's first double splash page of Rima as one of Redondo's finest examples of illustrative prowess.
"It is one of the most beautiful beginnings of any comic books to have been published", says the magazine. There were all in all seven Rima comic books published.
Perhaps known to Joe Orlando and Joe Kubert (yet of course, unknown to American comics readers) was the fact that even more than twenty years before, Redondo had already created a similar character to Rima, in the character of Diwani, published in the Hiwaga Komiks in 1951. It was a popular serial in the Hiwaga Komiks, so popular it had been made into a movie starring Alicia Vergel, then one of the Philippine's most popular actresses.
Redondo's next project with DC was the comics adaptation of the Bible, as scripted by Sheldon Mayer and edited by Joe Kubert.
Working on the lay-outs of Kubert, Redondo presented the Bible as "a wholly engaging panoramic scale of spectacular proportions. Redondo excelled himself in providing page after page of detailed, almost baroquely intricate tableux, making full use of the comic's large format...for fans of great art, this is a must." (source: Comic Guide, edited by Frank Plowright)
After the Bible, Redondo engaged in numerous drawing assignments for several U.S. comics companies including Marvel and Warren. One of his best works was a portfolio of Conan paintings that have been much admired internationally.
The great contributions of Nestor Redondo as illustrator par excellence was fully recognized by the Americans when he was honored with the Inkpot Award during the 1979 San Diego Comics Convention. He was, so far, one of the only four Filipinos to have been honored with this prestigious award. The other two, of course, were Alex Nino, Alfredo Alcala, and Ernie Chan.
Nestor Redondo undoubtedly ranks among the world's finest illustrators. Although he was honored several times in the Philippines and the United States, he always remained humble and meek as an artist and gentleman, a fact that doubly endeared him to so many of his friends and admirers.
He passed away in 1995.
- Marcelino, Ramon, ed. A History of Komiks in the Philippines and other Countries. Manila: Islas Filipinas Publishing House, 1985.