Corky Trinidad

Inducted into Hall of Fame

Feb. 25, 2005

By Chuck Frankel

Former Star-Bulletin news editor


Corky considered joining the Communist Huks fighting in the Philippines, but he remembered that the pen is mightier than the sword. He also realized that the arms of Hana were more inviting than the arms of the guerrillas.

Such sentiments brought Corky to Hawaii. Since 1969, he has skewered and slain the mighty and the powerful and he has entertained the readers of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

The function of the editorial cartoonists differs vastly at the Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser. As Helen Chapin notes in her fine book “Shaping History,” the Advertiser cartoons illustrate the editorials; the cartoons “reflect what we think,” said John Griffin, a former editor of the Advertiser editorial page.

At the Star-Bulletin, Corky’s cartoons reflect what Corky thinks on local, national and international issues. The cartoons do not represent the stands of the Star-Bulletin -- they represent Corky.

Corky gets his ideas from the news “I do a cartoon because I have a theme I’d like to get off my chest,” Helen Chapin quotes Corky as saying. Things bug him -- and then his cartoons bug the reader, When I edited letters to the editor at the Star-Bulletin,

Corky sparked more letters, pro and con, than any other staff member.

His cartoons were in many battles: against the wars in Vietnam in the 1960s and in Iraq today; for civil rights, for justice for all, for compassion for the poor, the homeless, Palestinians, for the homeless, for the disenfranchsed, for blacks, for Filipinos, for Hawaiians; in defense of the environment, for a cleaner society, physically and ethically,.


So I am happy that the Hawaii chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is initiating our cartoonist, Corky Trinidad, into the Hawaii Journalism Hall of Fame..

He has had a tremendous impact on this community. Frank Fasi, who called Corky anti-Filipino before realizing that Corky was a Filipino, will not forget how Corky caricatured him. Nor will George Ariyoshi. John Waihee, Ben Cayetano and Linda Lingle.


He did not let death cover up wrong-doing, as exemplified by his famous cartoon of Ferdinand Marcos buried with bags of money.

The cartoonist’s lot is not always a happy one. Critics impugn his integrity and patriotism. One cartoonist landed a Honolulu editor in jail -- back in 1902. Helen Chapin reports how cartoonist Ralph Yardley of the Advertiser attacked a judge’s lenient
sentence of a man who had bitten a woman. Judge George D. Gear sentenced editor Walter G. Smith to 30 days imprisonment for contempt of court but freed the editor after two days.

Corky has heaps of contempt, but he has never gotten any of his editors jailed -- yet He lives up to that journalism adage -- afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

I am happy that I worked for the Star-Bulletin when the editorial cartoonist had office space in the news room. I would not like to work for it today when the cartoonist draws from home. I was stimulated with the intellectual foreplay of Corky. His on-site presence also allowed Corky to do some mundane things, like being an assistant coffee maker in the years when a printer maintained a 10-cent a cup coffee enterprise in the newsroom on Kapiolani Boulevard. Corky made sure the pot didn’t run dry. Dryness doesn’t seem to be in Corky’s vocabulary.

For some years, Corky drew a daily comic strip, Aloha Eden, which dealt with the foible and fables of Hawaii. My young son, I and thousands of readers enjoyed this strip. It is unusual for a daily newspaper to have a strip devoted to its locale

Another project that Corky worked on for several years was a Page One cartoon for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Before I became news editor, one year the Page One photo exemplifying Christmas was a Sealife Park dolphin jumping through a wreath. This offended my religious sensibilities, me being a non-Christian. I felt that the Nativity should be the center of the Christmas holiday. I suggested that for Page One Corky draw a full-page Hawaiian nativity scene. They indeed were works of art in full color, in the days when the use of such color was rare. This custom continued for several years -- even when there was a double murder on the beach crying for Page One display.

So Corky has done many things. Editorial page cartoonist; Page Two panel cartoon; daily comic strip, Nativity art. Assistant coffee maker.

A nice guy. I refuse to discuss his golf


Hall of Fame

Hawaii SPJ