One of the country’s leading komiks artists, RICO RIVAL had loved drawing even as a preschooler. His two elder brothers were quite adept at it, and he used to try matching their artistic skills but in vain. He succeeded only when they later on chose professions other than art and he opted to pursue a career as an artist.
In school, Rival would fill his notebooks with drawings and sketches to the consternation of his teachers. But he was awarded an “Artist of the Year” medal in high school for doing all the artworks needed by the school. It was at this stage in his life when he got intrigued with the komiks craft. He made some sample illustrations and presented them to komiks publications. A traumatic experience, however, almost made him give up his ambition of becoming a komiks artist — and editor reneged on his promise to give Rival a script for illustration after making him wait fo a whole day.
Rival’s first break finally came in 1957 (when he was fresh from high school) via a 2-page short story illustration. He was paid Php10 for the work two months after he had submitted it. Then came a nove, Alyas John Doe, from the GMS Publishing Corporation. It buoyed up his spirit; he was to continue to this firm for quite some time. But the real big break did not come until 1965, after his stint at the College of Fine Arts of the University of Sto. Tomas — Mars Ravelo got him to illustrate Maruja for the Pilipino Komiks. The novel ran for two years and was monumental success. It placed Rival in the ranks of the very few recognized dramatic novel illustrators and earned for him the complete trust of Ravelo. He illustrated other Ravelo novels, among them Rowena and Bittersweet, which were also remarkable hits.
Assignment-wise, it became easy sailing for Rival from then on. But ever the consummate artist, he kept on improving his craft, obsessed with the desire to create his very own style and contribute to the advancement of the Philippine komiks art. Noticing that traditional komiks illustrations were “too detailed and smooth,” as he says, he tried western techniques — less detailed “to give the reader the chance to use his own imagination in the completion of the picture.” Rival believes that this is an element that makes the story interesting.
Rival’s forceful story-telling style has earned for him recognition from abroad. Aside from his work with Philippine publications, he has commissions to do illustrations for American comics publishers like the National Periodicals (through the Redondo Studio) and the Marvel Comics for which he has done the series, Planet of the Apes and Scarecrow, among others.
A body-building enthusiast since his youth, Rival regards a sound physique as of utmost importance in the discipline which he imposes on himself as an artist. Married to the former Purificacion Garcia of Manila and blessed with 5 children, he is one of the deacons of the Calvary Fundamental Baptist Church.
- Abel at Eden, Superstar Komiks (1981-1982)
- Ada: Ang Nuno sa Punso, Liwayway (2006)
- Ako…Ang Iyong Panginoon, Pinoy Komiks (1965-1966)
- Anak ng Hudas, Kidlat Komiks (1967-1968)
- Anak ng Lawin, Liwayway (2010-2011)
- Basura, Liwayway (2005)
- Bella 009, Pioneer Komiks (1967-1968)
- BitterSweet, Pilipino Komiks (1967-1968)
- Captain Suicide and His Daredevils, Espesyal Komiks (1965)
- Carlo Valdez, M.D., Pioneer Komiks (1966)
- Chiribiribin, Sampaguita Komiks (1966)
- Cuatro Valientes, Tagalog Klasiks (1962)
- Dalawang Patak ng Luha, Liwayway (2003-2004)
- Devil Diamond, Pilipino Komiks (1964-1965)
- Divina Gracia, Pilpino Komiks (1970)
- Gabriel, Superstar (1973-1975)
- Gimbal, Espesyal Komiks (1967-1968)
- Giyera sa Politika, Aliwan Komiks (1964-1966)
- Hanggang Kailan Kaya?, Pinoy Klasiks (1982-1984)
- Huling Lahi ng Aswang, Liwayway (2004)
- Kiss My Feet, Topstar PIP Entertainment Magazine (1972-1973)
- Lalaban Ako, Pinoy Klasiks (1992-1993)
- Little Lucy, Pilipino Komiks (1960-1961)
- Lovely Dovie, Pilipino Reporter Movie & Komiks (1971-1972)
- Lukrecia, Liwayway (2007)
- Maruja, Pilipino Komiks (1966-1967)
- Mga Tinik ng Isang Bulak, Kislap Komiks (1971)
- Planet Man, Planet Komiks (1968-1969)
- Pusong Kristal, Universal Komiks (1969-1970)
- Quatro Llamados, Pioneer Komiks (1969-1970)
- Roman Acero, Attorney at Law, Aliwan Komiks (1968)
- Rowena, Espesyal Komiks (1968)
- Siete Malditos, Tagalog Klasiks (1962-1963)
- Sino???, Hiwaga Komiks (1965)
- Sino ang Babaing Iyon?, Pinoy Klasiks (1996)
- Siyam na Biyernes, Pinoy Klasiks (1969-1971)
- Sumpa, Liwayway (2008)
- Target Max, Pioneer Komiks (1964-1965)
- Target Max vs. Magnum Boys, Pioneer Komiks (1965-1966)
- Till Death Do Us Part, Superstar Komiks (1971)
- Typhoon Dory, Aliwan Komiks (1966-1967)