Mars Ravelo Reinterpreted Exhibit at Cultural Center of the Philippines.
15th September – 13 November. Don’t miss your chance to see it Live. Free entrance.
Mars Ravelo, a writer and artist, was born a century ago on the 9th of October. He would, within the span of four decades, eventually produce almost 300titles ranging from superhero stories to fantasy tales to comedy, sci-fi, drama, and romance narratives. This would launch him to the top of his field and gain him household name status. He was the one who brought timeless and iconic characters such as Darna, Dyesebel, Captain Barbell, Lastikman, Bondying, Varga, Wanted: Perfect Mother, Hiwaga, Maruja, Flash Bomba – characters that are all deeply ingrained in the cultural consciousness of Filipinos from all walks of life.
MARS RAVELO REINTERPRETED EXHIBIT aims to explore the dichotomy between the fine arts and comics, also commemorates the life of this talented man.
The Larger part of the exhibition is the manifestation of the overall theme, the re/interpretation of the chosen creations of Mars Ravelo by the artists through their works. When the idea of this exhibit was conceived, a substantial list of artists was almost immediately put together. The exhibition marks the start of Mars Ravelo’s Centennial Year which will continue with a series of events commemorating and celebrating his life and imparting the powerful stories and icons he created, a wealth of fantastical, larger than life, everyday tales that helped shape the world of local comics.
Born Marcial Ravelo on October 9, 1916, Ravelo spent most of his childhood in his hometown, General Trias, Cavite. Before the Second World War, his family had a small cottage industry of rolling and selling tobacco. His students days were spent largely in Manila, driven by his natural thirst for knowledge and adventure. He would frequent public libraries, sometimes even cutting classes just to do so. Growing restless inside the classroom, Ravelo decided to leave high school during his sophomore year. He had already met Tony Velasquez, a well-known comic book illustrator who influenced and encouraged him. In 1939, he became the cartoonist for the comic series, “Bemboy”. When war finally broke out in Manila, Marcial and his siblings left for Silang, Cavite on foot. Their mother passed away in 1944, and after a year, he returned to the city.
Upon his return to Manila, with the war over, Ravelo applied as a cartoonist at Ace Publication and showed the “Rita”, one of his first original cartoons, but he was rejected. Out of sheer persistence, he barged in Bulaklak magazine publisher Dona Bating Guballa’s office and showed his several panels of “Rita”. He was hired on the spot – and it was in Bulaklak where he created some of his earliest characters, including “Varga” and “Ric Benson”. It was here that Ravelo began making a name for himself. He eventually caught the attention of Don Ramos Roces, owner of Ace Publication, and on May 17, 1950, after being hired by the top publishing house at that time, the first issue of “Darna” came out.
From 1950-70, Ravelo saw the publication of what would become some of his most populart and enduring works, “Captain Barbell” and “Lastikman”, to name a few. And after working for two rich decades under different publications, he then establishes RAR Publishing House in the last 1960s, which printed his own line of comics, It had to close down in 1980s because of economic downturn, and because of the artist’s health.
For Mars Ravelo’s stories and characters to be told and retold in print, television, film, and now in this exhibition reinterpreted by artists from different fields, it is not the storyteller’s skill, importance, and influence that make his graphic novels a work of literature and art, but his commitment to his readers and followers; and that, even if told a hundred times before, never gets old.