10/28/2016

Thirty seconds to Mars

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It’s been 11 years since we last saw Angel Locsin don the red helmet-bikini combo, swallow the White Stone of the Adranika and shout “Darna!” on primetime TV. Soon, we’ll be seeing her do the same thing as she reprises her role as the crime-fighting heroine in a Star Magic film slated for release next year.

If reading those last two sentences made you sigh and remember your childhood days, then that’s just one proof that Mars Ravelo’s characters have a nostalgic effect on generations of Filipinos.

Ravelo is known as the “King of Komiks” because of all the work he did for the local comic industry. Many of us were too young to read the original comics from serial publications and magazines in the ‘50s, so the nostalgia mostly comes from seeing his name plastered above the logo titles of all the superhero teleseryes that we grew up watching. Primetime TV in the early 2000s was action-packed thanks to Vhong Navarro’s Lastikman in 2007, Richard Gutierrez’s Captain Barbell in 2006 and 2011, Marian Rivera’s Dyesebel in 2008.

Most of these characters were originally inspired by Western superheroes, but as a writer, Ravelo usually found a way to put a spin on their stories by placing them in a Filipino context to make them more relatable to readers.

Darna! Ernest Concepcion with his work, D for Divitiy.

Narda was just an ordinary girl living in a small barrio when she encountered Darna’s stone, while Teng was a skinny, asthmatic boy who happened upon the magic barbell that would transform him into Captain Barbell. Ravelo’s Rita gained popularity because readers saw her tsismosa characteristic in people they knew, while Facifica Falayfay pushed boundaries by being one of the first to display an openly gay Filipino man.

These stories of both extraordinary and ordinary beings served as escapes from the hardships of real life, which is something that we look for now when scrolling through our feeds to procrastinate.

Mars Ravelo’s influence has endured to this day as seen in the works of younger artists. Relatable slice of life comics about awkward situations (see: Huhsmile), relationships (see: Uy Si Crush!), and even history (see: Dead Balagtas) are what strike a chord with modern readers. The Pinoy komiks scene is thriving with indie artists posting their work online and occasionally getting together for conventions like Komiket and Komikon. The scene is also much younger with social media making it easier for people to showcase and read comics.


Catch the Mars Ravelo Reinterpreted exhibit at the CCP’s Bulwagang Juan Luna until Nov. 13. Exhibit viewing hours are from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

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