Marcial Ravelo, better known as Mars Ravelo (9 October 1916- 12 September 1988), is one of the most successful Filipino komiks novelists in the Philippines. At the peak of his career as “the King of Komiks” from the 1950s to the 1970s, Mars produced over a hundred works, which makes him as the one of the most loved Filipino komiks writers of all time.

During his early career, Ravelo was born in Tanza, Cavite. He started out drifting from one part time job to another, having been unable to finish schooling due to financial reasons and for he once worked as a janitor.

Ravelo had an inborn  talent for writing and drawing even at his young age. At the age of 23, he had a job as a cartoonist for the Mabuhay Extra, a Tagalog weekly news magazine. The job did not last though as war burst out in 1941.

During the war, Ravelo struggled to survive by doing part time jobs in Manila. He returned to being a janitor. After the war, he tried his luck in writing and drawing cartoons, coming out with “Ipe” comic strip in 1947, which was published in Pilipino Komiks.

He also tried to do some serious stories but was rejected by then Ace Publications’ editor Clodualdo del Mundo, who said that his stories were not yet good enough. He was later recruited by Dona Bating Guballa, owner-publisher of Bulaklak Publications, to draw cartoons for Bulaklak Magazine. “For this magazine, Ravelo created some of his early cartoons, including “Rita Kasinghot and “Varga,” the forerunner of Darna. He became a hot property of Bulaklak, and his cartoons became very popular. The once scant print runs of Bulaklak multiplied immensely.

Ravelo, however, was still lured by the komiks-magazine, something that Bulaklak did not have yet at that time (because Bulaklak issued its first komiks only in the early 1950s), and so he went back to Ace Publications, where his career really took off.

During his stay at Ace Publications, Ravelo proved that he was among the best komiks writers in the Philippines. All his works were loved by komiks readers, such as “Buhay Pilipino” in Liwayway, and great novels like Darna, Bondying, Roberta, Jack and Jill, and later, Captain Barbell, Maruja, Lastikman, Goomboo Roomboo, and hundreds of others.

Between 1950s to 1970s, he earned the unofficial title “the King of Komiks,” a feat oftentimes only contested by fans of his contemporaries, Francisco V. Coching and Clodualdo del Mundo.

In later years, Mars formed his own komiks publishing company, RAR publications. He eventually retired from the komiks industry due to illness.

In 1984, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Komiks Operation Brotherhood KOMOPEB in recognition of his immense contribution to the komiks industry. His co-awardees were Tony Velasquez, Francisco V. Coching, Jose Zabala-Santos, Larry Alcala, Francisco Reyes, and J.M. Perez.

In the mid-1980s, Mars returned to the komiks scene with a remake of his successful Goomboo Roomboo.

In 1987 he suffered a stroke, and he died a year later. He was buried in his native town of Tanza, Cavite. His legacy was more than 500 works of popular komiks novels, a true monument of his immense achievement.

The awards that Ravelo receives are just more than what he deserved, but they were perhaps anticlimactic. For long before those awards came his way, there already were fitting testimonials to Ravelo’s genius as a komiks craftsman. Every day, every single copy of the more than 2,000,000 total weekly circulation of Philippine komiks-magazines bears the Ravelo imprint: his innovations and ideas which continue to influence later day komiks writers.

For after Mars Ravelo’s dramatic entry into the local komiks scene, it was never the same again!


Ravelo created the characters of Darna the super heroine, Dyesebel the love-lorn mermaid and the Captain Barbel the super hero.

He was a prolific writer, artist, illustrator and the recognized king of komiks in the Philippines. For he was the man behind several popular characters that captivated generations of Filipinos since late 1940’s. His crisp and humorous lines, visualized into vivid and animated illustrations, have intrigue readers of all ages.

Perhaps this is also because of the range and depth of his characters; from young to elderly, from virtuous mortals to the superman. From 1950’s to 1970’s, Ravelo wrote an collaborated with the illustrators and writers to produce more than 300 komiks stories. Many of these were adapted on screen. Who wouldn’t recognize Darna, Dyesebel, Captain Barbell, Bondying and Lastikman? These are only some of Ravelo’s characters that have come to life beyond the kingdom of the printed medium and successfully traversed into the world of cinema and other media. Mars Ravelo’s stories have brought us into the worlds of the fantasy and supernatural as well as into the lives of people like us. His works show us different views of our joys and sorrows and our weaknesses and strengths. The popularity of komiks may have decreased in recent years, but his characters will remain part of the Philippines pop culture.


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