Mars Ravelo: Early Years at the NCCA

A figure of the titular character from Mars Ravelo’s Rita

As a kid, I did not read comics (there was a lack of reading materials in our house growing up) but at a young age I already knew who Mars Ravelo was (or at least knew of his works). Mars Ravelo was the king and pioneer of Philippine comics. He was what Jack Kirby had been (or what Stan Lee is) to Marvel . He was best known for his superhero comics- Darna and Captain Barbell. Both his superhero titles have been adapted to TV series and movies (another Darna adaptation is in the works at abs-cbn). These adaptations brought his characters to a wider audience and Mars Ravelo became a household name.


Hello NCCA 🙂

Last April, the National Committee on Culture and Arts (NCCA) held an exhibit in honor of Mars Ravelo which focused on his early works. Mars Ravelo’s fame was built on his superhero comics so it came as a total surprise to me that he actually started his comics career making funny and humorous titles. His first foray in comics was just after World War 2. The Philippines at that time was still recovering from the trauma brought by the Japanese occupation. Ravelo wrote funny comics to bring levity and uplift the Filipino spirit. Although the superhero titles arguably brought him greater success, he was already successful even before the first Darna came out.

Here is a look of some of Mars Ravelo’s early works:

Mars Ravelo’s first ever published comics. In this strip/issue, Rita is seen eavesdropping while her neighbors are fighting. Sa tagalog “batang tsismosa” or usisera 🙂
“Si Benus at si Beha” Story is about two ugly sisters who both become beautiful when the clock strikes midnight
Before Darna was Darna, she was first Varga!
First Issue of Darna


I forgot where this was from but apparently inspired by Greek mythology (just like other Ravelo characters)


Ang lalim ng pinaghuhugutan ni ate…. Translation “But Roberto, have you forgotten that I am a Filipina woman …. and I only love once!”
“Bondying”-Mars Ravelo wrote a comics about a man-child. It’s about grown men who could not stand on their own and still have to depend on their parents.



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