Friday, October 27, 2006

BEMBOY: Ravelo's First Comic Strip, 1939

I recently purchased an old 1939 magazine called MABUHAY EXTRA from my local antique dealer, and while I was reading the magazine, I was stunned to see this:

All the while everyone thought that Mars Ravelo started cartooning in Bulaklak magazine in 1947, with his supposedly "first" comic strip Rita Kasinghot. He had applied earlier that year in Ace Publications but then Ace editor Clodualdo del Mundo rejected him.

It was a bruise on the confidence of the young Ravelo, but being a fighter(as he always say he was), he shrugged his shoulder and went straight to Dona Bating, publisher of Bulaklak Publications. Maybe Ravelo was lucky, since he found Dona Bating in a serene mood: she was lazily seated on one of the steps of the stair, her hair being removed of lice.

The old lady liked Rita Kasinghot, and there and then hired Ravelo as a regular cartoonist of Bulaklak. Ravelo's Rita Kasinghot comic strip gave a new life to Bulaklak which was until then a no match to the popularity of Ace's komiks-magazines. For Ravelo, it was a sweet success, because afterwards, it was Del Mundo who wanted to recruit him back to Ace. He did, and the rest was history.

I re-read the classic "History of Komiks in the Philippines", and there it definitely says that Ravelo's first comic strip was Rita Kasinghot. I suppose R.R. Marcelino interviewed Ravelo and it could be possible that Ravelo himself confirmed this.

Now, a rewriting of this portion of history is needed. It was not Bulaklak who gave Mars Ravelo his first job as cartoonist, it was Mabuhay.

I can therefore safely say that Bemboy, and not Rita Kasinghot, is the very first cartoon strip of the great Mars Ravelo.

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