by John Legaspi
Mars Ravelo’s iconic characters come together in artist Jether Amar’s design
August is a pretty historic time for Philippine television as, after a decade, we witness Filipino superheroine Darna soar on our screens once again. After all the changes in casting and even the director leading the project, ABS-CBN’s “Darna” series is truly worth the wait based solely on the viewers’ and the netizens’ reactions toward the show. Apart from it being a good piece of entertainment, it champions local artistry and pop culture. And if you’ve been following it, we bet you’ve noticed the amazing illustration showcased during its end credits.
That artwork is made by Filipino illustrator and animator Jether Amar. Prior to it gracing our screens, it was first created in 2017 as a poster and shirt design in celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of Mars Ravelo, the comic book cartoonist and graphic novelist behind many iconic Filipino superheroes including Darna.
“I was commissioned by the Ravelo family to illustrate an event poster for Mars Ravelo’s 100-year celebration,” Jether tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “The poster was made without me thinking that it would be used later as a closing billboard for the ‘Darna’ series. It was a rush work and we have to create the [closing break bumper] using existing material.”
It features existing illustrations by Ivan Reverence, Sam Gregorio, and Hannah Militar depicting notable Mars Ravelo characters such as Darna, Dyesebel, Captain Barbel, Lastikman, Valentina, and Varga, among others.
“It took me quite some research to gather and study his well- and lesser-known characters,” Jether says. “I wanted the poster to be faithful to the characters’ original style.”
Filipino comics played a huge influence on Jether’s life as an artist. As a kid, he would rent comics and copy their pages. This passion led him to study fine arts at the University of the Philippines. Today, he works as the art director of Rocketsheep Studios, the homegrown production studio behind films like “Saving Sally” and “Hayop ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story.”
“We are now on our third animated feature called ‘ZsaZsa Zaturnnah vs the Amazonistas of Planet X,’ which is based on the popular graphic novel of the same title,” he muses.
To see more of Jether’s works, visit @jether_amar on Instagram.