Nonoy Marcelo, 63
Tuesday, October 22, 2002 5:41:39 p.m

Cartoonist Severino "Nonoy" Marcelo died Tuesday at the Chinese General Hospital in Manila at around 10 a.m. from complications arising from diabetes. He was 63 years old.

Marcelo, who was born on Jan. 22, 1939, is best known for creating popular comic strips Tisoy and Ikabod.

He leaves behind a legacy of nearly four decades of work, ranging from newspaper spot cartoons and caricature to lavish magazine artwork and design and comic books.

In the 1960s, British cartoonist Ronald Searle took one look at Marcelo’s drawings and remarked: "He must have been born with a pen in his hand."

Marcelo's friend, Pandi Aviado, described him as talented, a good friend and one who likes to joke. Aviado added that aside from being a cartoonist, Marcelo also painted and wrote. He also played the guitar.

Marcelo grew up in Malabon with his maternal uncle, Jose Zabala Santos, a cartoonist at Liwayway magazine. Santos was one of the pioneers of Filipino comics and creator of such popular characters as Lukas Malakas and Popoy.

Malang and "Kenkoy" creator Tony Velasquez also frequented Marcelo's house.

In an interview in April 2001, Marcelo said the first word he learned was Halakhak, referring to a popular comic book in the late 1940s to which his uncle contributed.

Marcelo's freehand drawing skills were fully developed by the time he entered high school. But he was kicked out of St. James School for being sacrilegious.

At Far Eastern University, Marcelo’s talent caught the eye of then-dean Alejandro Roces. Roces, whose family owned The Manila Times, took the budding cartoonist under his wing.

Marcelo did Plain Folks, a gently sardonic look at Filipino family life, for the Times's afternoon daily Daily Mirror.

He moved to The Manila Times in 1962, where he created Tisoy. The comic strip spun off into two movies and a television series.

Ikabod started life in the Marcos era, where "Dagalandia" became an everyday breakfast treat for readers. The strip was considered an allegorical depiction of Philippine society.

The Catholic Mass Media Award recognized Marcelo for his work in Ikabod in 1985. It was one of the few times that a comic strip was recognized as serious journalistic commentary.

Before his death, Marcelo was working on a book that was to present a history of his hometown, Malabon. The book's working title was Tambobong: A Malabon Voyage, which chronicles his obsession with the minutiae of his hometown’s history.

He also planned to put up a cartoon museum that would archive the rich history of political cartoons and comics in the Philippines.

Marcelo at one time said cartoons contributed a lot to the Filipino culture, but this has remained unacknowledged. He said the Filipino language would not have been spread to the Visayas and Mindanao without cartoons.

Marcelo is also the only cartoonist to be honored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines when the Republic observed its centennial in 1998. The CCP cited him, among a group of 100 Centennial Awardees, for excellence in the visual arts and for helping define national identity by taking a stand on political and social issues.

His remains lie in state at Floresco Funeral Homes, Gen. Luna St., Concepcion, Malabon. His remains will be cremated on Friday.