The fabled world of the Philippine Jungle-lord comic strip was created by Francisco Reyes, one of the pioneers Filipino comic illustrators. Prior to his career as a comics artist, Reyes was a student at the UP School of Fine Arts, where his artworks greatly impressed his teacher Fernando Amorsolo. He won several awards in many art competitions. Upon graduation in 1932, Reyes joined the Liwayway, where he served as a junior artist under Tony Velasquez. Later on, Reyes became the first art teacher of the young Francisco V. Coching.
On 7 July 1933, Reyes, in collaboration with writer Pedrito Reyes, created 'Kulafu', which was the first colored adventure strip, as well as the first two-page comic strip, in the Philippines. Heavily influenced by Edgar Rice Borrough's 'Tarzan', Kulafu's jungle-kingdom was set in the deep jungles of the southern Philippines, where he battled dragons, siukoy (mermen), and other mythical creatures.
'Kulafu' became one of the most popular comic strips in the Philippines. It was translated into Bisaya, Bikolnon, Ilokano, and later, in Spanish for a South American magazine. The strip became a household name. It had become so popular that a local wine company even purchased the right to make "Kulafu" as their brand name. Up to now, some 70 years after, Vino Kulafu is still selling well in the market.
In 1936, Pedrito Reyes was unfortunately disabled. The task of bringing the weekly story fell on Francisco, who managed to develop further the plot originally scripted by Pedrito. Francisco even made a sequel in 1940 called 'Anak ni Kulafu'. During the Japanese Occupation, Reyes discontinued 'Kulafu', and instead worked as an artist for Shin-Seiki a Tagalog-Nippongo publication.
After the war, Reyes joined the Halakhak Komiks where he created another Kulafu-like character, 'Talahib'. Some of Reyes' later comic strips were 'Kilabot', 'Joe Safari', and 'Buhawi' in 1947, 'Mahiwagang Sinulid' in 1949, 'Ogganda' in 1964, 'Dagog' in 1967, 'Sphinx' in 1969, all of which were written by Clodualdo del Mundo. In 1991, a retrospective art exhibit was held at the Philamlife Theater, as a tribute to this great Filipino comic artist. Featured in the exhibit were his paintings, and of course, Kulafu original comic art. Francisco Reyes passed away in 1992.