Mar T. Santana


MAR T. SANTANA can claim the distinction of being the illustrator with the most number of komiks novels running at any one time. This attests to the fact that he is one of the most sought-after artists in the industry.

He does not draw those novels by himself, however. During his early years in the business, he did use to illustrate solo. But when the time came that he was no longer able to cope with the ever-increasing demand for his services, he put up an art studio. He took in everal neophyte illustrators and trained them. He now works with them in some sort of assembly-line method, not unlike the system in the bigger animated cartoon studios in the United States. Santana does the preliminary pencil sketches. One of his artists inks the characters. Another does the backgrounds. Still another puts the finishing touches on the drawings. The finished page goes back to Santana for the final polishing. The illustrations that reach the editor’s desk bear the familiar Santana touch: clean, sure brush strokes that are kind to the eyes, simpatico heroes. simpatica heroines, and frightening contravidas.

Santana started his career in the komiks industry in 1950s when he presented some sample illustrations to R.R. Marcelino, then editor of the Extra Komiks and the Romansa Komiks of the Philippine Book Co. Marcelino at once saw the potential in Santana who was then an artist in the art department of the Benipayo Press in downtown Manila. A few suggestions from the editor regarding the physical proportions of his characters and Santana was on his way to becoming one of the best in the craft.

When the Graphic Arts Service, Inc. opened in 1962, Santana was already among the more skilled artists of his generation. GASI commissioned him to illustrate Mars Ravelo’s Garuda for the Aliwan Komiks. Then followed Lastikman and Hudas sa Hudas, both also by Ravelo, for the Pilipino Komiks, Inc. (later became Atlas Publishing Co.)

Santana’s teaming up with Ravelo further boosted his popularity. More novels for the PKI followed. Among the most memorable were The Pig by Ravelo and Cleopakwak and Isang Milyong Piso, Nawawala, both by R.R. Marcelino.

Santana has illustrated more than a hundred short stories and novels. He has worked in tandem with the best writers in the business, aside from Ravelo. With Elena PatronSleeping Beauty, Sa Duyan ng Pagmamahal, My Darling Babies, Child of Mine, Reyna ng Aking Tahanan, among others; with Jim M. FernandezThe Astronaut, Angkan ni Zuma, Mission Jupiter, to name a few; with Carlo J. Caparas – the more memorable ones: Bakekang, Juan Tornado, The Hero, Mong, Andres de Saya, Agatona and Harimanok.

Santana also has several novels written and illustrated by himself. His very first was The Apartment for the Atlas Publishing Co. Among the others were Nilikha, also for Atlas, Baby! for the Ace Publications, Gaano Kahaba ang Magdamag for GASI and Aquatica and Batong Kristal for the Rex Publications. [1]

Published Works