Jesse Santos, Artist, 1928 - 2013
Writer Mark Evanier reports the passing of artist Jesse Santos on April 27, 2013, at the age of 83. Born on June 24, 1928, in the Philippines, Santos’s artistic career began at a young age, painting a mural placed in front of his town’s church at the age of 10 and beginning work as a professional artist by age 14 or 15. He worked as a “sidewalk artist” during World War II, where he drew portraits of Japanese and American soldiers, with the work ultimately drawing the attention of Filipino comics artist Tony Velasquez, which ultimately led to a 20-year career drawing Filipino comics. Santos and writer Damy Velasquez created the comic strip DI 13, becoming a hit in the country and launching several spinoffs.
His initial attempts to do comics work in the United States after emigrating in 1969 failed, forcing a return to working as a sidewalk artist where he was again noticed by comics professionals — this time, by Chase Craig and Del Connell, editors for Gold Key Comics. His best known comics work in this phase of his career includes Dagar the Invincible and The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor. He also worked in animation, with his work most visible in 1992’s The Legend of Prince Valiant, as well as in The Bionic Six, Jem, Blackstar, Dino-Riders, The Dukes, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and Adventures from the Book of Virtues.