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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Malang the cartoonist

Acclaimed colorist exhibits the works of his artistic roots

Mauro Malang Santos, more popularly known as “Malang,” is recognized for his trademark paintings depicting such favorite subjects as women vendors and cityscapes. An acclaimed colorist, his canvases exude cheer and gaiety with bursts of orange, yellow, red, green and a profusion of other bright hues.
Malang’s exceptional work as a painter actually has a solid foundation in his earlier—but just as prolific—cartooning career. As a multitasking layout artist, illustrator and designer of the Evening Chronicle’s This Week magazine starting in 1947, Malang would render innumerable drawings for the publication and later create several widely followed cartoon strips.
This two-decade stretch in the artist’s life is the subject of an exhibit titled The Forgotten Malang: A Career in Cartoons. Conceptualized by Project Art, the exhibit opened on February 23 2007 at the Philamlife Lobby on UN Avenue, Manila, and will be on view until March 30.

Philamlife is hosting The Forgotten Malang as part of its 60th anniversary celebration and its corporate commitment to support the arts.
By tracing his artistic roots, the exhibit reintroduces Malang to the public, particularly to younger audiences, and shows how these roots prepared him for his eventual transition into a full-fledged painter.
Malang says that his 20-year newspaper experience honed his graphic skills, while having a daily deadline taught him to be disciplined and to be more observant of things that went on around him as sources of ideas for his cartoons.
The Philamlife exhibit will feature selections of the various cartoon strips that Malang made from 1947 to 1967, including: “Kosme the Cop,” the adventures of a city policeman as he walks his beat; “Kosme the Cop [Retired],” about the henpecked husband who gets into all sorts of scrapes; “Chain-Gang Charlie,” the convict who has a thousand and one uses for his ball and chain; and “Bellzebub,” the devil whose tail an indispensable accessory. There are also samples of Malang’s menagerie, a one-page wordless “village-scape” series that appeared in the Weekly Graphic. In all these works, Malang demonstrated his innate sense of humor and a remarkable knack for the sight gag.

Also showcased are some of the artist’s drawings for a regular column in This Week magazine called “That’s the Law,” illustrating interesting ordinances; and for fiction features written by the likes of Carlos Bulosan and S.V. Espistola.
A trivia portion shares little-known tidbits about Malang—among them, that he opened in 1955 The Bughouse, the country’s first cartoon gallery, along with several artist-colleagues.
The exhibit will also have a Cartoon Corner where visitors can try their hand in drawing. Guests may also step into a life-size “cartoon strip” with cut-out faces featuring Kosme and his wife.
The Forgotten Malang is meant to be a fun and educational exhibit, aimed at viewers of all ages. While it is a trip down memory lane in an artist’s life, it also celebrates humor that transcends the ages.
Indeed, five decades later, many of Malang’s cartoon strips remain as amusing as when they were first drawn for a different generation of readers. But even if they come from another era, these strips are certain to tickle one’s funny bones, hence proving the enduring quality of the visual pun and the timeless wit of the person who made it his specialty.

Today, with the simple lines and graphic compositions found in many of his works, it is quite obvious that the cartoonist in Malang somehow still prevails.

Viewing hours for The Forgotten Malang: A Career in Cartoons are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays to Fridays; and 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Saturdays. For inquiries, text or call (0917) 880-4754, or e-mail

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