The Chilean painter and artist Manuel Cárdenas Arce is best known for his cover paintings for the El Siniestro Dr. Mortis review. He studied Fine Arts at the University of Chile, and after three years of studies, he decided to become a comics artist. His first professional comics work was replacing the artist Alfredo Adduard in La Nación during his illness, but he made his actual debut in El Mercurio in 1963-64.
By the end of 1964, he joined the Editorial Zig Zag, where he started out assisting Mario Igor. Cárdenas Arce cooperated on a series of comics about the history of Chile with Igor and the scriptwriter Jorge Inostrosa. He also participated in the magazine Jungla, where he did covers and illustrations, and Far West, for which he drew 'Ray Hunter'.
When Zig Zag became Quimantú, Cárdenas moved over to Mampato magazine, and did contributions to Pincel. In Mampato, he illustrated comics like 'La Mosca' and 'El Devorador de Hombres'. He did interiors for 'Dr Mortis', a series for which he was already the main cover artist. He also drew for Heidi and He Man, and for the educational books of Santillana.
In the 1970s, Cárdenas switched to more caricatural drawing. During this period, he drew for the British market and the magazine Jappening. For La Tercera, he drew 'El Pirata' in 1980, and in the following years, he worked for the Argentine Los Transformer magazine, and for El Chavo del Ocho.