José Zabala-Santos was a successful cartoonist from the Philippines. He was born in Calumpit Balucan from parents of humble origins. He spent most of his childhood in Malabon. In college, he entered the U.P School of Fine Arts where he met and befriended another cartoonist, Francisco Reyes. By 1935, Zabala Santos did his first cartoons with the character 'Sianog Sano' for the comics section in Liwayway. In the following years, he would create some of the most popular characters in Filipino cartoon history, such as 'Popoy' and 'Lukas Malakas'.
He was also the originator of the 'Slice of Life' cartoon page that was popularized by his pupil Larry Alcala. After the war, Zabala-Santos joined the creative team of Halakhak Komiks, where he contributed covers and a "Popoy-like" character named Pinoy. In later years, when Martial Law was imposed on the country by President Marcos, Zabala-Santos retired from cartooning in comics. He went to work with the Philippine Manufacturing Company that later became Procter and Gamble.