Rafael Astarita attended the High School of Industrial Arts in New York City, the Grand Central School of Art and the Pratt Institute. A litographer, painter and illustrator, he has done comic book art from the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. He initially worked through the Chesler Studios on Centaur features like 'Ad-ventures', 'Daniel Boone', 'Boomerang', 'Trailer Triggers' and 'Round Table Adventures'. He was also present in the early National/DC titles with 'Allain de Beaufort' and 'King Arthur'.
During the 1940s, Astarita's art appeared in Fiction House titles like Wings Comics, Planet Comics, Rangers Comics, Jumbo Comics and Jungle Comics, for which he did features like 'Captain Terry Thunder', 'Futura', 'Hooks Devlin', 'Ghost Squadron', 'Jan of the Jungle', 'Kaanga', 'Auro' and 'Tabu'. He was the art director for Ned Pines' Standard line of comics in the mid to late 1940s. Additional credits are Fawcett's 'Captain Venture' and 'Hunchback' and crime, romance, horror and western features for Orbit Publications, St. John Publishing and Avon Comics. Later on, he has illustrated the 'Picture World Encyclopedia', as well as pulps under the name John Martin.