'RoméOnkr et Juliette' (Le Journal de Mickey #1053, 1972).

Tenas was a Belgian comic artist, who contributed to several Belgian comic magazines after the Second World War. Together with Rali, he ran a studio that create a great many comic serials for Bravo magazine, as well as the first locally produced Disney stories and illustrations for Mickey Magazine and Le Journal de Mickey. Among Tenas' other (co-)creations were comic stories for Héroïc-Albums, the caveman comic 'Onkr' (1961-1972) for Le Journal de Mickey and the title comic of the Dutch comic magazine Pep (1962-1964).

Cover gags for Le Moustique magazine of 4 and 11 February 1945.

Early life and career
Little is known about the early life or background of Tenas. His real name was Louis Santels, although some sources say Louis Saintels or Louis Santel. Born in 1922, Santels helped his family through World War II by decorating toys, which he then resold. Between February and June In 1945, shortly after the Liberation of Belgium, he created the 'Collection Tommy' with the Brussels publisher Guy Lambert. As the sole artist of this series of small-format comic books, he created about 400 pages in one year, copying American cartoonists like Walt Disney, Fred Harman and Milton Caniff. His main characters were the magazine mascot, an English soldier called Tommy, his dog Snot and a parrot G.I., Bob Hollywood, modelled after Disney's 'José Carioca'. Other creations were 'Inspecteur Parry', 'Atomic-Man', 'Dickson' and 'Youpi'. Still in 1945, the nineteen-year old cartoonist provided his first cover illustrations to Le Moustique, the radio guide published by Éditions Dupuis.

'Les Aventures Sensationnelles de Snot et Bob Hollywood' (Collection Tommy, 1945).

Les Aventures de Monsieur Snot
Between 21 March and 11 August 1946, the newspaper La Libre Belgique ran an absurd newspaper comic by Tenas, titled 'Les Aventures de Monsieur Snot', which carried a copyright byline for the otherwise unknown "Golden Pictures" syndicate. This newspaper serial centers around an Arab fetish sent to Snot by his detective friend Martyn. The object turns out to contain stolen jewelry. Later in the serial, Snot also discovers an old lost treasure in Portugal. The story ends with Tenas addressing the readers directly with the revealing statement: "Dear friends. I recently received in my mail certain letters... some of them presenting me with justified criticisms which retained all my attention. As for those that weren't... I would just say, criticism is easy but art is difficult. I end by thanking my dear readers. Even the critics, because 'who likes well, punishes well!'"

The career of Tenas took a leap when he teamed up with Raoul Livain, AKA Rali, an artist almost twenty years his senior. Between 1946 and 1950, the two men began their collaboration at Bravo!, at the time one of the leading Belgian comic magazines. Replacing Bravo!'s original core team of Jacques Laudy, Edgar P. Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen, Tenas and Rali made a great many serials and illustrations, working in several genres and under several pseudonyms. These included the chivalry series 'Morgana', as well as 'Cyprien Bravo', 'Phil Blue-Eyes', 'Capitaine Hardell', 'Frigopolis', 'Ivanhoé' and an adaptation of the Paul Féval novel 'Le Bossu'. Joining them in their production were the young scriptwriter André-Paul Duchâteau and their art assistant Tibet, who later became longtime staples of Tintin magazine with their detective series 'Ric Hochet'. In 1948, the Tenas-Rali serials 'Capitaine Hardell' and 'Ivanhoé' also ran in the French Pierrot magazine.

Heroic Albums, by Tenas
Buddy Arms - 'Les Gangster du Ring' (Dutch edition). Héroïc-Albums #21, 1948.

Between 1946 and 1949, Tenas also provided comic stories to Héroïc-Albums, a monthly magazine modelled after American comic books. He was one of the earliest creators joining publisher Fernand Cheneval, who originally filled his magazine all by himself. Using the pen name Tony Néro, Tenas drew the 1946 back-up feature 'Ali Riff'. Later, as Tenas and often in collaboration with Rali, he created lead stories of 12 to 13 pages full of hardboiled action and adventure, including the gangster feature 'Buddy Arms', the crime mystery story 'Volcan et Carlos' and the boyscout adventures of 'La Patrouille des Panthères'.

Other Tenas-Rali productions
For the newspaper Le Peuple, Tenas and Rali created 'Pierre Azur, Pilote de Ligne' (6 April-22 July 1948), an aviation comic resembling Milton Caniff's 'Steve Canyon'. The main hero Pierre Azur, an ace pilot and World War II hero, and his friend Bob Toriac have to inaugurate a new air route to India for Condor Air Line, but are confronted with sabotage, attacks by hostile airplanes and kidnapping. In Spirou magazine, Tenas and Rali and their team created the piracy adventure serial 'Le Triangle de Feu' (1952). Using the collective pseudonym D. Aisin, the story was a joint production of the entire team, with André-Paul Duchâteau writing the script, Tibet doing lay-outs and Tenas and Rali providing the finished artwork. Tenas and Rali additionally illustrated text serials in Story, a tabloid comic magazine of Éditions du Pont-Lévis, that was largely filled with American comic stories. Tenas and Rali were also members of La Mine Souriante, an association of humorous artists from several generations, founded in 1928 by the cartoonist and illustrator Marcel Antoine. The group was notable for its playful manifestions, which often made headlines in the press.

'Les Mystères de la Tour Eiffel' (Mickey Magazine #1, 1950).

Mickey Magazine
In 1950, Tenas and Rali joined Pont-Lévis publisher François Prête in the launch of Mickey Magazine, a Belgian Disney magazine published in both a Flemish and a French-language edition. The project was an initiative of Armand Bigle, a Belgian entrepeneur representing Walt Disney Productions in Europe. Appearing for the first time on 14 October 1950, the magazine mostly ran stories reprinted from Disney American comic books. For the production of cover drawings and additional illustrations, as well as the editing of the magazine, a local art studio was set up at 47, Rue du Houblon in Brussels, supervised by Tenas and Rali. In that respect, Tenas and Rali were the first Europeans with an official license to produce Disney art. A couple of decades later, the writing and drawing of Disney comic stories had become mainly an European effort, with the core of the production handled by publishers in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

Already in the first issue of Mickey Magazine, Tenas and Rali's comic serial 'Les Mystères de la Tour Eiffel' (1950-1951) took off, a Paris-centered story in which Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto chase a gang of crooks who were trying to bomb the Eiffel Tower in order to buy it at the price of steel, rebuild it and then sell it to rich collectors. Written by the team's regular scriptwriter André-Paul Duchâteau, the story ran in the first 34 issues of the magazine. In Mickey Magazine's first three issues, Tenas and Rali told Walt Disney's life story in the three-page comic 'L'Étonnante histoire de Walt Disney' (1951). Many of the magazine's original covers and story headers were also designed by Tenas. Mickey Magazine remained in print until late 1959, when it merged with the popular Donald Duck weekly, published in the Netherlands since October 1952.

First Cover of Mickey, by TenasCover for Mickey, by Tenas
Cover drawings for Le Journal de Mickey issues #1 and #5 of 1952.

Le Journal de Mickey
Two years after the Belgian start of Mickey Magazine, Paul Winkler of the Opéra Mundi agency and the publisher Édi-Monde/Hachette launched Le Journal de Mickey in Paris. Originally, it mostly contained American comic material, but again, Tenas and his team were responsible for most of the cover illustrations. Inspired by magazines like Paris Match and U.S. Life, Tenas also did the magazine's original logo design. Additional covers were drawn by Pierre Nicolas, Jacques David, Pierre Jodon and Aline Lecomte. Together with scriptwriter Pierre Fallot, Tenas additionally produced the first French-made comic stories with Mickey Mouse. After a first 14-issues treasure hunt serial, 'Le Tour de France de Mickey' (1952), they launched the time-travel saga 'Mickey à Travers des Siècles' ("Mickey Through the Centuries"), which Mickey travelled through history, while witnessing real-life events and meeting real-life historical characters. Tenas drew the feature in the first six issues of Le Journal de Mickey, after which it was continued for another 26 years by Fallot and artist Pierre Nicolas. For the 1000th issue of Le Journal de Mickey in 1971, Tenas drew one final story with the Disney characters, bringing them to the year 2000 in 'Mickey an 2000'.

Donald Duck as goalkeeper, from Donald Duck #23, 1958, for a long time believed to be drawn by Lex Overeijnder, but presumably by a member of the Belgian Rali-Tenas studio (© Disney).

Mysterious Dutch Donald Duck stories
It is possible that the Rali-Tenas studio was also responsible for two original 'Donald Duck' stories published in the Dutch Donald Duck weekly. These were a story in which Donald becomes a school teacher, published in a give-away issue of 6 March 1954, and one in which Donald is goalkeeper during a soccer match between the Netherlands and Belgium, published in issue #23 of 1954. For a long time, these two stories were attributed to the Dutch artist Lex Overeijnder, who by then had also contributed a couple of cover illustrations to the magazine. However, these credits remained disputed; first of all because of the style differences, but also because the mysterious production code "S.B.W.D.R.T." It is however possible that this code could stand for "Studios Belges Walt Disney Rali-Tenas". Considering that the studio of Rali and Tenas was mentioned in Mickey Magazine as the "Studios Belges" and the fact that the Brussels team was the first in Europe with an official license to produce Disney material, it is possible that these two Dutch stories were indeed produced by Rali and Tenas or one of their co-workers. Their possible involvement with the Dutch weekly however ended already after these two stories, because after that, Endre Lukács began working more regularly on locally produced Dutch Disney comics.

Tenas continued to work for Le Journal de Mickey until well into the 1970s. His best-known creation was the non-Disney comic feature 'Onkr, l'Abonimable Homme des Glaces' ("Onkr, the Abominable Ice Age Man", 1961-1972), about a super-strong caveman, found frozen in Siberian ice by Professors Schmoll and Dugommier. After thawing out, Onkr causes a rampage throughout France, while he is hunted down by two other evil scientists, Zinzin and Moleskine. Later, Onkr and the four scientists make peace and travel back to Siberia, where they discover a whole tribe of Onkrians. Many new episodes followed, during which the heroes encounter all sorts of extravagant creatures. Fourteen episodes were serialized in Journal de Mickey between 1961 and 1972, the first ten written by Jean Malac - pen name of Raymond Calame - and the rest by Yvan Delporte. In 1968 and 1969, 'Onkr' also appeared in Dutch translation in Heintje, the comic paper of grocery store Albert Heijn.

From Pep, by Tenas 1964
'Pep' from Pep #34, 1964.

Through the Opera Mundi agency, Tenas and his regular scriptwriter André-Paul Duchâteau were hired in 1962 to create the mascot for a new Dutch comic magazine, Pep. First published by De Geïllustreerde Pers on 6 October 1962, the magazine was originally promoted as the magazine dedicated to Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse and Hergé's Tintin. During the early years, the magazine ran a mix between comics licensed from Tintin magazine and American stories based on Disney TV series. The only original creation was 'Pep' (1962-1964), Tenas and Duchâteau's lanky hero who appeared with his dog Stef in slapstick-style gags and longer episodes from the second issue on. Even though the character appeared on nearly all of the magazine's early covers, he never really caught on, and disappeared in the second half of 1964.

Later comics
In 1975, Tenas did his last Disney work for Le Journal de Mickey, a series of comic pages for the 'Donaldissimo' contest in collaboration with Disney World in Florida. During the 1970s, Tenas also made caricatures for Ciné Revue magazine. Later that decade, Tenas appeared in the pages of Super Tintin #6 with a short story starring the character Loutopo. Between 1980 and 1981, Tintin magazine his gag and short story series about 'Monsieur Duchemin', an unlucky middle-class man.

Final years and death
Tenas left the comics industry during the 1980s and opened a specialized shop for drawing supplies. Allegedly spending his final years in bad health, Louis Santels died in 2012.

Louis Santels, AKA Tenas. 


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