Rafael Kayanan

Rafael Kayanan
Born Manila
Nationality American
Area(s) Penciller, Inker
Notable works
The Fury of Firestorm
Chiaroscuro: The Life and Times of Leonardo Da Vinci

Rafael Kayanan is a Filipino-born naturalised American comic book artist and Filipino Martial Arts master in the Sayoc Kali system.



Rafael Kayanan stated in a 2007 interview that he "grew up with Filipino Komiks masters like Alcala, Coching, and Redondo mixed in with Kirby, Sy Barry's The Phantom, Kubert's Tarzan, and Hal Foster's Prince Valiant. From there I discovered Barry Winsor-Smith, Starlin, Adams, Wrightson, and Gulacy in the 70's. I copied and then drew my own stories on the backs of old xeroxes my mom would bring home from work."[1]

He has illustrated for every major comic book publisher. His most notable work has been on Marvel Comics' Conan the Adventurer, Acclaim Comics' Turok, and DC Comics' Firestorm and America vs. the Justice Society.[2] He also inked the Eisner Award-nominated series Chiaroscuro: The Life and Times of Leonardo Da Vinci for Vertigo.

Kayanan has illustrated concept designs for comic book, film and game companies.[3] During the late 1990s, he was the creator and art director for Cross Plains Comics featuring the pulp magazine characters created by Robert E. Howard. Kayanan developed concept designs for Nintendo's Turok: Dinosaur Hunter II video game. He currently continues to do work for Topps Cards on licenses such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.

Other titles he has worked on include The Amazing Spider-Man, Star Wars, Magic: The Gathering, and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight.[4][5]

Kayanan's art is known for its rapid tempo, storytelling pace and layered depth. Much thought is evident in the choreography of dynamic action on every page. His slick and precise usage of shadows to define anatomy and emotion is as proficient as any of the longtime masters of the craft.[6]

Additional comic book work can be found in Dark Horse Comics' Conan #39,[1] Annihilation,[7] and fantasy novelist R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt, Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons from Devil's Due Publishing.

During his collaboration with writer Gerry Conway on DC's The Fury of Firestorm series in 1984, Kayanan co-created two characters which have appeared in live-action media in the 2010s. The supporting character Felicity Smoak on The CW television series Arrow debuted in The Fury of Firestorm #23 (May 1984).[8] The supervillain Slipknot first appeared in The Fury of Firestorm #28 (October 1984) and appeared in the Suicide Squad film in 2016.[9]

Film and television

Kayanan is a Master-level edged weapons (knife, sword, tomahawk) expert and instructor in Sayoc Kali. This rare combination of a visual and martial artist, has led to projects which utilize both skills to illustrate fight storyboards for film and TV. Kayanan choreographed and trained the actors, in William Friedkin's The Hunted starring Benicio del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones.[10] He also trained actor Sam Rockwell for director George Clooney's film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Kayanan was a development artist, fight trainer and weapons consultant for Paramount Pictures adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars. His art was used for the CBS tv show NCIS: Los Angeles. Kayanan designed fights for the main cast of LL Cool J, Chris O' Donnell, Daniela Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen, as well as special guest stars Danny Trejo,[11] Ernie Reyes, Jr.,[12] and Daniel Henney.[13] Kayanan was the technical advisor for the close quarter fights inside the airplane of the film Non-Stop starring Liam Neeson.

Rafael Kayanan was a set illustrator and story board artist for the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Broadway show, directed by Julie Taymor with music created by Bono and the Edge.

Kayanan worked on concept illustration for the films Immortals.[14][15] and Mirror, Mirror both directed by Tarsem Singh from Relativity Media, and the related graphic novel anthology Immortals: Gods and Heroes published by Archaia.

Other projects include the Discovery TV show Lone Target, also known internationally as Manhunt, starring former Navy SEAL Joel Lambert where the Kayanan designed RnD Hawk, Bontoc and Madumi Sayoc Kali-Daniel Winkler knives were prominently featured.[16]


As artist unless otherwise noted


Archaia Entertainment

  • Immortals: Gods and Heroes (2011)

Cross Plains Comics

  • Robert E. Howard: A Short Biography #1 (1999)
  • Robert E. Howard: Myth Maker #1 (1999)

Dark Horse Comics

Devil's Due

  • Worlds of Dungeons and Dragons (2008)

DC Comics


Eclipse Comics

  • Phaze #1-2 (1988)

First Comics

  • Hawkmoon: The Jewel in the Skull #1-4 (1986)
  • Hawkmoon: The Mad God's Amulet #1-4 (1987)
  • Hawkmoon: The Runestaff #1-4 (1988)
  • Hawkmoon:The Sword of Dawn #1-4 (1987-1988)

Image Comics

Marvel Comics

Smart Pop




  1. 1 2 Atchison, Lee (April 1, 2007). "Bringing Conan to Life". Sequart Organization.
  2. Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. In this limited series by writer Roy Thomas and penciler Rafael Kayanan, the JSA was taken to trial following a modern-day witchhunt.
  3. "Rafael Kayanan". Lambiek Comiclopedia. December 17, 2006. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. He illustrated for all the major US comics companies and produced development art, storyboards and character designs for computer games, TV, film and toylines.
  4. Rafael Kayanan at the Grand Comics Database
  5. Zablo, Craig (October 17, 2004). "First Blood". Stallonezone. Archived from the original on March 25, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2006.
  6. Moy, Albert (n.d.). "Rafael Kayanan". Albertmoy.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2006.
  7. Richards, Dave (October 5, 2007). "Annihilation Makes Things Civil: Hine talks What If? Annihilation". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  8. Wilson, Matt D. (July 1, 2013). "Gerry Conway Starts Blog Aimed At Fair Compensation For DC Character Creators". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Gerry Conway, the writer who co-created the character with artist Rafael Kayanan in a 1984 issue of Firestorm.
  9. White, James (October 28, 2015). "From Slipknot To Captain Boomering (And Back Again): Meet The Suicide Squad". Empire. Archived from the original on October 30, 2015. Nothing to do with the band, his alter ego is Christopher Weiss and he was created by Gerry Conway and Rafael Kayanan in 1984.
  10. Drape, Steven (May 2003). "The Hunted". Black Belt. Active Interest Media: 61–65.
  11. Gaddam, Shridevi (December 4, 2013). "5x15 Tuhon". NCIS: LA Episode Summary and Analysis. Archived from the original on December 25, 2014. Her Father’s Knife which was specially forged by DK’s friend Rafael Kayanan.
  12. Frith, Vanessa (November 21, 2013). "NCIS: LA Season 5 Spoilers: Densi Drama Plays Out With Between Intense Fight Scenes In "Frozen Lake"". Enstarz.com. Archived from the original on April 30, 2016. The CBS actors had to log quite a few hours with the show's fight director, Rafael Kayanan
  13. Gaddam, Shridevi (February 24, 2014). "5x21 Three Hearts". NCIS: LA Episode Summary and Analysis. Archived from the original on December 25, 2014.
  14. Goldstein, Patrick (June 26, 2007). "A 'Fall' no one wants to take". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  15. Wise, Damon (October 4, 2008). "Final fantasy". London, United Kingdom: The Guardian. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016.
  16. Estela, Kevin (November 25, 2014). "The Madumi Knife by Winkler Knives". JoelLambert.com. Archived from the original on March 28, 2016. Designed by Master Bladesmith Daniel Winkler and Sayoc Kali Master Level Instructor Tuhon Rafael Kayanan, the Madumi belt knife is a potent compact belt knife perfectly suited for most survival tasks.

External links

Preceded by
Gene Colan
The Fury of Firestorm artist
Succeeded by
George Tuska
Preceded by
Pat Broderick
Captain Atom artist
Succeeded by
Colleen Doran
Preceded by
Joe Bennett
The Amazing Spider-Man artist
Succeeded by
John Byrne
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