Combatron: The Galactic Interview

During the 90’s a small blue space warrior named Combatron grazed the pages of Pilipino Funny Komiks, in which it was one of the leading giants in the Philippine comic industry. It’s popularity attracted a lot of fans to the publication and may be the only reason to buy the comics. It was 1st published March 20, 1992 until its last issue in December 15, 1997.

Its abrupt end made not only me disappointed, but including the thousands of fans who religiously followed his adventures, exploits, and struggles every week to save the Earth from metallic maniacs and other vile threats that will destroy humanity.

Years after, I pondered on what happened to the author who made this action packed series. My curiosity began to get more intense and my burning desire to know more about Combatron got the better of me and I finally decided to look for him- Berlin Manalaysay, the man who was responsible for the creation of this 90’s relic. Using the power of social media (good old FB!), I was able to locate him and asked him for an interview, in which he graciously accepted.

funny7181
First issue of Combatron

DarkdaemonPK2:
Thank you so much Mr. Manalysay for granting us today with this exclusive interview. To begin with, can you please tell us a little something about yourself and how were you able apply for a position in Funny Komiks as a comic artist?

Berlin Manalaysay
I was a student when I started for FK. While others had jobs at Mcdo or Jollibee… was lucky enough to be neighbors with the great Pat V. Reyes. Writter of Niknok. She introduced me to comics. Her son was my best friend and we love to draw.

DarkdaemonPK2:
So you applied for the position of comic artist when you were still a student. Were you attending college back then or was still on your last years of high school?

Berlin Manalaysay
I started 4th year HS. Doing 1 pagers. Then before UST started with Combatron.

DarkdaemonPK2:
You mentioned Pat Reyes introduced you to the world of comics. Question: 1) how were you able to apply as a comic artist in Funny Komiks? And 2) when you were drawing the comic strips, were you making it on the actual office or were you drawing it at home or a different place, and then showing it to the editors in the office during the deadline?

Berlin Manalaysay
I’m best friends with Pat Reyes son, Michael Oniate [Author of Tomas and Kulas and Little Ninja]. I got recommended. They saw my work. They loved it so I got commissioned to do Combatron at home and pass before the deadline.

DarkdaemonPK2:
Thank you for that information. Going now to the main event, what inspired (or what made you decide) you to make a comics w/c is a science fiction and action genre?

Berlin Manalaysay
It’s my hero mentality. I always wanted to be the one who saves the day. Sci-Fi ‘cause of my Japanese anime influence growing up watching Voltes 5 and playing video games. Nuff said wuth that hahaha.

DarkdaemonPK2:
Ah, I see. So those influenced you to choose that genre. Most comic artists do envision themselves as the main protagonist in w/c it is also their alter ego. Mr. Manalaysay we are almost at the checkpoint of this interview. Hang in there! (He he…)

You said about playing video games earlier. Where you playing Rockman (Mega Man) before on the Famicom?
*NES in U.S.

Berlin Manalaysay
Yes!!! Love that game! Played it till sun up! Hahaha checkpoint!

DarkdaemonPK2:
I also like that game. I played the games from Rockman 1-8. The reason I asked that is because there have been some speculation, especially when I was younger, that Combatron’s design was influenced by that game. I understand you might have been asked about this several times in the past but we want to hear it straight from the creator: “Was Combatron’s design purely original or was it based from Rockman?”

(Pa epekna biro langpoito. “Gusto nyopobang E-can bago sagotin yung tanong? Pakukuha lang po ako kay Rush dyan lang sa tindahan.”)

Berlin Manalaysay
Hahahaha! It’s Influenced a lot by Rockman. I was playing it when I created Combatron. It is also influenced by Voltes 5 and by WWE. I’ve had more original characters but this one was a combination of all the things I loved. And I’m glad Pinoys loved Combatron too.

ouch
Rockman + Voltes V + WWE = Combatron

DarkdaemonPK2:
I really love Combatron when it was still being published by Funny Komiks although I was late to join and experience his adventures. I think I got my 1st issue of FK way back 1994.

I was not formally introduced to the Rockman games until I reached high school, the same time where Combatron was already removed from the circulation so I personally did not think about Combatron being copied or influenced from Rockman. Congratulations Mr. Manalaysay! You just successfully reached the checkpoint w/o losing a single life! Ya think you can beat the boss that is waiting at the end of this twisted stage? Just to inform you, it is NOT ME. Hehehe, just kidding.

Question: Abodawn was the first major villain in the series and alongside Alchitran, w/c is like a henchman of sorts, wanted to conquer Earth to enslave the population. Was the reason behind this was to secure a new place for the denizens of Omnicron since their home planet was having some sort of issues, or it was just that Abodawn is a ruthless, megalomaniac who just wants to expand his empire?

Berlin Manalaysay
Abodawn is just the lesser bad guy. A setup bad guy for the big bad one. Alchitran who became Death Metal!

DarkdaemonPK2:
So you consider Abodawn only as a small fry compared to the other villains we all knew and awed? Nonetheless, he was a formidable foe for our little blue boy. But how about my other question? What was Abodawn’s motive for attempting to conquer Earth? While you are looking into that, my impression about Alchitran is that he had the ego the size of Omnicron because of his desire to replace its current leader. We, [the readers] all knew that he was no match for Abodawn, but you gotta give credit for his bravery and cunning, although he died in the hands of the latter.

Berlin Manalaysay
Well you could say that he had this anal purpose of getting rid of others that might get in his way of being the baddest in the galaxy. Kinda WWE if you ask me. King of the Ring thing. Which was kinda low also in the grander scheme of things. Hahahahaaha?

DarkdaemonPK2:
I agree. It is low compared to Mega Death’s motive and now I can safely say both he (Abodawn) and Alchitran now share a common trait: they have egos the size of Omnicron. They were bad guys, but not bad enough!! I want something more sinister!!

Before we go with the other metallic bad guys in our menu, let’s go first with the Earth forces, in chronological appearance.

Question: Askal was your typical loyal robotic canine companion for our blue boy. Can you tell us something about him (what you like about him, any trivias, etc) and why was he killed (or scrapped) to be replaced by Dobbernaught? (Sorry, I forgot how “Dobbernaut” is spelled).

Berlin Manalaysay
Askal ( Asong Mekanikal ) was my true askal dog. When it died I also terminated the character. The editor freaked out. Hahaha! Then I said, “We have to teach children about losing someone they love.” She went with and from there, everything went epic. Heck, The fan mail I got Quadrupled! My Dad bought a Doberman for us to replace my dead askal dog. Thus, Dobbernaut!

Askal
Combatron’s first canine companion, Askal.

DarkdaemonPK2:
I think Askal had more character compared to his successor because he can project it through his face because we can see his eyes (like what he was actual feeling). And he had missiles galore (like he has a small frame but packs a lethal punch) to boot. Well, my deepest condolences to both your former dog and Askal.

Question: General Kipper (or was it spelled like Keeper?) was part of the original Earth forces who fought alongside the good guys. How were you able to conceive him as a character (was he based from someone? Any trivias about him?)? Also he sacrificed his life to defeat Abyss, a huge mechanical dragon of sorts who almost defeated the good guys to oblivion. Why was he also killed-off in the story?

Berlin Manalaysay
Gen. Kipper is a friend of mine (He is always in the house during summer for beer, smokes and tambay ). He requested to be included in the series and wanted also a dramatic death. I just gave in to that request. Hahahaahaha!

general kipper
General Kipper

DarkdaemonPK2:
And what a dramatic death it was, indeed! Doing a kamikaze attack to kill Abyss was epic. And I always thought Kipper was based on Gen. Douglas MacArthur. RIP great general of the Earth Forces. By the way, we already 70% finished with the interview, Mr. Manalaysay! Thank you for your patience!!

Question: Axel and Metalika, 2 of Combatron’s greatest allies before they met their end at the hands of Mega Death, like my previous questions, how were you able to conceive them before creation? Were they based from someone, were they original designs, and what was the reason why they got chopped of the story, via grizzly deaths?

Berlin Manalaysay
They are original. Axel is my UST FA friend. Metalika based on my UST friend that became my GF. We fell apart so I had to kill em. Metalika and I split up so had to kill ‘em. Hahahahahahaha!

metal
Metalika
Axell
Axel

DarkdaemonPK2:
What?? That was just it? You chopped of both because you split with your GF? You are one nasty person, you. You could have spared at least one of them in the aftermath. I can comprehend why Metalika died when she used her Supernova attack while being held captive in Megadeath’s hand, but Axel’s death was so sad and fast, he just got swallowed whole by a raging giant hurricane artificially made by Mega Death. Well anyway, RIP again beloved space warriors, courtesy of the author.

Question: Last on the list of the good guys… are Pyrolactus and Mechababe. Pyrolactus joined the fight against MD not only because if him being a “giant” threat, but because they consider Metalika as a goddess. Why are those aliens worshipping Metalika? Is it because Metalika’s power is attributed to fire or was it just some other reason you did not flesh out in the story. Also Mechababe joined after the destruction of MD, anything you want to share about her?

Berlin Manalaysay
Yes you are right about that and Metalika. Mecha Babe was a new GF so I had a character made so she doesn’t become insecure. Plus it’s a cool story too. Even Cyborgs gets a second chance at a relationship hahahahaha!

mb
Mechababe

DarkdaemonPK2:
Is “Mechababe” still with you or no?

Berlin Manalaysay
Yeah every character is based on my life or influence. I married Mechababe and we have 3 cyborgs now. LOL! Dont mind the Pyro guy. He was just there for comedy.

DarkdaemonPK2:
Understood. We are now nearing 80% completion Mr. Manalaysay! I must say the revelations I have learned today was quite the surprise.

And now the most awaited question, about Death Metal!

death-metal
Deathmetal: Combatron’s greatest foe

How did you create a character so bad, every Combatron fan likes him so much? Also, what is the connection of him and comets? And why is it that he can even fight death, like he was the master of death, or he is even death himself??

Berlin Manalaysay
Hahahaahaha! He is Undertaker inspired. A comet actually transformed him into Death Metal which was sent by Mega death. Death Metal can be killed but will be revealed in the true ending I am currently making now.

DarkdaemonPK2:
I thought so. How about Mega Death? What is the concept behind his creation? Did you based him from Unicron from Transformers or was he an original idea?

Berlin Manalaysay
Yes, Unicron sooooooo cooool!

DarkdaemonPK2:
Well, that would explain where the beard came from. But unlike Unicron, Megadeath needed all 5 planets to complete his body, and that would include Gahenus, the junk yard/graveyard/scrap yard planet w/c eventually became Deathmetal’s base planet. Why need 5 planets and what is the origin behind that megalomaniac giant robot?

Berlin Manalaysay
He is the God of Robots hahahaha! Or so he thinks. 5 planets to join together is cool. Unicron just 1 planet. hahahaha! Don’t ya think?

DarkdaemonPK2:
Well, that’s what all Megalomaniacs think, for me (I was referring to MegaDeath on this part). Was his goal total galactic conquest?

I think it is cool that he is composed of 5 planets. He’s got to work hard to look for his parts so that when he is already complete, he can savor whatever he wants to do in the universe, until blue boy decimates him via Galactic Phoenix.

Berlin Manalaysay
Since MegaDeath considers himself a God thats what it is. See a cockroach. You get annoyed. You step on it. Threat eliminated and he feels like a god again.

IMG_20160611_0002
Mega Death was based on Unicron; both are gigantic and both have beards

DarkdaemonPK2:
He sure is out of whack then. We are nearing the end! 90% complete.

Question: Please tell us something about the Galactic Phoenix, the ultimate finisher of our beloved blue boy.

GP 1GP 2

GP3
Galactic Phoenix!!!

Berlin Manalaysay
It will be revealed in the true ending.

DarkdaemonPK2:
Ahh… such secrets you keep from us Mr. Manalaysay! I guess we just have to wait. Last 2 questions before we go to the last event…

Question: Have you experienced any mental block or any lack of new ideas when you were still writing the script? And, has your editor disapproved any scripts as far as you can remember?

Berlin Manalaysay
Never. There is always a story to tell. There are always friends to fill in. My brother also helps! The editor doesn’t have a choice. Combatron was a hit.

DarkdaemonPK2:
Thank you for that. And now the last burning questions.

Question: Who owns the rights to Combatron as of now: you or Funny Komiks (Islas Filipinas Publishing Co.)?

Berlin Manalaysay
Islas DID. Now it is legally mine. By law and by patent pending. Nice eh? Dad is a lawyer you see.

DarkdaemonPK2:
Did FK disputed the case fiercely w/ a fight ala WWE with matching “hell in a cell” ring match, or was it settled peacefully?

Berlin Manalaysay
No settlement coz they don’t exist anymore.

DarkdaemonPK2:
FK or the publishing company?

Berlin Manalaysay
Islas Pilipinas.

DarkdaemonPK2:
Question: Since you already have the rights to Combatron, has it ever crossed your mind to publish the previous issues in an anthology? An example of this is Pol Medina junior in which he compiles the strips in a book he publishes.

Berlin Manalaysay
Yes it did. Jun Dayo is making a redraw actually.

DarkdaemonPK2:
Hopefully with the “true ending” that you are making, all the mysteries will be cleared.

Final question: What happened way back 1998 when the series suddenly disappeared? It did return however, it was continued by someone whose art style was not even close to yours. According to the urban myth you had a fight with the publication, others say the series was pulled out due to violence, etc. but we want to hear it from the author directly: “What happened during 1998?”

Berlin Manalaysay
Hahaha not pulled out! I had to work for an Advertising Agency. Fell in love with the work. Combatron had to take a back seat. But Now the Fans just reincarnated him. I give thanks to you guys… Really.

And there you have it. We formally conclude this interview since Mr. Manalaysay is busy with his job so we need to cut this short. I would like to thank everyone who read this. The author does not want to reveal much about some things I really want to know since he will publish the “real ending” to the series. Perhaps I will do a 2nd interview in the future but for now, I might just do some other important things at the moment.

This is DarkdaemonPK2, and I’m outta here!

-DarkdaemonPK2

Bonus Page:

IMG_20160113_0001
Art by Eljhones “El Filii nuts” Yula
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