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Friday, October 28, 2005

DC's REAL ORIGIN

Okey, okey. If it’ll make you happy. I’ll now make a confession. I did too, have a source for Devil Car. It was an old, old black and white film which I saw during my younger days on the late show on TV. Or was it in color and just our TV set which was still only in black and white? I can’t recall. Anyway, it was an old fashioned horror flick called “THE HEARSE”. It was about an antiquated black funeral car, plain and simple, that somehow got possessed by evil, became “alive”, and started killing anyone who happened to cross its path. I don’t even remember how the story itself ran. So you see, it was really just the idea of the Hearse’s morbid qualities that I “borrowed”, changed everything else, and came up with my own story. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I found out that Knight Rider or Christine – or maybe even both—might also have been “inspired” by “The Hearse”.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Who's the copycat...er Copy Car?

WHO’S THE COPYCAT…er, COPYCAR?

People often ask me if it really wasn’t from “KNIGHT RIDER” that I derived the idea of Devil Car. For those of you who weren’t around yet then, or who don’t remember anymore, ‘Knight Rider” was a weekly American action TV serial which hit it off big with televiewers, locally. The reason for the comparison between the TV show and my comics novel was obvious—Knight Rider ( or specifically the Trans Am model car known as the K.I.T.T.) was also an all-black, fast and powerful looking one-of-a-kind sportscar that had a lot of surprising gimmicks. But there the similarity ended. Whereas Knight Rider’s K.I.T.T. derived its gimmicks and powers TECHNOLOGICALLY, Devil Car derived its own from the SUPERNATURAL. And, although K.I.T.T. could also run around and do whatever deed there was without a driver at the wheel, it was able to do so only through remote control. With Devil Car however, nobody knew who or what was behind its wheel. K.I.T.T. had a driver, David Hasselhoff’s “Michael Knight” character. Hasselhoff first became popular in the Knight Rider TV series before moving on to the real biggie he made which was of course “Baywatch”. Anyway, I’ll tell you why I couldn’t have picked the idea of Devil Car from Knight Rider. Its because although I don’t remember anymore when exactly the first episode of that TV serial premiered, I’m sure about the date of my Devil Car novel was first published: December 18, 1982. And Knight Rider, to my knowledge, was released much later—of this I’m also sure.
Another material from yet another medium was also compared to Devil Car: “Christine”, a pocketbook bestseller by no less than the Amewrican master of Horror STEPHEN KING which had also been turned into a movie. “Christine” was King’s name for his own version of a similarly accursed and evil possessed car. He established the setting of his story in the 1950’s while mine was in the 1980s. King’s stage was in a small town while mine was in the city. In order to be in concert with these contrasting backgrounds, it couldn’t be helped that Devil Car came out with more intriguing characteristics than “Christine” and got exploited to the hilt in far more complex scenes. And again, if the time records were dug up, they would show that my novel was first to come out in print. Maybe the great Stephen King lifted his idea from mine? (Hey, just kidding, okey? I myself am a fan of the guy!)

The Remarkable Replacement




Lan turned out to be a very fast learner, a fearless experimenter, and a stickler to the story’s panel “guides” (instructions of the writer on what the artist should draw per scene or frame). We hit it off immediately as a team. Devil Car became even more popular obviously because of his inspired and innovative artistic presentations. And, by the time we finished the novel at chapter 150 from the 79th issue he picked it up from, he had become one of the most sought-after serial illustrators in the business. Lan and I did several other all GASI hit novels, among them ‘The Yum-Yum” in 1986 also in Holiday Komiks, “Twilight People” likewise in ’86 in Pinoy Komiks, then the reprise “Devil Car, The Return” again in Holiday in ’88, “Zortija” in 1990 in Thunder Komiks, and finally ‘House of Horror” in the mid-90’s in Aliwan Komiks. “Devil Car, the Return” like its predecessor, also became a certified hit though no longer as lengthy—this time I ran it for only an even 70 chapters.

As for Lan Medina, there was no looking back, from that eventful day I gave him his first real break. He just kept going at it, and not even the death of the local comics industry has stopped him from continuously doing the work he loves and knows best. To this day he still keeps dishing out those superb illustrations of his; the only difference is that he now does it for DC Comics and other dollar-earning U.S. comics publications. And by the way, not so very long ago Lan even won the “Will Eisner Award” a prize of recognition they give away in the States to the most outstanding comics illustrators—worldwide. Not bad for a kid who started out in the business merely as a replacement

Beginner's Luck




…which was the lucky day for a certain very young, very talented, but still very inexperienced artist. ‘Vic”, Cescil Torres, another GASI “youngblood” staffer and newly appointed editor of their most prestigious comics-magazine Aliwan Komiks, said to me “How would you like to take a chance on this new artist we’re trying to develop? His name is LAN MEDINA and though he’s still a beginner, he’s an exceptional one. He’s really very good and I think his style will be perfect for your Devil Car.”

“Hmm” I replied, not having really seen any of Lan’s drawings yet at that time, “you must have a lot of faith indeed on this kid for you to recommend him so fearlessly in such a major project.”

“Its not just me,” Cescil explained. ‘Ollie and Mrs. Paguio are both very much impressed with this newcomer’s work. I’m the one who sort of “discovered” Lan first and that’s why I’m playing advocate in his behalf. But Ollie says he’ll approve of Lan’s teaming up with you should you agree to try him, and Mrs. Paguio in fact encourages the idea. But then of course, this is just if you still don’t have any other replacement in mind yet for Carl.”

Cescil then showed me some of Lan’s short story illustrations and they were indeed outstanding work for a newcomer. Novice or not, he sure looked ready to take on a novel already. I consented, on the spot, to try him as my new teammate for Devil Car. Cescil was delighted. A thing like that was unheard of; no top rate comics novelist risked putting his weekly serial in the hands of just any artist, let alone a still untested and virtually unknown one. In my case though, I thought I could afford to take that gamble: First, one look at Lan’s work and as I said, I immediately saw that he indeed had a lot of potential; Second, I thought that if he was good enough for Ollie and Mrs. Paguio, then he was good enough for me; and lastly, let me tell you that in that little world of ours, as in every other area in life, playing a bit of POLITICS was unavoidable if you were smart and wanted to get ahead. Well, I shrewdly foresaw that Cescil was going to be an important player in the GASI editorial hierarchy in the days to come, and it wouldn’t hurt to get in her good graces early in the game, would it? So I thought I was doing her a favor by acceeding to her suggestion. In the end though, I realized that it wasn’t Cescil—but actually myself and Devil Car--- whom I had done a favor by acquiring the services of Lan.

Engine Troble

ENGINE TROUBLE

Let me explain this “rate” thing a bit. Back then, at no time at all were there ever any comics writers or artists who were salaried employees of any publication. They referred to us as ‘contributors” and that meant: freelancers who were paid a certain amount per page for our works that were published, at differing individual “rates”. Some contributors had the same rates of course. But, depending on several factors, the remunerations of most were higher than the payments of some and lower than those of others. Everything was usually just fine and cozy between the contributor and the comics managements (with an “s” because those rivaling publications were all alike when it came to this aspect). But the trouble always started though whenever a writer or illustrator attempted to ask for an “adjustment” of his or her present rate to a higher amount. Said managements always seemed to take this simple practical request of a contributor as a declaration of war! Seeking a better deal for yourself with those tight-fisted misers was really a very frustrating thing, and it was all in the matter of right timing; sometimes you got away with it, more often though you didn’t. At times it even backfired on you, like it did on Carl. I think he was disappointed that GASI hadn’t made a move voluntarily to give him a rate increase despite the huge success of our team-up in Devil Car, so he threatened to quit as illustrator for the novel if they didn’t give him a fatter paycheck. Wrong timing! Carl had decided to stop drawing Devil Car on its 78th chapter, when it was perhaps at its strongest and was then being driven more just by its own momentum. It already had a vise-like grip on the interest of its readers by then, and a change in its visual form wouldn’t really have mattered very much to them any more at that point. I think the GASI management tried to placate Carl by telling him that rate increases (not only his) were indeed forthcoming but he had to be a little more patient as they still had to deliberate on it. But the illustrator obviously had grown tired of waiting and listening to their B.S. and proceeded to make good his threat…

The Original Co-Pilot




In this regard, Devil Car was lucky. I was able to get as my illustrator for the said novel, KARL COMENDADOR, one of the busier artists in those days with whom I had already teamed up in past several projects. We went back a long way. We first met at Nestor Redondo’s ARES PUBLICATIONS in 1970, where I initially started out as a short story writer-illustrator ( Yes Virginia, yours truly also gave illustrating a shot, but found it a bit too arduous for my taste). Then it was in 1972 I think, when I asked Karl to be my artist when Mars Ravelo commissioned me to write a novel in his name, entitled “Brava”. (And, oh yes too Virginia, Mr. Ravelo did make use then of a few ghostwriters in several of his works, to help lighten his already heavy workload and allow him to meet his numerous deadlines.) Afterwards Karl and I did “Bandidos” in ’77 for ATLAS, “Planeta ng Pitong Araw” in 1980 for AFFILIATED PUBLICATIONS, and “Baniaga” in ’81 for ACE PUBLICATIONS, all solely my own novels and all becoming acknowledged hits. Karl and I were undoubtedly getting better and better in our respective crafts during all those collaborations, that we were probably already at our peak by the time we teamed up again in Devil Car. This, and the fact that we both were already so attuned to each other’s style of work, unquestionably were two of the most important factors that assured Devil Car of its niche—in the historical graveyard of former local comics’ most remembered hits. Unfortunately though, sometime in June of 1984, Karl had a falling out with the GASI management over the question of rate (amount payment) increase.

Picking a Partner



Now, even if you had penned a masterpiece of a comics script, you still can’t expect it to crash into that top 50 most read novels list if what you drew for a partner to draw it was only a mediocre illustrator. Never mind that I’m a writer—I’ve always maintained even then that the success of comics materials DEPENDED MORE ON THE ARTISTS THAN ON THE WRITERS. Again, my basis here is simple: even if the story was weak, there was a good chance that it was still going to be read if the illustration was good; then only when he was already halfway through the story or nearly finished with it would the reader realize that the writing was bad. But if it were the drawing that was poor in the first place then it probably wouldn’t matter if the story was written by Ravelo or Rizal—the reader would most likely just skip over those pages in search of better illustrated materials that didn’t hurt the eyes. And, let’s say that despite the horrible illustrations the reader still dared sample the first few issues, you can be sure that he wouldn’t be able to give up on it sooner or later, no matter how wonderful the writing

Revving Up for the Run





There were a few writer’s tricks up my sleeve which I applied to Devil Car and earned me some pretty gratifying results. It had always been my contention that for a comics novel to click, it just had to grab the readers by their throats at the earliest possible time, perhaps not any more later than its 20th issue. The writer achieved this by immediately pouring everything he’s got, every initial power-ideas he has thought of for his novel, into those first, second and third chapters and not get worried about not having anything juicy left for later (some colleagues I knew were so short of ideas that they tended to stingily hold on as long as they could to their miserably few bright ones for fear of being unable to produce any more for later). My reasoning is that once you’ve caught the reader’s attention early on, he will still continue following your novel even if it waned a bit in intensity later on, as long as your writing didn’t turn lousy, and provided too that you could still surprise the reader with even just sporadic flashes of brilliance. But if your weekly story installments continually failed to show any signs of life after having already wasted the reader’s time and money for five whole months, then forget it-—no amount of flooding your remaining chapters with even the faintest of your concerved ideas would entice the reader to still take a belated look.

Another wily trick I did which I became happy about was deciding beforehand never to show the readers the interior of Devil Car, thus keeping them greatly intrigued and perpetually guessing as to what the devil must really be the contents of the damned auto. (Although in the sequel, Devil Car, the Return, which I was requested to do in 1988 again in Holiday Komiks, I could no longer avoid exposing completely the innards of the murderous machine in the closing chapters.

But let me share with you the greatest trick of all in making serialized comics novelas (and this can also well apply to the “telenovelas” that now seem to have taken over as the “masa’s” most favorite form of inexpensive entertainment since the comics serials became extinct). If you ask me, the real secret in being able to continually sell a serialized story lies in its most crucial point: in the “To be Continued” last frame of every chapter. The writer shold always keep in mind to try and end each episode with a scene wherein the reader will be asking himself: “What will happen next?” In Devil Car, I always tried to squeeze in a cliff-hanger of an ending whenever possible, in every issue. You always had to keep the readers guessing as to what is in store for them in the next chapter.

The Car Keys




I’m often asked: “So what was the key to Devil Car’s success?” Well, simply put, I just tried to plan the scenes well for every chapter. I dug deep in my arsenal to try and come up with new and exciting gimmicks every time. The Devil Car’s supernatural abilities were supposedly limitless, so the real challenge lay in trying to invent different and unheard of evil powers for that diabolical machine. At the same time, it also had to have a few chinks in its armor, and devising those chinks kept me up nights into the wee hours of the morning. Thinking up innovative ways and means for the “bidas” of the story to use those chinks and stop an unstoppable villain even momentarily every other chapter or so was also taxing. And then there were those countless attacks of the Devil Car on its victims and confrontations with its pursuers—I had to make the circumstances in said encounters different each time lest the scenes repeat themselves, become predictable and monotonous.

DC's Track Record




Well, Devil Car, after having come out at only about its 10th issue, amazingly jumped up to a slot within the TOP TEN (I just don’t remember anymore to what number exactly) GASI-ATLAS bestselling comics novels. And as if that wasn’t phenomenal enough, it very shortly asserted full dominance over the lot by yet again shooting up, finally, to the Number One Spot! Once it got there, Devil Car steadfastly held hits ground, refusing to budge and remaining glued to that coveted position for an incredibly long time. It ultimately had to give way to some other novel of course, but it never dropped below the top 15 mark. In fact it was still somewhere high up that rating ladder, when I decided to already end it on its 150th issue. I didn’t have to end it yet. Since the advent of Devil Car in Holiday Komiks, the records showed a significant rise in the magazine’s circulation, so Ollie and Mrs. Paguio wanted me to go on writing it. But I felt that the novel had reached its zenith after having already run for more than three years. Just between you and me though, I just plain got tired of racking my brains out creating Devil Car scenes that would outshine the last. It was time to move on to other novels, other challenges…

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Race to 50





THE RACE TO 50
GASI used to conduct a nationwide survey regularly then, after every three months I think, to keep track of which comics novels were most awaited weekly by followers; which writers had the most number of concurrently running novels that clicked with the readers; which artists rendered illustrations that readers loved most; which writer-illustrator them-up in novels had that magic chemistry that made diehards out of fans; and, which comics-magazines were the winners or losers based on their circulation reports. Oh, and incidentally, it wasn’t only all of GASI’s comics-mags and their contents that these surveys covered. In order to compare how their products did against their closest publication rival, they also gathered complete datum on all the comics of ATLAS as well. You see, GASI and ATLAS were sister companies: GASI was owned by Doña Elena Roces and ATLAS was owned by Doña Carmen Roces Davila, sibling daughters of the late Don Ramon Roces. But there was nothing sisterly in how they fiercely tried to outdo each other in monopolizing the local comics industry!
Based on these surveys, which GASI gave a lot of serious credence to, they came up with something they dubbed as “THE MAGIC 50”. They in turn used this Magic 50 as their basis for prolonging the life of a novel—or abruptly cutting it short. The maximum life span initially allowed to a weekly running novel was 30 issues. A new novel was of course put at the bottom of the list the first time it hit the comics stands, and it had better make a leap up into the top 50 most read titles within those 30 issues—or die a natural death. Only when the serial entered that Magic 50 circle, or if it showed signs of inevitably getting there, was a serial allowed to exceed the 30 chapter limit. CONSISTENCY was the name of the game, and for as long as your novel hugged a spot within the charmed perimeter, it remained assured of the magazine space it occupied.

Defying the Odds



I cited this process of screening because Mrs. Paguio herself would later relate to me the extraordinary circumstance in which my Devil Car synopsis defied the odds and just barely made it through their board. “It was unusual in that it was probably the only occasion wherein the editor’s solo yes vote won over the concurring no votes of the editor-in-chief and myself, “she recalled, not without some amusement. “It was not that I didn’t like the idea. In fact your concept or making an inanimate object the main character was really different, and that rather appealed to me. There never was a doubt in my mind either that rather appealed to me. There never was a doubt in my mind either that a fine script was in there just waiting to be unleashed, and I knew it could only get better once that script got illustrated. Now, what I didn’t like was that it was a horror story through and through (the same reason that Silangan editor Andy Beltran gave). This was because we had already tried using horror novels before, but that didn’t exactly cause the readers to come stampeding to our publication doors. I reminded Ollie that it was the fantasy stories and love dramas that worked for us—these were the sure-fire circulation boosters and would do well to just stick with those. And these were the exact same sentiments of my editor-in-chief Joe Lad. “
But still, according to Mrs. Paguio, Ollie couldn’t or just wouldn’t believe that comics readers didn’t like horror stories as much as they did fantasy tales. He insisted that maybe they just hadn’t come up yet with the right scare materials, but now Devil Car was already there, just staring them in the face. Ollie really felt confident that my story would bring about wonders to his Holiday Komiks and maybe even start a new trend—and he wasn’t about to take ‘no’ for an answer. Well, continued the GASI lady boss, she admired her young new editor’s zeal in fighting wholeheartedly for something he believed in. Not wanting to douse cold water on Ollie’s high spiritedness, Mrs. Paguio finally relented and gave the editor the chance to prove his contention: She gave the approval for Devil Car to be scripted, but with open misgivings about the decision.
As I’ve already mentioned, Ollie was only just starting out in his career as an editor during that time. So while he was taking on that little gamble on my story idea, he must already have realized that he was sticking his neck out on a limb. Devil Car was to be his first crucial project as an editor in GASI and if it didn’t deliver as (he) anticipated, then it would be the first stain on his record. But as things turned out, Ollie needn’t have worried.

Getting the Green Light...


GETTING THE GREEN LIGHT
With regards to a writer’s bid for approval of his storyline to be developed into a novel and go into publication, the synopsis was required to pass through the scrutiny of a “screening board” composed of the editor, the editor-in-chief, and Mrs. Paguio. You of course always first submitted your synopsis to one of the editors, and if he or she didn’t like the stuff then it was killed on the spot, Just like what happened to Devil Car. In this case, it no longer reached the desks of the two other members of the board. You were welcome to bring the rejected material to other editors who might still be interested. You knows the saying—one man’s meat may be another man’s poison; both script and illustration approvals oftentimes depended more on the individual editor’s taste, or bias (and sometimes even just on what mood he or she happened to be in at the moment), and not entirely just on the merits of the works.
Once the storyline landed in the screening trio’s hands however, its fate was supposedly decided by the simple “majority rules” thing: two yeses to one ‘no” and it was a go, two nos against one yes vote and ita s a “thank you try again” But, that wasn’t always the case. Even if the editor and ed-in-chief had both already voted in favor of the material, it could still be shelved if Mrs. Paguio really “hated” the thing. And vice-versa: although no writer (except maybe “Zuma” creator Jim Fernandez)dared to go above the editor’s heads for fear of antagonizing them, it was not uncommon for Mrs. Paguio herself to go straight to a writer and “suggest” that he develop a storyline based on a particular idea that had suddenly ‘inspired” her; in those instances, there was no longer a need for a screening board—that “suggestion” became as good as published.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

BOSS OF THE ASSEMBLY LINE.



BOSS OF THE ASSEMBLY LINE

Now let me first tell you a little something here about the late Mrs. Paguio, who, despite her very excruciating and losing battle with the Big C, still managed to serve Graphic Arts Service as “Publishing Manager” to the last of her days. GASI, like any other company, of course had an owner and president, an executive vice-president, and a general manager. Well, all of these people were above the publishing manager in their corporate totem pole’s order of things. But don’t let that fool you. Anybody who ever did any business whatsoever with GASI back in those days will tell you who really ran the whole show over there: Nothing—but absolutely nothing—went down in that publication without that lady boss’ thumbs up or thumbs down signal, whether it was in the editorial , printing, or accounting departments. This was probably because none other higher-ups ever really knew GASI inside and out the way she did. Mrs. Paguio, God rest her soul, was the real power behind that comics firm.

Saved from the Junkyard.


SAVED FROM THE JUNKYARD

But this just wasn’t meant to be. About two months later, when I had all but completely forgotten about the Devil Car synopsis, I was approached by Ollie Roble Samaniego, then the latest addition to GASI’s transfusion of young blood (new comics editors with just as new ideas). “Vic,” he said, “I have two goals for HOLIDAY KOMIKS (the magazine Ollie was assigned to handle). One is to increase and hopefully to keep increasing, the number of its circulated copies. But before I can do that, I have to first implement the other goal and that is, to give Holiday Komiks a distinct new identity that it can claim as its own.” (GASI’s bet on the novels at the time rode heavily on the fantasy genre. Almost all of its comics magazines were similarly dishing out a fantasy novel or two as their primary offerings, so the mags really didn’t have any individuality.) Ollie continued, “I’d like to try something different and I think I’ve found what I’m looking for to initiate that change---in your Devil Car!” He explained that one time, he absentmindedly started to be thrown away and that was when he stumbled upon my rejected synopsis. Amazed that such potent material had just been left there for scrap, he said that he brought her straight to the editor-in-chief Joe Lad Santos and their lady boss, Mrs. C.P. Paguio to try and seek its immediate approval.

The First Roadblock


THE FIRST ROADBLOCK

“Your idea is good, Vic”, Andy addressed me after having read my synopsis. “But its obviously more of a horror story than just a “straight” fantasy which, as you know, is really the format of Silangan Komiks. And besides, I think its too intense—our readers may not be ready yet for such kind of materials.” In short, my synopsis was REJECTED by the editor. And that, folks, was the very first real attempt to ‘kill’ Devil Car.

I wasn’t very disappointed by that rejection though because I had a lot of their fish to fry during those times. And besides, Andy had asked me afterwards to submit another storyline which he no longer turned down and was eventually approved. I didn’t even bother to get the rejected synopsis back from him since it was just a duplicate anyway. So what he did was just dump the thing on a shelf they reserved for ‘dead” materials, dooming it to languish there for eternity.

Complete Overhaul

COMPLETE OVERHAUL

In fact the vehicle’s whole features had unmistakably undergone a thorough makeover. It now looked like the fastest, most modern and most powerful sportscar in existence, instead of just another expensive auto. But even more terrifyingly significant was the aura of malevolence that now surrounded it and felt immediately by anyone in its presence. Thus was born the DEVIL CAR, which wasn’t just given a complete overhauling by Satan himself—but also turned into a LIVING, thinking machine-so it could serve as his personal instrument of evil on earth. To keep strong and alive, the Devil Car had to keep killing. The story would run on how the main characters would go about in trying to permanently stop such an indestructible force from pushing on with the widespread bloodbaths it had started.

DC's BLUE PRINTS.




The concept was about a brand-new, all-black car which was accursed from the day it left the assembly line. The vehicle was passed down from one owner to a number of other owners since the day it was first bought. As fate (or probably a darker force) would have it, all of those owners happened to have evil hearts. All of them used that car for evil purposes (as an instrument for murder, a holdup getaway vehicle, etc.) and all perished in bizarre and extremely violent deaths, always with the car’s involvement. Cops finally ambushed the car, riddling it with bullets and sending it plunging into a murky river along with tis last owner and his gang, all notorious criminals. But the authorities were mystified when they sent divers down to haul up the ill-fated car from its watery grave—and were unable to find a trace of it. Deep in the night though, the dirty, polluted water started bubbling as the car began surfacing little by little, raised from the bottom by numerous demons of all sorts. The car was unscathed and now looked even newer than when it was first brought out from the auto shop. Its body was still black as night but there were obvious major changes: the windshield and window panes now all looked painted instead of just tinted black, making even the slightest glimpse of its interior impossible. It no longer had plate numbers in the front and back, no door handles, no side mirrors, and – its headlights had become somewhat slit-shaped, acquiring the menacing look of a pair of monstrous, predatory eyes.

Getting DC on the Road.


GETTING DC ON THE ROAD.

So how was devil Car let loose into the streets (from the now defunct newsstands that used to dominate almost every corner of the downtown areas)? Well, sometime in 1982, GASI had it’s office renovated at Murphy, Quezon City forcing them to temporarily take residence at the Chronicle Building in Mandaluyong.This was where Devil Car was really assembled, to speak. While GASI was there in the middle of that year, a novel of mine in Silangan Komiks (one of their publications) was coming to its end.So the magazine’s editor, Andy Beltran asked me to submit for approval a synopsis for a new serial that would replace my outgoing one. I had an abundant stock of ideas for comics novel plots in those days, but one concept had been hatching in my mind at that time and aching to see the light of day ahead of the others. The plot in it self was simple enough. But in my mind’s eye as a writer, it was pregnant with shocking, fantastic and excitingly new, never before –published illustrated scenes I could dream up---If given the chance...

DEVIL CAR: Maybe my best ride.


DEVIL CAR: Maybe My Best Ride.

The very first comics novel of mine that went into print was entitled: “Shoot to Kill.” That came out in 1976 in Espesyal Komiks, an ATLAS publication. And my first novel that really made it big in readership wise was “Shanghai Joe”, published in 1977 in Tagalog Klasiks, also at ATLAS. In fact the serial was so popularthat it even became my first work that brought by a movie production and brought to the big screen. Devil car (or DC for brevity), on the other hand, came out in GASI (Graphic Arts Services, Inc.) only in 1982, so clearly it wasn’t this novel that got my motor running in the comics field, or was it my first successful project. So I guess the only reason why I’m readily identified with this titleis because it must have been the most read, the most anticipated, and ultimately- the most appreciated of all my works. After all, it ran weekly for more than three years, won the KOMOPEB (Komiks Operation brotherhood) Award in 1985 for “Best Novel Fantasy” (horror entries fell in this category), and it even had a sequel “Devil Car, The Return” in 1988.

In the Driver's seat of 'Devil Car'


In the driver’s seat of “Devil Car”
By Vic J. Poblete

An interview once asked me how come whenever my name is mentioned to other former local comics contributors (writers and illustrators) and comics aficionados, the automatic response almost always is: “Oh yeah. Vic the author of “DEVIL CAR!” The interviewer wanted to know: did my name become synonymous with that one particular title over the other hundred fifty something or more novels that I’ve done in my 30-year comics writing career because Devil Car was the vehicle (pardon the pun) that got me started on that road? Or is it because Devil car was my first real success in the comics business? The answer to both question is no.