Published on September 28th, 2014 | by irinavega0
El víbora – Comix
In 1979 many changes took place in Spain. It was the transition to democracy and all those people who had to hide their sexualities or conceal their desires and inclinations during the dictatorship were starting to walk the streets as big fearless crowds. This movement was later called “La Movida”, it happened mostly in the eighties and it had a lot to do with sex and drugs.
It was in these years that we could see punks, rockers and all kinds of urban sub-cultures taking over the streets. It was also the time when movies started to show a little more flesh, this was called “El Destape” (“The Uncovering”), with actors like Pajares and Esteso, and erotic comedies such as El fontanero, su mujer y otras cosas de meter (“The Plumber, his wife and other things to put inside”).
Going back to 1978, a young Josep Maria Berenguer, supported by an investor called Josep Toutain, saw a potential underground world where they could tell stories without being politically correct, so they gathered some comic artists and writers and created a comic magazine similar to El Jueves (“Thursday”), but more alternative and hardcore. In the beginning, they thought about calling it Goma-3 but sadly, it was not allowed as this is the name of the powerful explosive the terrorists used in their attempts. That’s how, after thinking several other options, the publication was called El Víbora (The Viper), a fanzine for adults in an underground line.
This type of magazines which gathered chapters of complete works, unique stories and comic strips by different authors and illustrators in every issue were called Comix in the U.S.A. Here, in Spain, they were also called “la línea chunga” (“the sick line”).
El Vibora was active between 1979 and 2005, always making jokes about current affairs, laughing at the system and creating a less and less reactionary public. In 1981, they made a joke about Major Tejero and his attempt, and they suffered retaliation but anyway continued to draw whatever they wanted against politics and the Church.
One of the most well-known artists that worked for El Vibora was Max (Francesc Capdevila), who started in El Vibora and managed to become very important in the spanish field of comic. A very famous character of his is Peter Pank.
Another big name of El Vibora was Nazario, who drew stories about the gay and transvestite scene and everything related to that culture. Nobody had dared to draw stories with such topics so he became very important in the industry os alternative comic. Then others would join him, like an amatteur Almodovar presenting his Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón (Pepi, Luci, B
om and Other Girls Like Mom). Nazario was able to tell his original stories and also to adapt well-known works to the punk and underground world.
These are just some of the many artists who started their career in El Vibora.
This comic publication turned out to be very successful and even published works from foreign artists like Robert Crumb and his obscure stories, Peter Bagge or Tanino Liberatore, who drew more alternative strips.
El Vibora was already very successful in Spain and it also worked abroad, so they started making stamps and comic series like Sangre de barrio (Neighborhood Blood), that told the story of a group of friends, fans of Heavy Metal music, or Burns’ most dark and goth stories. It was the first magazine to dare publishing manga in Spain. In the middle nineties, comics were in a low point and La Cupula publishing house, which published El Vibora, had to look for something different and they saw in manga a possible answer and well…it worked! Apart from manga, they went on publishing their usual works and pulling for amatteur artists, like Peter Milligan and Jamie Hewlett, who would later become famous with their comic Tank Girl, which had a poor adaptation to cinema.
Unfortunately, in 2005, underground culture was something of the past for many so the magazine went through a big crisis and wasn’t able to recover. Finally, it stopped being published. For those of you who want to know a little bit more about this amazing fanzine, you can always find issues in street markets and specialized shops 😉 Lucky me, I still have some issues that my father gave me among other issues of magazines such as Cimoc, Zona 84, Comix, Kiss and 1984 that we’ll discuss some other day.