Spain’s subversive comic El Víbora revived

El Víbora (The Viper), a cult comic from Spain’s 1970s counter-culture, has been relaunched online to help relieve the tedium of the nation’s lockdown.

El Víbora, back in 2020 - cover by Aroha Travé
El Víbora, back in 2020 – cover by Aroha Travé

The subversive comic El Víbora was a Spanish language monthly alternative comics magazine published in Barcelona, Spain, between 1979 and 2004, running to 300 issues. At its height, the magazine sold some 45,000 copies an issue, although that had declined to around 6000 by 2004.

Founded by a group of Spanish cartoonists led by Josep Maria Berenguer, Catalan comics publisher Josep Toutain financed and helped the establish the magazine, which was published by La Cúpula.

Contributors included not only Spanish creators such as Max, Mariscal, Martí, Nazario and Pons, but French and Americans too, including Peter Bagge, Robert Crumb and Charles Burns – and many have returned, or will soon return, with work for the digital revival.

Max created some of the monthly comic’s most remembered such as Gustavo, Peter Pank, Gallardo and Mediavilla – available today in Spanish language collections.

Art by Gallardo for the revived El Víbora
Art by Gallardo for the revived El Víbora

The first digital edition of the comic includes a comic by Gambarte, set in the current confinement resulting from the Pandemic, in which an egomaniac musician who is only applauded by his mother finds new hope – playing from the balcony in the afternoons.

Revived “by popular demand”, according to the comic’s Barcelona-based publisher, Emilio Bernárdez, the comic, always subtitled “Comix for Survivors”, in reference to those who had lived through Spain’s 40-year dictatorship, which ended with the death of General Franco in 1975, is reappearing as “The Viper for Survivors”, this time referring to Covid-19.

“It’s an act of solidarity with people who are bored at home,” Bernárdez said, reported by The Guardian. “We wanted to do something. But we’re not health workers so this is what we came up with.

“We’re very close to our readers and so many of them asked us to revive El Víbora we decided to bring out a special issue that brings together our contributors’ favourite strips. The response from the cartoonists has been fantastic.”

• You can read the new El Víbora here on Calameo or here on Issuu

Collections of strips from El Víbora are available as Spanish language complete “Integrale” editions direct from La Cúpula

There’s more about the revival here in Lavanguardia, in Spanish

An exhibition of art from El Víbora took place at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona last year – details here

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

Categories: Digital Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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1 reply

  1. Thanks to the wonders of t’internet, I have immediately found what the Spanish word “jodan” means in English: mostly unprintable for those of a delicate disposition!

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