Since I was fifteen, I have been the author of self-published publications (what are commonly called ‘fanzines’) in small print runs of 50, 100, or 200 copies. Sometimes of two copies (one for the readers and another for the archive). I believe I have become the book publisher that I am (with sixteen years of experience and print runs of 3,000 copies; sometimes of 80,000 or 100,000) thanks to what I learned through these publications, which I wrote, drew, photocopied, collected, stapled and sold personally. I discovered very early on that my main interest in this medium was not only to produce an artifact (most times using very precarious means) through which to communicate with others, but to find other people with similar interests with whom to interact with and, also, work enthusiastically on these artifacts. Making fanzines (I never called them that) was fun, but it was even better to make them with the complicity of a group of friends: meeting up, thinking collectively, thinking alone at home and then sharing the discoveries.

Many of these publications have been test benches for me to learn how to write short texts, combine direct inks, or try out the effect of different typographies; however, I believe their purpose was not this one, rather they make sense in themselves. In other words, they are not simply accessible objects that anyone can make with few resources, but a special kind of object that often have nothing to do with other type of creations. In a place such as this one (Valencia or Spain, depending on the limits we set ourselves), without a powerful publishing industry or a real market for cultural products, fanzines, or small amateur publications, they have a different significance from what can be observed in other cities and countries, where the transition between small and big, between amateurism and professionalism, seems like a natural path. Here, fanzine authors and publishers do not always become authors and publishers of books or magazines with a greater ambition or reach. In fact, it is almost never the case. Although it is dangerous to generalise, I would say that fanzines and small publications are almost always more interesting than publications that circulate in the commercial market; and the people who make them are far more interesting, brilliant, and creative than the group of professionals who make an effort to survive in that hostile and cold world we call the ‘publishing sector’.

There are independent publications (they are also known by this name) for all tastes, in terms of their appearance, their content, and their distribution characteristics. They reflect the diverse interests of the authors and are often very faithful self-portraits. Some are remarkably coherent within their incoherence. I was mainly interested in literature and graphic humour; also in poetry and the way of putting images to poetry. However, I began making photo comics with schoolmates, inspired by two of my passions at the time: Agatha Christie and Enrique Jardiel Poncela. Those photo comics helped us to explore the city when searching for locations; they were also carnival parties, since we dressed up in costumes; we took photographs, when that meant going to a lab to have them developed; and when the photographs did not work out, we had to improvise and invent new texts to put in the speech balloons. I am certain that with the means young people have at their disposal nowadays, many interesting photo comics could be made. I am unaware if this happens. I imagine that photo comics made by professionals are not in fashion and probably do not even exist. It would have to be investigated. As a person interested in all types of  publications (and rare editions in particular), I miss newsstands as an endless source of information. The Internet has its good things, but it is not the same.

Vicente Ferrer

Text in response to a questionnaire for an article by the journalist Carles Gómez about fanzines (Quadern, El País, June 2014). In the photograph: María José J. (we are keeping anonymity), dressed as a spy, during a delicate mission.