Fanzeen, starting off as a dream, is now among one of the first comic magazines in Jordan. A collective of visual nature for readers to experience all kinds of narratives through illustration. Featuring works of both regional and international  contemporary artists and writers. The project was highly influenced by other illustrated collectives in the Middle East.

“The inspiration came from Semandal, a Lebanese magazine. Egypt has TokTok and Morocco has Skefkef, so I thought, why can’t we have our own magazine?”, told us the creator of Fanzeen, Mike V. Derderian aka Sardine. “I grew up with comic books and wanted to make my own but I didn’t know any publishers in Jordan. Then came in a quote I live by, ‘If there’s no door, break the wall’ that’s how I got to the idea of self publishing. I was able to bring together illustrators that I know to finally create it”.

Scenes from Fanzeen: Issue 1 Launch at FADA 317

One of the artists, Jose Lorenzo Pacheco,  shared with us his thoughts on the launch:

It’s a pioneering initiative that is much needed and in fact overdue, and it will be instrumental for the development of the comics culture and market in Jordan in the coming years. What makes Fanzeen special, to me, is its openness and accessibility. There is an evident underground, punk, do-it-yourself attitude and approach to it, a very welcoming, plural and diverse initiative, one that aims to serve as platform to many voices and stories that would otherwise go unnoticed and unheard.
Scenes from Fanzeen: Issue 1 Launch at FADA 317

Each artist’s unique take on the comic medium resulted in a variety of rich and diverse styles and stories in the book. An artistically rendered form of storytelling with more visual freedom through development of animated features only restricted by how far their imagination takes them. Between the union of text and illustration, words become elements of the image itself.  Vivid plots and themes incorporated, emerging readers into universal concepts viable for any audience.

Generally comic books have one style from start to end. But with Fanzeen, so many people collaborated on it and it turned into a reflection of various works and stories. Every artist’s uniqueness is displayed. The freedom and credit we get for our work is great. –Naji Al Ali, collaborating artist
Scenes from Fanzeen: Issue 1 Launch at FADA 317
Different stories and ways of storytelling all bound up in one volume, in conversation with each other is brilliant on its own. But as a reader jumps from one to another they’ll notice that together they make something really special. Sharing and listening to each other’s stories is an incredibly powerful thing.- Phoebe Rossman, collaborating artist

Fanzeen not only brought a new way to tell powerful thought provoking stories to the region, but it also introduced a new platform for artists. It gave illustrators an opportunity to shine and it also opened new doors for others, offering creatives -such as Rossman– a chance to dabble in an animatic form they’ve never pursued before, “I’ve never done anything remotely related to comics before and I thought it would push me and my art to be better”, she said.

Scenes from Fanzeen: Issue 1 Launch at FADA 317

Derderian also added, “I want to inspire people with the stories. I think with this it’ll naturally get people motivated and more into comics and get them thinking ‘hey, i can do this’”.

Everyone  has an idea to share, a story to tell, and something to relate to. This comic book is made up of so many people who all shared a story. And these comics might inspire others to speak up and tell their own stories. –Naji Al Ali, collaborating artist

“I hope that international and local based artists, no matter where they are in their artistic and life journeys, can feel inspired and motivated to step up and tell their stories through pictures and words, and be active players in this exciting new era for Jordanian comics, and arts in general. As for audiences, I hope they come to appreciate comics as a unique, valid, and rich art form, and help support this important work by buying and sharing Fanzeen with anyone who loves art”, tells us Pacheco.

Scenes from Fanzeen: Issue 1 Launch at FADA 317

This being the second issue, is just the beginning for Fanzeen. These artists and ongoing stories will take the local collective to new heights. Derderian gave us a glimpse of what’s to come, “I hope to take it and later reach Beirut, Cairo, Morocco and get it out there and get people to grab it and acknowledge Jordanian artists. Though we have many nationalities with in it, for me the biggest sense of pride comes from the page where it says ‘printed in Amman, JO’”.

Image courtesy of Amanee Hasan and FADA 317.