Snake Agent: a comic drawn with a photocopier

In the following article, we will talk about Snake Agent, a comic drawn by a photocopier, yes, just as you read! From a photocopier, what the artist Stefano Tamburini achieved with this story is great.

This is because being made by a photocopier, there are images that are distorted, therefore, it gives a ghostly tone, or continuation to another really spectacular cartoon. We will show you how it was made, and all its secrets.

Without further ado, read on, it’s really interesting!

What is it that makes Snake Agent so special?

Perhaps, you read the title of this article, and you wondered if there has been a typo. A comic drawn by a photocopier? Is that possible? The answer, dear reader, is yes.

Stefano Tamburini, a famous Italian cartoonist from the 1980s, has experimented with these machines, and managed to produce an avant-garde comic called Snake Agent a comic drawn by a photocopier.

Are you eager to know about it? Here we go!

snake agent un cómic dibujado por una fotocopiadora

What is this art form called Xerox Art?

snake agent

First of all, you have to know that there is something called Xerox Art or Copy Art, an art form, which started in the 1960s. The creation of photocopiers, gave rise to the imagination to create innovative images.

The precursor works of Xerox Art emerged from the Mail Art movement in New York, which used the photocopier installed at the New York Correspondance School to intervene letters and generate stamps of its own authorship.

Quickly, and during the following decades, its use spread to different artistic movements.

However, what did artists do with a photocopier? Simple, they placed images or objects on the glass of the machine and pressed Start.

The magic happened when what they placed was not flat and did not stay still on the glass, then the resulting image was distorted, giving ghostly effects.

Snake Agent, a comic made in Xerox-art

xerox art

The polemic Italian artist Stefano Tamburin,i published in Frigidaire magazine, at the beginning of the 80’s, a series of comics in which the artist was not himself but a photocopier.

The comic was called Snake Agent, and it narrated the adventures of a detective who traveled quickly around the world, and his boss sent him on espionage missions where he had to unravel conspiracies, while having affairs with numerous women.

So far, it seems like a typical detective story, but it is not.

We reveal the Secret of Snake Agent

el secreto de snake agent un comic dibujado por una fotocopiadora

To make this great comic, Tamburini recycled the Secret-Agent X-9 comic book series, drawn by Mel Graff starting in 1940. In it, Agent X-9 was a defender of the law, who hates gangsters to death since a gang of criminals murdered his wife and son.

Tamburini, with the help of his photocopier, disassembled, and reassembled, part of the strips of this character, completely changing what happens in them, and transforming the old and obsolete X-9, in the new, strange, and deformed Snake Agent.

This comic was something never seen before. In addition to deforming the characters, Tamburini rewrote all the dialogues of Agent X-9 making it an adult comic.

The characters had ironic and grotesque dialogues, giving rise to an absurd and surreal story.

Tamburini, a master of acceleration


If there is one word that could define the Snake Agent comic, it is its unbridled rhythm. Have you ever seen what happens when you take a picture of a car and it moves? The photograph is left with a blurred effect, as if it had speed lines indicating its movement.

In the case of the photocopier, Tamburini simulated the same effect. The blurring and distortion obtained during reproduction gave the pages a visual dynamism that reinforces the speed of the situations narrated.

This great comic can go from New York to the other side of the world in a few seconds. It even moves to the airport in 3 tenths of a second.

The detective’s girlfriend comes to complain that it’s been 3 hours since their wedding and they still haven’t made their wedding trip, a cab has an accident at nine hundred and thirty kilometers per hour. I think it’s already too much, you got it, right? It’s great!

Not only do the characters move at unthinkable speeds, but their moods change from love to hate, and from arrogance to fear, from one vignette to the next.

The effect is unsettling.

How was Snake Agent made?

xerox art para dibujar

This ingenious artist used a XEROX 3107 photocopier to multiply, distort, and lengthen the original Agent X-9 characters.

Before doing so, he erased the original letters with a white-out in order to reproduce the images in motion, and then rewrote the texts.

It may seem simple, but Tamburini stated on occasion that the manipulation of images by photocopier was a deliberate and difficult process.

According to his words, it often took more than twenty attempts to obtain the desired effect in a vignette, sounds logical.


As we mentioned during the article, Snake Agent is a great comic, and with the added bonus, that it is made with a photocopier, therefore, there are thousands of ways to make a comic, but always, there is one that is the most suitable to represent what you want to tell.

Tamburini did not experiment just for the sake of it, but the effects achieved allowed him to build his own story and create unique characters.

The aesthetics of your comic must be linked to its plot, keep this in mind and you will make comics that people won’t forget!

Don’t forget to go back to the beginning of the post if you want to reread it or if you simply felt trapped by Snake Agent. See you next time!

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