Back in the early 1900’s a series of underground comic-book pamphlets called the Tijuana Bibles (or Eight Pagers) were distributed outside the law. These comic strips were pornographic and illegal before the advent of magazines such as Playboy. In this century pornography is very accessible but back in the 30’s and 40’s the Tijuana Bibles were a young men’s first glance at pornography. The name Tijuana Bibles comes from the word “Tijuana” which has long been associated with iniquity. Pairing it with the word “bible” produces a fittingly blasphemous label. A typical bible consisted of eight-stapled comic-strip frames drawn in black and white sometimes very well but most of time drawn very poorly.
Lampooning Sunday comics was very popular in the Tijuana Bibles. Character such as Dagwood, Betty Boop, Popeye, and even Mickey Mouse were not spared from this pornographic satire. It can almost be a safe bet that without the Tijuana Bibles there may have never been Mad Magazine.
There is however a very dark side to the Tijuana Bibles. The comics were meant to turn you on but also could offend an individual as well. What would not be tolerated this day and age was unfortunately very common back in the 30’s. Many are racist, sexist, and otherwise wholly politically incorrect.
Tijuana Bibles by Bob Adelman is a great book that reproduces 100s of Adelman’s favorites. Bob Adelman. Art Spiegelman, and Richard Merkin provide great insight into the history of the different “Bible” styles, creators, their vocabulary, and their demise. This volume is a very interesting and silly but they give you a great insight into a culture of American history. It also gives you a glimpse as to how some things haven’t changed over 70 years.
The book Tijuana Bible is available at Amazon.com. If you are looking to buy original Tijuana Bibles you can always find some on eBay.
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