I’m not sure how I, a lover of sex knowledge and comics, only just now found out about these things. However, I’m real glad I’ve now entered this realm. Tijuana bibles, also known as dirty comics or fuck books, were little booklets of raunchy comics, often featuring well known characters or people, that were secretly distributed from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. It’s a whole secret world of comic based pornography that people don’t know about, but that nearly everyone was involved in.
I think it’s incredible. Sure, I wince a little when I see panels of Donald and Daisy Duck going at it, but the whole concept of these books is pretty darn cool. For the most part. It’s the grandfather of both underground comics and comic erotica, and I won’t judge that it took a little bit of awkward character porn to get there. When this was one of the only sources of pornography between the 20’s and the 50’s, people had to get a little creative. Of course, it’s not all characters, though, and there’s a whole lot of history behind these little fuck books.
The bibles started as parodies of current popular comics of the era, such as “Blondie”, “Popeye”, and “Dick Tracey”. They began mainly illustrations of dirty jokes, and were just another way of circulating them and sharing them with buddies. They then turned more into pornographic comics & parodies, often being both silly and raunchy. They would depict popular characters, celebrities, or just average people engaging in various sexual acts, or talking about sex. They were pretty much exclusively targeted towards men, and sold under the counter at places were men were thought to gather like tobacco shops, garages, bars, and barber shops. They certainly reflected the times, too. They were written in a way that made men seem real macho, and the women were often voracious and really sexed up. I think that has a whole lot to do with the fact that during this time, men were uncomfortable with the fact that women were newly liberated, getting their own jobs, and being more independent. This is where I am not so on board with these bibles. However, it is pretty interesting to think about how much porn changed because society was changing. Since the books were rather secretive, scandalous, and outright used copyrighted material without permission, many of the artists are unknown, as well as information about their creation & distribution. The artists remained anonymous, and the books just seemed to pop of nowhere. It was illegal to send them through the US post, so they were sent in secretive packages. Some who were caught distributing the comics were actually arrested and put in prison. It’s unfortunate that we don’t know who was really behind this whole movement, but they sure did bring a lot to comics today. It’s fun to think that how they made these underground comics is still how they make a lot of independent comics today; a few ink drawings scanned onto white paper, folded, and stapled in the middle. In that respect, not a lot has changed since that era of comics, but I think that’s pretty neat.
When you think about the Great Depression era, sexually charged might not be something that comes to mind. But underneath it all, these dirty comics were raging. One survey showed that 70% of Americans had their hands on these things back in the day. Even people who were struggling with the economy, societal changes, and a big, giant war had time to have a laugh and enjoy sexuality. I think we ought to take a lesson away from the era of Tijuana bibles. Maybe just without all the Mickey Mouse sex.
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