cover image The Tijuana Bibles: America's Forgotten Comic Strips

The Tijuana Bibles: America's Forgotten Comic Strips

, . . Eros, $35 (519pp) ISBN 978-1-60699-178-7

To quote humorist Tom Lehrer, “dirty books are fun,” and they seldom come more prurient or entertaining than this massive collection of once-illegal “Tijuana Bibles,” jaw-droppingly smutty little eight-page comic books that flourished from the late 1920s until higher grade erotica in the form of Playboy drove them from the scene in the 1950s. As explicitly pornographic as anything seen today, the over-the-top bedroom gymnastics of the Tijuana Bibles were gleefully performed by caricatures of popular media stars as well as copyright-infringed comic strip characters, all to great if sophomoric comedic effect. Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Clark Gable, Mae West, Little Orphan Annie (with her trusty dog, Sandy), Captain America, Flash Gordon and countless other notables of nostalgia are all seen doing things their copyright holders never thought they could do. Produced by artists whose identities remained hidden because of the black market nature of the material, the genre's artistic merits were usually questionable at best, but occasional works showcasing competent-to-professional skill are seen here. This omnibus of smaller collections last released 10 years ago presents a glimpse into the history of American sexuality and some genuine laughter as well. (Mar.)