Tijuana bible  

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Tijuana bibles (also known as eight-pagers or dirty little eight-pagers) were pornographic comic books produced in the United States from the 1920s to the early 1960s. Their popularity peaked during the Great Depression era. The typical "bible" is 4 by 6 inches (approx. 10 x 15 cm), with black printing on cheap white paper, and eight pages long. In most cases the artists, writers and publishers of these tracts are unknown. The quality of the artwork varied widely and sometimes included racial caricatures (Black people are portrayed with huge lips and protruding eyes). Their subject is explicit sexual escapades usually featuring well known cartoon characters, political figures or movie stars (used without permission).

The origin of the term Tijuana bible is obscure. The connection to the Mexican city of Tijuana may be on account of Tijuana's being an important distribution point for these made-in-USA (but illegal-in-USA) booklets. It is also possible that the name is simply an ironic coinage, Tijuana being stereotypically seen in the U.S. as uncivilized and debauched, while the Bible, perceived as the pinnacle of chaste morality, is seen as standing as far removed from pornography as possible. The distinction makes somewhat more sense when using another usage of the word Bible though, as a how-to or pivotal work (see Bible (disambiguation) for details).

Tijuana bibles were sold illicitly, often passed among soldiers and schoolboys. Their popularity rapidly declined as the photographic pornography in magazines like Playboy became more widely available in the late 1950s. In some senses, these comics were the first underground comix, and they featured original material at a time when legitimate American comic books were still exclusively reprinting material from newspaper strips.

In the modern day, there is at least one comic book company, Shanda Fantasy Arts, that publishes a variant of Tijuana Bibles, the XXX Files. These are small books which feature characters from their regular comics in explicitly erotic situations that the main publications generally gloss over. However, these publications differ not only by being approved and published by the company, but also by the talent, who have no discomfort with the subject matter and are fully credited for their work.


Cartoon characters


Further reading

  • Bob Adelman, Tijuana Bibles : Art and Wit in America's Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997, ISBN 0-684-83461-8
  • Susie Bright; "Dogeared Style," Salon.com [1]
  • Art Spiegelman; "Those Dirty Little Comics," Salon.com [2]
  • Michael J. Weller; "The Secret Blue Book", Home'Baked Books, 2005, London [3]

See Also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tijuana bible" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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