First created in the 1920s, Tijuana Bibles were cheap, eight-page, hand-sized comic books featuring Hollywood stars, cartoon characters and other notables engaged in cheeky tales and hardcore sexual antics. Branded obscene and libellous, the Bibles' editorial guidelines amounted to: the more demure the star, the more filthy the portrayal of their sex lives. So there's a Bible of Donald Duck shagging Minnie Mouse and Snow White getting to know that each of the seven dwarfs earned their names on the back of a particular sexual kink.
Sold under the counter in tobacco shops, bars, barbers and bowling alleys at 25 cents a pop, Tijuana Bibles were presented as if they'd been smuggled into the US from anything-goes Mexico. This presentation as foreign contraband subverting American morals only fuelled desire to own them. The truth was more prosaic. This was domestic smut mass produced and distributed illegally in the US and sold 'underground'.
To give you some idea of their pre-war popularity, eight million Bibles were reported seized in one November 1942 FBI raid on a New York City warehouse and a printing plant in the South Bronx.
The arrival of cheaper photography and cameras impacted on sales. But at their apogee, their power to shock was such that in 1930 the sale of two Tijuana Bibles for 25 cents each at the barber shop in the mountain hamlet of Dover Plains, New York, was front page news in the Poughkeepsie Eagle News. The criminality was uncovered when a maiden aunt, going through her 17-year-old nephew's pockets to prepare his clothes for the wash, discovered the books in the back pocket of his jeans and called the police.
Today, Tijuana Bibles and collectable. A tatted copy of Bunky, Tillie the Toiler, Popeye, Mickey Mouse, Sad Sack, Dr. Rex Morgan, Moon Mullins or Joe Stalin will fetch $20; a pristine Laurel & Hardy featuring the art of 'Iva Snatch' will set you back at least $200. Time to start rummaging in grandpa's attic.
Mickey Mouse And Donald Duck:
Snow White #1 (German edition):
Snow White #2:
Archie and Veronica:
Boob McNut The Meaning of Jazz:
Donald Duck Has a Universal Desire:
Ella Cinders Tsk-Tsk:
Jitterbug Bug Contest at the World's Fair:
Plastic Man in The Stretch:
She Saw the World's Fair and how!
Sheza Floppe Presents - POPEYE:
Superboy in Big Bet:
Tijuana Bibles scans courtesy of Quinn.