Tijuana bibles

Exploring Mickey Mouse in the old days, I came across Tijuana bibles involving Disney characters, in particular a famous one pairing Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck:

But what, you ask, are Tijuana bibles? Not bibles, and not from Tijuana.

From the Wikipedia entry:

Tijuana bibles (also known as bluesies, eight-pagers, gray-backs, Jiggs-and-Maggie books, jo-jo books, Tillie-and-Mac books, and two-by-fours) 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” was an 8-panel comic strip in a wallet-size 2.5×4 inch format (approximately 7×10.5 cm) with black print on cheap white paper and running eight pages in length. In most cases the artists, writers, and publishers of these are unknown. The quality of the artwork varied widely. The subjects are explicit sexual escapades usually featuring well known newspaper comic strip characters, political figures, or movie stars, invariably used without permission. Tijuana bibles repeated ethnic stereotypes found in popular culture at the time.

People distributed Tijuana bibles “under the counter” in places such as schools, garages, cigar stores, burlesque houses, and barber shops as well as from the hatches of station wagons and from persons selling them on the street. The term “Tijuana bibles” refers to the apocryphal belief that they were manufactured and smuggled across the border from Tijuana, Mexico.

Renowned comic artist and advocate of the medium of comics Art Spiegelman notes that records of prosecutions against publishers and artists for making Tijuana bibles do not seem to exist; the cartoonist added, however, that on occasion authorities seized shipments and people selling Tijuana bibles. According to Spiegelman, it’s not clear whether mom and pop outfits or organized crime created the small salacious booklets

Some sources have suggested that they were created in the back rooms of a few rare book shops which sold erotica under the counter in New York City. In some senses, Tijuana bibles were the first underground comix. They also featured original material at a time when legitimate American comic books, typically, still reprinted material from newspaper strips. After World War II, the popularity of the Tijuana bible declined.

There’s a book:

Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America’s Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s, by Bob Adelman, 1997 (with Spiegelman’s introductory essay)

From a review of this volume, in which Mickey and Donald put in an appearance, along with some sexual lexicon:

what can we learn from these exceedingly un-lofty pages? For one thing, we can learn that those before our present generation in America actually knew about sex, knew about it and brought to bear a healthy seasoning of imagination to it: we find a veritable Kama Sutra’s worth of positions here, and then some: Donald Duck buggering a giddy Mickey Mouse [actually Minnie]; Olive Oyl engaged in a vivid threesome with Popeye and Wimpy; Mutt orally servicing a woman who is doing the same to Jeff; Jimmy Cagney reaming and fellating a young actor; and on and on. Indeed, the sheer monomania of the sexual theme can be wearying en masse, and one is best advised to dip piecemeal into these pages. Take breaks.

We also learn a wide vocabulary of bodily parts and functions, as well of personal types, many of these now obsolete. Some examples: for the penis, we might have nubbin, ding-dong or kidney prodder; a man performing cunnilingus might be a pearl fisher, a yodeler or perhaps muzzle-guzzler.

(A copy of the Mickey & Donald bible sold for $504 on eBay in 2002.)

(Added 6/28: The Mickey and Donald bible and a Donald bible can now be viewed on AZBlogX, here.)


4 Responses to “Tijuana bibles”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    I recall passing these around at the back of the school bus in San Antonio around 1952. We called them “eight page bibles”.

  2. Stan Says:

    I have a copy of the book, which offers what I assume to be a representative selection. Spiegelman’s introduction is instructive and level-headed. The comics themselves are fascinating, not least linguistically because of the slang they’re peppered with (“joy prong”, “whistling in the whiskers”), though the quality of wit and craftsmanship varies wildly. And they’re all extremely rude, of course.

  3. Dave Says:

    i first saw these in 1954 in Phoenix…one of my friends found his dads collection…eight page bibles is what we called them also

  4. Tony Says:

    Yes, this looks like one of the contemporary reprints I sell at TijuanaBible.org, the 1935 original printing has a 2 color cover.
    I got my first 8 pagers, when I was in sixth grade and brought them to show my classmates. Since then, I’ve had a keen interest in their origins and continue my search for original editions.

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