Tijuana Bibles: Art & Wit in America’s Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s

Bob Adelman

This coffee table-sized paperback compilation of the first truly underground comics—drawn, printed and distributed outside normal retail networks—is simultaneously fascinating, grotesque and hilarious. Shockingly graphic and deliberately obscene, the comics reproduced in this volume’s 160 pages depict popular comic and Hollywood figures of the day such as Blondie, Moon Mullins and even Clara Bow and Laurel and Hardy engaged in big-penised, open-vaginaed coitus of every sort imaginable, and then some. This book should definitely not be left out where the kids can get hold of it and will be patently offensive to anyone who values political correctness or sexual decorum, but for the rest of us it provides a glimpse into comics history that precedes the work of R. Crumb and all the other famous artists of the commercial underground genre. And, as Paul Krassner is quoted in Art Spiegelman’s introductory essay, “Appealing to the prurient interest is a socially redeeming value.” Amen to that.