Tijuana Bibles – #34 is the Oldest Rule
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 quality of the artwork varied widely.
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 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.
Collectors have assigned names to several anonymous artists with recognizable styles: “Mr. Prolific” (the creator of the “Adventures of a Fuller Brush Man” series, sometimes said to have been Rankin), “Mr. Dyslexic” (a clumsy, semi-literate artist who produced a number of titles in the postwar period, some with political content), “Blackjack”, whose work sometimes resembled linoleum block prints, and “Artist No. 4”, an early and witty creator of the 1930s who rivaled Mr. Prolific in talent, popularity and productivity
Most Tijuana bibles were obscene parodies of popular newspaper comic strips of the day, like “Blondie”, “Barney Google”, “Moon Mullins”, “Popeye”, “Tillie and Mac”, “Boots”, “Dick Tracy”, “L’il Orphan Annie”, “Betty Boop”, “Dixie Dugan”, “Flash Gordon”, and “Mutt and Jeff”. Others made use of characters based on popular movie stars and sports stars of the day, like Mae West and Joe Louis, sometimes with names thinly changed to (presumably) avoid libel.
Before the war almost all the stories were humorous and frequently were retellings in comic strip form of well-known dirty jokes that had been making the rounds for decades.
The scale on which Tijuana bibles were produced can be gauged from the large hauls announced in police seizures. In one November, 1942 raid by FBI agent P.E. Foxworth and his men on a New York City warehouse and a printing plant in the South Bronx, 8 million bibles were reported seized.