In the midst of the great depression, the public hungered for relief from their daily hardships, and found it in bootlegged booze, jazz music and those dirty little books now called the Tijuana Bibles.
The first underground comics and precursor to the comic book (where do you think they got the idea?), Tijuana Bibles were produced and distributed by the organized underworld. Of course they weren't called Tijuana Bibles in the 1930's, that's a more contemporary, regional term born in the late 1940's as cheap reprints became a border town staple ..... but it was so fitting it stuck!
Though he wasn't the first Tijuana Bible creator, the success of the genre rests firmly on the shoulders of an artist dubbed "Mr.Prolific". As capable as "Doc" Winner, William Randolph Hearst's comic art troubleshooter, Prolific could mimic any artists style and produced hundreds of Tijuana Bibles between 1932 and 1937. A great unsung comics innovator his parodies of comic characters directly influenced the creators of Mad Magazine as well as Robert Crumb and the Underground Comics revolution of the 1970's. Mr. Prolific's Tijuana Bibles have been continually reprinted for over seventy years.
Another important TijuanaBible contributor was Wesley Morse. Well known for his classic Bazooka Joe comics, Morse's 1939 Worlds Fair Tijuana Bibles are among the most popular and collectible. A veteran of syndicated comics and advertising, his work had a open whimsical quality that has never been rivaled.
The man / woman called Blackjack was the dominant Tijuana Bible force of the late 1930's. Seemingly sandwiched between the time of Prolific and Morse, his/her work is a sharp contrast to either of them. Though he/she created some comic character parodies, the majority of Blackjack's Tijuana Bibles poked fun at Hollywood Celebrities. There were number of other Tijuana Bible artists of the 1930's , though none of them produced the volume of these three. We will attempt to provide examples of as many as possible in this site's Tijuana Bible library.
There was little new product in the early 1940's, though Tijuana Bible reprints were available. After World War II production began again, but the creative quality would never rival the 1930's classics which are reprinted ad nauseam. The poor production and bad reproduction ( the result of multiple generations of re-photographing older comics), gave the TijuanaBibles a negative reputation. In the mail order section of cheap pulp magazines, look alike 8 pagers, consisting of non pornographic gag cartoons, are marketed with bait & switch come ons..... the Tijuana Bible was transformed from illicit pornography to Adult Novelty!
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