Tijuana Bibles were eight-page, hand-sized comic books featuring well-known cartoon characters, sporting heroes, and Hollywood film stars in a sequence of hardcore sexual shenanigans. They first appeared sometime in the 1920s as illustrated dirty jokes featuring squeaky clean comic strip characters like Tillie the Toiler and Jiggs and Maggie from “Bringing Up Baby.” The more straightlaced the character, the more outrageous the smut.
Their instant success led to far more explicit hardcore tales featuring famous movie stars like Mae West, Robert Mitchum, Dorothy Lamour, Greta Garbo, even Laurel & Hardy, alongside such well-loved cartoon figures as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Popeye and Betty Boop porking the fuck out of everything that moved. They were cheap titillation intended to arouse and (in their own way) educate the virginal. They were subversive and offensively humorous.
The name “Tijuana Bible” came from the mistaken belief these comics were produced south of the border and smuggled into the USA. They were actually produced and printed in the States by local artists and independent businesses who hid behind fake publishing titles like “London Press” and “Tobasco Publishing Co.” They were sold under-the-counter in tobacco shops, bars, barbers and bowling alleys at 25 cents a pop. Their greatest popularity was during the Depression of the 1930s, eventually petering out with the arrival of real porn mags in the 1950s. Tijuana Bibles are now considered by many comic book historians to be among the very first underground comix. More importantly, these cheaply produced comic books helped unfetter sex and sexuality from the weight of societal and religious strictures of guilt and taboo by making sex seem fun, natural, and something to be greatly enjoyed.