If you’re under eighteen, or squeamish, or easily offended then there’s nothing for you here, so kindly move along. As for everyone else…
Relatos de Presidio (Tales from Prison) is a lurid blood ‘n’ guts crime comic from Mexico. It is one of the many sensacionales magazines produced in the country which feature explicitly illustrated tales of murder, torture, crime, and horror. True Crime or even Tales from the Crypt it ain’t. It’s more like the kinda thing Quentin Tarantino or Roger Corman might just come up with if ever they put their considerable talents for mayhem towards making adult exploitation comics.
Unlike America, there’s decidedly no comics code in Mexico, which means Relatos de Presidio and all those other sensacionales can get away with showing the most disturbing, violent and eye-poppingly-grotesque images. Don’t take my word for it, just have a swatch at some of the tamer covers below.
These trashy, adult exploitation comics are hugely popular in Mexico. They sell at most newsstands and comic book stores. They’re generally pocket-sized, up to one hundred pages an issue, with four panels to a page. The stories range from “true” tales of drug deals gone wrong to far-out psychos taking unholy revenge on the unfortunate. The covers usually feature scantily-clad, voluptuous women who hover over the bloody action like indifferent goddesses. Sometimes these women are the perpetrators. Most times their presence is just for mere titillation.
According to Horrorpedia, sensacionales have “a unique place in Mexican culture” which came about after the American superhero comics nearly destroyed the homegrown comic book industry in the 1980s. Where once Mexican comics like Pepín, Fantomas, and Memín Penguín sold millions of copies, the arrival of Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and the Avengers led to ” the perception that comics were only for kids” and the indigenous comic industry almost disappeared. It was, therefore, only the adult exploitation mags or sensacionales which survived and thrived.
I guess this is one of the few times where you can absolutely judge a book by its cover!
More lurid covers, after the jump…