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Knowledge Waits: Superhero Tijuana Bibles

This is the latest in a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me. Here is a collection of all of the installments in the feature so far.

The other day, I did a legend about whether there was a “nude” cheat code in the original Tomb Raider video game. It reminded me of the obsession people have with seeing famous characters in “sexy” situations, which in part drove the “Tijuana Bible” market of the 1920s to the early 1960s. Most of the characters featured were comic strip characters or celebrities, but a few of them were superheroes (famously, Watchmen shows Silk Spectre having Tijuana Bibles made about her – she was both a superhero AND a celebrity!). The website tijuanabibles.org has a bunch of these X-rated parody strips. I’ll show you the covers to three of them.

fs_Capt_Marvel_Jr-0

fs_Plastic_Man_in_the_Stretch-0

Plastic Man turns himself into a chair in this one when a woman sits down.

fs_Superboy_in_Big_Bet-0

Here, Superboy saves a woman and she says she’ll do anything for him and he says he wouldn’t mind some oral sex, which she finds reasonable.

Pretty weird stuff. Not as weird as the Donald Duck one that’s out there if you look for it, of course, but still weird!

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My first introduction to this art form was Bob Adelman’s excellent book “Tijuana Bibles” which reprints several dozen bibles and puts them in proper historical context. They aren’t very arousing but they are quite an interesting historical artifact. The book features an introduction by Art Spiegelman, who reveals that Wesley Morse (longtime Topps artist and the creator of Bazooka Joe) drew several bibles in the 30s and 40s.

It’s also fun to look at old pulp magazines and see ads for bibles carefully worded to avoid the authorities-remember that they were illegal at the time. My favorite description? “The kind men like!”

I remember reading one weird Tijuana Bible (reprinted in one of the collections of such things) that featured a whole lot of Golden Age superheroes having sex (including Batman and Robin with each other). What made it super creepy was that the point-of-view character was a little girl who kept being told to “come back when you’re older”–so that they could then have sex with her too. And in the end someone magically turns her into a grownup and has sex with her. Soooo creepy.

Is that where the idea for Arisia came from?

Man, if you can’t come up with a better scenario for Plas than “he turns into a chair”, you’re just not trying!

buttler-I remember that one, “Little Anna Mae in Comic Land”. That one was audacious even for the genre. It also had Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel in what was probably the first depiction of twincest.

For such stuff, look into Wallace Wood?

Woody used characters from superheroes to Disney in his 1960s and 1970s comics. Some are softcore (SALLY FORTH or PIPSQUEAK PAPERS/NUDINE), others hardcore (FAR-OUT FABLES or NAUGHTY KNOTTY WOODY, including “Malice in Wonderland”, “Slipping Beauty”, “Flasher Gordon”, “Disneyland Memorial Orgy”, “Dragonella”, etc.).

Unlike most TJBs, it’s actually well-drawn, imaginative, sometimes even funny or arousing.

And then of course, there’s his self-parody of “My World”, the 1975 3-pager “My Word” (NSFW), for instance at http://johnglenntaylor.blogspot.com/2010/04/nsfw-week-wally-woods-my-word.html

I’m reminded of John Byrne saying that most superheroes have porn-sounding names. Plastic Man? Superboy? At least they didn’t get around to the Marvel heroes and gems like Iron Man and Mister Fantastic and the Thing.

Also, it is very understandable why a lot of old pulp magazines had salacious covers with obvious male gaze. Porn wasn’t even legal.

Rene- “At least they didn’t get around to the Marvel heroes and gems like Iron Man and Mister Fantastic and the Thing.”

(insert obligatory GIANT SIZE MAN-THING joke here)

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