When our grand-dads were our age they spent a lot of their downtime looking at porn. Dirty little drawings showing celebrities in compromising situations, fantasy fiction with cute cartoon characters porking each other and tall tales of ugly joes bedding beautiful, desperate women. God, what pervs, they were so pathetic. As a society we've matured quite a bit from the juvenile depravity of our ancestors so it's a lot of fun to look back at what kind of smut got them off.
As my grand-dad used to tell me when I was a kid: "Watch what you click on, they may not be safe for work, boy." He was right.
Something that was really popular back in the early half of the 20th century were illegal underground comics referred to as "8 pagers" or "Tijuana Bibles". These little black and white pamphlets were crude, offensive, sometimes ineptly drawn, riddled with typos and had copyright infringement written all over them. The following are a sample of 10 of the best...well, "best" may be inappropriate praise to bestow on any of these but here are 10 that stand out as intriguing curiousities of a forgotten era.
10. BARNEY GOOGLE
You all know Barney Google, him with the goo-goo-googly eyes. Well, this is one of the rare 8 pagers that is actually pretty funny. The joke being that little Barney Google couldn't please a woman on a bet and has to bring in a ringer to get the job done. I love the little sight gag of the statue getting a hard-on and the pull-out-all-the-stops moment when Barney resorts to going down on the woman while making it clear that he doesn't enjoy doing that sort of thing. Reminds me of that great Sopranos episode when Uncle Junior is humiliated when word gets around that he was good at performing cunnilingus.
9. LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE IN "THE SNOOPER"
Thankfully this is not what you think it would be. Well, alright we do get a little into the bestio-pedophilia area towards the end but this is really about Daddy Warbucks getting off and Little Orphan Annie is off to the side, watching curiously. I like how the sex between the two adults seems more kinky than it actually is simply by having Miss Brown calling out Daddy's name while they're doing it. The last panel comes through with a typical Tijuana-style punchline that tries to remind you that you're reading something that's supposed to be funny. Of course if you find a dog humping a little girl funny than you're really messed up, sicko.
9. THE WORLD'S FAIR
I can't say I know much about what went on at the 1939 World's Fair but if the many Tijuana Bibles that feature it are to be believed it was like the wildest Spring Break ever. Sex on scooters, blowjobs on hot air balloons, tits hanging out everywhere you look. Must have been some time. One thing to note about the various World's Fair themed books is that they're some of the few Tijuana Bibles that can be attributed to a real name: Wesley Morse, who is perhaps better known as being the artist on the Bazooka Joe bublegum comics. There's a little tidbit for your next cocktail party. Just tell them you read it here at yesbutnobutyes.com.
7. MAE WEST IN "THE LAST RESORT"
Before we had the pleasure of celebrity sex tapes, the best we could do was draw really bad cartoons of celebrities like Mae West or Dorothy Lamour or Laurel and Hardy (yikes!) getting it on with common folk. Mae West - or shall we use her Tijuana Bible name, "Mae Breast" - stars in this heartbreaking story about a poor immigrant who gives away his hard-earned dollar for a chance with Miss West only to have her take his dollar leaving him with his dick in his hand. This is the kind of comic that Tom Tancredo would give his support to.
Hey look here's Mae West getting it on with Lou Gehrig! Hot!!
6. BLONDIE AND DAGWOOD
The marital life of Blondie and Dagwood is the subject of many a Tijuana Bible, each a reaffirming testament to the beauty of a healthy sex life between a husband and a wife. It's really kind of sweet.
There's tons of Blondie and Dagwood action here.
5. ROBERT MITCHUM IN "GOOF BUTTS"
Famous movie star Robert Mitchum stars in this cautionary tale of the dangers of smoking "Goof Butts". We all know what smoking goof butts can lead to. It's only a matter of seconds after smoking her first goof butt that Linda starts reaching for something else to smoke. Oh yeah, and then Bob seems to get nabbed for drug posession and gets hauled off to the slammer, presumably to star in some prison-themed 8-pager. Goof butts can ruin your life, kids.
Read the whole thing here.
There is so much wrong with this one and Popeye knocking a door down with his spinach-fueled hard-on is just the tip of the...something. Basically, our hero saves a damsel in distress from being raped only to then proceed to rape her. Even going so far as to double team her with some snaggle-toothed fuck named Toar. Man, this comic will really make you hate Popeye.
It is somewhat comical in it's sheer despicableness though. I would guess the poor woman knew there was something off when the first thing her hero does is call her a "split-tail bitch". I also love the woman's exclamation "Sweet Shit!" which seems to be a common phrase in these things. By the way, if you think this one is offensive just be glad I didn't show the one where Popeye goes to Africa.
Read the rest of this sordid tale here.
3. THE FULLER BRUSH MAN
The Fuller Brush Man was the Pizza Delivery Boy or the Pool Cleaner of the early 1900s. A traveling salesman who would always find himself at the door of a sex-starved housewife with an itch that only a Fuller Brush could scratch. There were quite a lot of 8 pagers starring Fuller Brush Men which I think actually says a lot about the cartoonist's personal lives. Do cartoonists live such unexciting lives that they resort to fantasizing about the sex lives of door-to-door salesmen?
The Fuller Brush Man has had many a sexual adventure and sometimes his adventures don't even involving brushes or the selling of anything except himself as this strip called "Hot Pants" shows. Oh, look she says "Sweet Shit!" I need to start using that.
2. DONALD DUCK
This one is kind of disturbing and offensive but what do you expect from Donald Duck? He's always been kind of a prick. You could probably spend hours psycho-analyzing Donald's rampant homophobia and refusual to give what he takes during this homosexual encounter but if you want to spend hours with this strip then be my guest. I'll be in the corner trying desperately to un-see it.
1. WIMPY IN "BACK TO HIS FIRST LOVE"
I have to give the grand prize to this little tale because it gets a lot of things right. Not only is the drawing style leagues ahead of a lot of the crap you see in these things but the artist manages to tell a story about Popeye's friend Wimpy getting laid by a random hot chick and yet it all feels true to the character. Plus, it's kind of funny. Not just because of the slapstick ending but also because of that bizarre first panel which just drops us into the middle of a tiff between two bored lesbians.
Read the whole story here.
If you want more there's not a whole lot of places on the web to find Tijuana Bibles but the best place to go is where most of this list came from: tijuanabibles.org. From there check out tijuana-bible.com where you can purchase some and www.antiqueweird.com/article/article.htm to find even more. Plus Art Spiegelman wrote a great essay for Salon a few years back and he edited a giant book full of them that you can get on Amazon.