Tijuana Bibles

by Bob Adelman


Simon & Schuster, New York. Oversized paperback, 160 pages. Profusely (and grotesquely) illustrated throughout.

Okay, so this topic doesn't have anything at all to do with Mass Market books, per se ... but they WERE paperbacks, and they were very American. For those of you not familiar with these little books, they were very small (about 3" X 4"), very thin (most were 8 pages), very dirty (I believe they would be considered "pornography" in just about anybody's definition of the word), cheap, stapled, pulp paperbacks. There were about a thousand of them.

A hundred are reproduced in the book, in their entirety and uncensored.

These were the first underground comics, published in the 1930's, 40's & 50's. Adleman does a very good job of picking out any redeeming qualities to be recognized in this odd phenomenon. There actually are a few. They most certainly provided a [crude] comment about life (and fantasy) in the years during the depression and the war. They mercilessly parodied characters from all of the major newspaper comics pages, as well as several Hollywood celebrities.

Absolutely nothing was sacred.