Tijuana Bibles

Tijuana Bibles are small eight-page publications of cartoon erotica and pornography that became popular during the 1930’s and 1940’s in USA and are commonly described as ‘eight-pagers’ or ‘dirty little books’.

The term “Tijuana bibles” was first noted in Southern California in the late 1940’s and refers to the belief that they were manufactured and smuggled across the border from Tijuana, Mexico.

Tijuana bibles were sold under the counter for 25 cents in places where men congregated, such as bars, bowling alleys, car repair shops, tobacco shops, barber shops, and burlesque houses.

The Tijuana bibles include a wide range of characters, many inspired by mainstream media and celebrities. The most frequently used characters were from newspaper comic strips, including Andy Gump, Betty Boop, Blondie and Dagwood, Dick Tracy, Ella Cinders, Dumb Dora, Wimpy, Pete the Tramp, Tillie the Toiler, and Popeye.

Other bibles include generic figures such as travelling salesmen (including a vacuum cleaner man, a book salesman, a radio salesmen, and so on); parodies of real people, including Nazis, boxer Joe Louis, and other celebrities; or versions of popular movie heroines, such as Snow White or Mae West.

These publications were cheaply made, with no designated publishers creating the books. They do however adheres to a fairly consistent format, measuring approximately 3 inches x 5 inches in size and contain 8 pages.

They are generally printed in black and white on poor quality paper with the front cover containing the character found within and held together with 1 staple. The back cover contains no print and is left blank. Publisher names, artists and dates are not present on the publication.

A Tijuana bible version of the Phantom was created with slightly varying formats and designs, titled ‘The Special Visit’. It contains 8 black and white pages in landscape format, measuring 6.6cm x 9.5cm.

A small sample of Tijuana bibles featuring other characters can be seen below.