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The dirty little history of Eight Pager Comics

Scan of the cover of a en:Tijuana bible featuring Wimpy

Eight Pager Comics or Tijuana Bibles

Panel from a "Tillie and Mac" tijuana bible comic strip

Eight-pager comics, also known as Tijuana bibles, bluesies, jo-jo books, gray-backs, blue bibles, and two-by-fours, were palm-sized pornographic comic books that were very popular in the United States during the 1930’s. Most men on that generation were exposed to eight-pager comics at one time or another.

Created as 8-panel comic strips in a wallet size 3 by 4-inch format, printed on heavy colored stock, and running eight pages long, the subjects ranged from well-known comic strip characters, popular movie stars, to prominent political figures and often contained ethnic stereotypes.

Tijuana Bible Origins

Eight page comic - She ate a word's fair hot dog

The Tijuana Bible name came from fictitious Mexican addresses often given as the place of publication although it is not clear where they were created. Many felt they were created in the back rooms of New York city comic bookstores. Some believed they were created and distributed by the Mob and there seems to be some evidence that this may be true.

Will Eisner (creator of the masked crime fighter, Spirit) was working in a New York City printing shop where he recalls being solicited to draw Tijuana Bibles for $3.00 per page. He noted that the man soliciting his services was straight out of the Mob and exclaimed exclusive distribution rights for all of Brooklyn. Eisner politely turned down the offer.

Eight pagers could be purchased in cigar stores, barber shops, or burlesque houses and were shared at schools, back-room card games, as well as on the battleground during wars. Buying one would set you back fifty cents to five bucks depending on the quality and content. These million-dollar businesses ran during the height of the Great Depression.

What were Eight-Pagers?

 Last panel of a Tijuana bible based upon 1930s comic strip character "Chris Crusty"

Most Tijuana Bibles were obscene parodies of popular newspaper comic strips of the day and chronicled their explicit sexual adventures. Some featured the sexual escapades of popular film stars such as Laurel and Hardy, Mae West, The Marx Brothers, and Clark Gable and influenced the “Hollywood Babylon” aura that was perpetuated during the 1930’s. Others focused on world leaders such as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin.

They were illegal at the time and authorities often seized shipments before they could be distributed. In November 1942, New York City Police and the FBI raided an eight-pager warehouse in the South Bronx. They reportedly seized 8 million Tijuana Bibles and learned that seven tons of material had already gone out the door and were sitting at regional distribution centers in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Indianapolis.

At the 1939 World’s Fair, employees sold the pornographic booklets under the counter at some of the rides for 25 cents. They were tailed by the police to a Brooklyn Navy Yard where 350,000 copies and several printing plates were confiscated. Still, they retained their popularity.

Who wrote them?

Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Popeye

The Tijuana Bible artists typically authored their work anonymously or used fictitious pen names such as Mr. Prolific (who experts believe may have created up to 30% of the existing Eight-Pagers), Mr. Dyslexic, Blackjack, Square Knob, and Artist No. 4. Some, such as Wesley Morse, author of the Bazooka Joe series of comics, went on to create legitimate work. Many simply retold popular “dirty jokes” that were making the rounds in popular culture. Most were published by non-existent companies such as such as “London Press”, “La France Publishing,” and “Tobasco Publishing Co.” Often, they were redrawn and copied for decades with the later copies being nearly illegible.

Authors attempted to expand eight-pagers from eight to sixteen, twenty-four, and even thirty-two page epics but with the decline of censorship in the 1950’s, and the emergence of legitimate magazines such as Playboy in 1955, the popularity of eight-pagers quickly declined.

Geek Slop’s Eight-Pager Comics/Tijuana Bibles virtual museum

Image Credits

Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Tillie the Toiler via Ebay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - The Auto Salesman via Ebay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Jiggs via Ebay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Popeye via EBay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Donald Duck via EBay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Phantom via The Phantom with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Bunky via EBay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Dagwood has a family party via EBay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Hiakett in Endorsed via The Phantom with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Appo in Haunted via The Phantom with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Wimpy in Back to his first love via Ebay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - The Frigidaire salesman via EBay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Moon Mullins in Treat em with kindness via EBay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Wash Tubbs and Easy in Captured via EBay with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Al Capone in The Interview via The Phantom with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Tillie and Mac via The Phantom with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Robert Mitchum in Good Butts via The Phantom with usage type - Public Domain
Tijuana Bible 8-pager comic - Sadie and the Milkman via The Phantom with usage type - Public Domain
AN ORIGINAL 1930's "TIJUANA BIBLE" OR "EIGHT PAGER" TITLED "DICK TRACY IN "THE SMUGGLER" via Abe Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1930
Laurel and Hardy (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
Dan Dunn, Secret Operative "48" (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
Rubinoff and His Etchings in "Play This One on Your Violin" by Holden Hiss (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
Radio's Kate Smitz "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain" (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1932
Hairbreadth Harry in "The Rescue" (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
"Legs" Diamond in "Strip Poker" VII. (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1930
Tu Yung Tu Presents Smilin' Jack in "Air Necking" (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
Position is Everything in Life with Lew Lehr (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
Dorothy Lamour in "Purple Passion in the South Seas" by Dewey Twatt (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain
E. T. Inth' Loop Presents Rosie's Beau (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1930
Shining Knight in "A Dead Night" (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1945
Oliver Crappe Presents Major Hoople in "What Would You Do?" (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1930
Dumb Dora's Game (Not So Dumb) (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1930
Moon Mullins in "Treat 'em With Kindness" (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1930
Judge Puffle in "Paid" (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1940
Schnozzle (Jimmy Durante) (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1930
Sonja Henie and Tyrone Power in "Hot Stuff on the Ice" (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1937
Millé Zonga The Fan Dancer Gets an Encore (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
Captain Marvel Jr. (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1945
Harold Teen in "The Cave-Man" III. (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1930
Miss Annibelle in "Drink Up" 1. (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Free Photo Website. 1935
Tiger Girl (Tijuana Bible, 8-Pager) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1944
"Baby Face" Nelson in "Oh Yeah" VI (Tijuana Bible) via Hang Fire Books with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
Eight page comic - She ate a word's fair hot dog via Collectors Weekly with usage type - Public Domain
Eight page comic - She got the fastest ride of her life via Collectors Weekly with usage type - Public Domain
Eight page comic - Jitterbug bug contest via Collectors Weekly with usage type - Public Domain
Eight page comic - She got the job via Collectors Weekly with usage type - Public Domain
Eight pager comic - Relentless Rudolph in High Finance via Pinterest with usage type - Public Domain
Eight pager comic - Laughs De Luxe via Pinterest with usage type - Public Domain
Last panel of a Tijuana bible based upon 1930s comic strip character "Chris Crusty" via Wikipedia Commons by Tijuana Bibles with usage type - Public Domain
Scan of the cover of a en:Tijuana bible featuring Wimpy via Wikipedia Commons with usage type - Public Domain. 1930's
Panel from a "Tillie and Mac" tijuana bible comic strip via Wikipedia Commons by Haks Auctions with usage type - Public Domain. 1935
Cover of a 1936 "tijuana bible" Wall and the Sultan via Wikipedia Commons by Ebay with usage type - Public Domain. 1936
Cover of a ca. 1936 Tijuana bible: "The Adventures of a Fuller Brush Man" via Wikipedia Commons by Vintage Nude Photos with usage type - Public Domain. 1936
Cover only of a clandestine "Tijuana bible" comic circulated anonymously in the mid-1930s via Wikipedia Commons by Ebay with usage type - Public Domain. 1935

Featured Image Credit

Scan of the cover of a en:Tijuana bible featuring Wimpy via Wikipedia Commons with usage type - Public Domain. 1930's