R.F. Outcault's the Yellow Kid : A Centennial Celebration of the Kid Who Started the Comics
by R. F. Outcault
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Tijuana Bibles : Art and Wit in America's Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s
by Bob Adelman, Richard Merkin, Art Spiegelman (Introduction)
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Hardcover - 160 pages (September 1997)
Simon & Schuster; ISBN: 0684834618 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.69 x 9.32 x 12.06
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When Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, and other Bay Area misfits first started producing "underground" comics in the '60s, they were considered to be highly innovative in their use of frank sexual themes. However, some 10 to 15 years before they commenced their explicit, often offensive cartoons, another genre of pornographic graphics was dying out, the so-called "Tijuana Bibles" (or sometimes "Cuban Bibles," "French Bibles," etc.). Simon & Schuster has released a collection of these antique obscenities that often featured famous political, show business, or cartoon figures having more fun than mainstream censors would have allowed. The introduction, by comic book apologist and New Yorker comics editor Art Spiegelman, is an amusing and sarcastic look at the history of this lost medium, with some interesting reflections on the genre, noting that "Though there are bound to be those who will loudly declaim that the Tijuana Bibles demean women, I think it important to note that they demean everyone ... it's what cartoons do best." While the reprinted comic strips are often amusing in being laughingly bad, the historical essays and asides by editor Bob Adelman provide fascinating historical context. A sociology of mid-century sexual mores and the love/hate relationship that Americans have with their celebrities is evinced by the combination of reprint and commentary.