Four Cheap Old Comic Books III

    So It’s taken long enough to get here, and I warned you we won’t be studying the contents of any of them, but I just wanted to let you know what happened when I obtained, and actually read, these four Tijuana Bibles I found online.

    As a brief recap, and to bore you further, Tijuana Bibles are pornographic comic books produced between the 1930s and 1960s, generally the size of a postcard with eight cheaply reproduced pages between cheaply printed construction paper covers.  They frequently, though not always, exploited the names of celebrities, especially people whose names you’d have recognized from the movies or the newspaper comics pages.  (Those of you who just asked “What’s a newspaper?” or “What’s a comics page?” will stay after class for extra homework.)

    The first of the four is “Kathrine Hepbern in ‘Belle of the Hills”.  Spelling a celebrity’s name wrong is basic practice in any kind of parody, and it should not take you long to figure out this is supposed to involve movie icon Katharine Hepburn.  I have not traced a movie or play of hers that I can link with “Belle of the Hills”, but this has nothing to do, as far as I can tell, with what goes on in the book.  And neither does Katharine Hepburn, for that matter.  The face on the cover doesn’t look much like the great Kate at any point in her career, but somebody worked on it.  The pictures in side are basically just showing a man and a woman talking way too much about the eight different sexual positions they try out.  The chances that this was a generic couple and someone tried to increase sales by putting this cover on it strikes me as highly likely.

    This is not a possibility with “Patsy Kelly Gets Shot in the Ass With Romance”, a somewhat less subtle title than that used on most of the dirty little eight-pagers, which often tried to look as blameless as possible on the cover.  Here someone actually has made an effort to get the face of the celebrity right, and a little extra work went into the illustrations, in which the usual eight sex positions are presented with a little more flair, the dialogue shows a bit of wit, and the man is actually himself presented as a celebrity, the role being awarded to Ray Milland.  Ray Milland was a Hollywood stalwart and, by the by, one of those actors who was married to the same wife for over fifty years.  For those unfortunate enough to have missed her movies, Patsy Kelly was a stand-out second banana in motion pictures, frequently the only interesting character in many films, playing the wisecracking best friend, wisecracking waitress, wisecracking nurse, wisecracking secretary, etc.  She noted, in retirement (and film historians agree) that one of the two handicaps which kept her from making it as an A list comedian was her sex life, which was not much like the one depicted here.

    I hope the world has not descended far enough into the new century for me to have to explain the celebrities copied in “Thee Men In a Girl with the Marx Bros.”  This features eight scenes of a cartoon version of Groucho performing eight different ways with his unnamed co-star.  Chico moves in in one panel, and Harpo in another, but that’s the extent of their participation.  It should be noted that both of these brothers appear with their hats on, the cartoonist obviously feeling that only Groucho would be recognizable if completely naked.  (The face is easily worth using in other venues, though his cigar does not make an appearance.)  The dialogue makes an attempt to be worthy of Groucho, and works out pretty much the way it works whenever somebody tries to write Groucho dialogue.

    The foregoing may not lead you to expect much from “Peter B. Everhard presents Moon Mullins in ‘Help!’”  It is by far the best of the lot, however.  Maybe it wasn’t so difficult to draw Moon Mullins, who was a nationally known comic strip character, but this cartoonist has copied him very well.  Furthermore, there is a STORY: Moon approaches an exotic dancer performing in a circus side show and makes a proposition.  This is, in fact, exactly something the real Moon Mullins might have done.  A former professional boxer down on his luck, he spent a lot of his time in his comic strip ogling good-looking women and being rejected by them.  The cooch dancer, to giver her the title which would have been used at the time, feels a two dollar offer is decent pay, this being the Depression, and they retire to a back room where they spend the rest of the pages of the story having sex and insulting each other roundly.  (The prostitute and the customer who insult each other is a standard comedy routine, with two recorded versions in existence from the 1880s.)  This leads to one final payoff joke in the end (showing both partners dissatisfied) and the whole thing would actually have made for a complete Moon Mullins Sunday comic, in some other dimension.

    In all four books, the main interest nowadays are the celebrity impersonations by line drawing equivalents.  The sex, though graphic and  various, is not AS graphic or various as what you could find in three minutes on the Interwebs.  It’s nsfw and only for audiences we unblinkingly call “mature”, but hardly likely to distract someone who reads adult comics online.  Here and there competence sneaks in, though.  I don’t know whether I could have made my way through all fourteen I originally bid on, and there are, after all, hundreds of titles.

     By the way, to save time, a friend of mine has already sold these for me on the Interwebs, with the price realized by Patsy Kelly alone tripling what I spent to buy the four.  Good luck with your garage sale hunting.

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