Cheerfully Yodeling In the Canyon

The Tijuana Bibles. Likely more wholesome than a Calvin Klein billboard or American Apparel print ad, at least based on the theory that appealing to the prurient interest is a socially redeeming value. There’s a certain wacky innocence to them,in a non-innocent way; despite their furtive prurience. ’‘ Cartoons have a way  of crawling past our critical radar and getting right into the id. It may be that their reductive diagramatic qualities echo the way the brain sorts information. This subversive knack for lodging memorably in the deepest crevices of the psyche has never been more clearly demonstrated than by the genre of comic-book pamphlets sometimes known as Tijuana Bibles that first flourished in the thirties. They were cheerfully pornographic and downright illegal.” ( Art Spiegelman )tijuana3

Tijuana Bibles,the word itself a blasphemous contradiction,  arose out of the blue collar sexual repression in America at that time of the Depression. They and ran counter to notions of sophisticated modern pornography, but not taking itself serious A collection of  sexual and satiric content that alternatively amused and offended. Certainly risque, but not weird or perverse.They were the precursors to Harvey Krutzman’s Mad Magazine and the work of Robert Crumb.They also revealed alot about male sexual anxiety,and fear of women as well. tijuana2

 The irreverence and cheekiness has not been lost on Tango soft drinks in Britain. Britvic PLC has run some billboard ads that use the graphic style of the Bibles to reach the same adolescent market. The Bibles were clandestinely produced and distributed  in small booklets form, that chronicled the explicit sexual adventures of America’s most beloved comic-strip characters, celebrities, and folk-heroes by pirating and reappropriating them into the format. Production and distribution was strictly underground and printing quality quite poor. About 700-100o were published and the entire canon is characterized by an undeviating devotion to a singular theme.They were short in length, but firm in purpose.tijuana1

There’s a good marriage of form and content in these books: pornography and cartoons are both about the stripping-away of dignity; both depend on exaggeration; and both deploy what Susan Sontag, in “The Pornographic Imagination,” calls “a theater of types, never of individuals.”( Art Spiegelman ) The exaggeration and expansive gestures does have a certain resemblence to German expressionism of the post wwI period. The main issue in Dix for example, as well ,was whether women were engaging in sex solely for pleasure or for fun and profit.tango4

‘The Fuck Books were not overtly political but were by their nature anti-authoritarian, a protest against what Freud called Civilization and Its Discontents. Here was a populist way to rebel against the mass media and advertising designed to titillate and manipulate, but never satisfy. Betty Boop, Greta Garbo, and Clara Bow all radiated sex appeal on screen, but they werecock-teasers, never quite delivering what they promised …”Significantly, these books spread the hot news that women actually enjoyed sex and that even fat people like Oliver Hardy and Kate Smith could be sexy. They taught that, despite the mortifying shame of it all, cunnilingus (in these books called “pearl fishing,” “whistling in the whiskers,” or “yodeling in the canyon”) was fun. To understand how shameful oral sex was believed to be, class, you need only to turn to “Mussolini in Ethiopia” on page 124, a giddily primitive Eight-Pager drawn by Mr. Dyslexic’s dad, with its memorable punch line: “You-like-to-have-your-pussy-sucked-I-get-Hitler-for-you.” ( Art Spiegelman )

tango with added tango from the top down spells twat

tango with added tango from the top down spells twat

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4 Responses to Cheerfully Yodeling In the Canyon

  1. LOVE THE ART!! but the blood and pain is just not my thing!!

  2. Dave says:

    thanks for dropping by.

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