Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and forty-fourth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Carl Barks used to draw “Tijuana Bibles.”
I’m Going With False
Carl Barks is one of the most popular comic book artists of the 20th Century, and yet for most of that time, he did not even get credit for his stories, so people knew him only as “The Good Duck Artist,” as his work on Donald Duck and later, Uncle Scrooge (who Barks created), stories stood out so much from the rest of the books being put out by Disney that everyone knew that he was special…they just didn’t know his name.
When they all learned his name, he became comic book royalty throughout the world (although, annoyingly, the one place where he was not quite as famous was his home country of the United States, where Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics were never quite as held in the same esteem as they were around the world, despite being some of the best-selling comics of their era in the States. For almost a decade from the late 1940s through the late 1950s, there were essentially two perennial top sellers for comic book series – Superman and Donald Duck.
Anyhow, my pal Wayne asked me if it was true that Barks used to draw “Tijuana Bibles.” Tijuana bibles were crudely drawn, flimsy pamphlets that were filled with pornographic versions of famous comic strip characters and also famous celebrities.
Even Disney characters got into the act…
It would honestly not be THAT shocking if Barks HAD drawn Tijuana Bibles, as he was a struggling artist in his early days in the 1920s. However, Barks is so famous that we actually have a pretty good record of his goings-on in those times and it does not appear as though he ever did a Tijuana Bible.
That isn’t to say that Barks didn’t draw racy cartoons, as he most certainly DID. He often tried out for the men’s magazines of the era, who had racy comic strips in them. He eventually got an editing gig at one of them, a Minnesota-based magazine called the Calgary Eye-Opener. He worked there for roughly eight years. He left to get a gig working for Walt Disney as an animation artist. He left that gig to draw comic books and the rest became history.
During this time, he drew plenty of racy cartoons, like this one…
And there were plenty of nude drawings by Barks. But they were all for men’s magazines, like the Calgary Eye-Opener or for Dell Comics’ Ballyhoo…
So I’m going with a false here, even if perhaps Wayne really wanted to just know if Barks did racy cartoons back in the day, in which case the answer is obviously yes (heck, Barks kept doing racy drawings even after he was famous. It just wasn’t what he did professionally any more).
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed – Did Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew need special protection while filming in the Redwood forests of California to make sure people didn’t shoot him, thinking he was Big Foot?
OK, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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See you all next week!
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