Monday, May 11, 2009


I was first exposed to Ghetto Librettos about eight years ago at one of Texas’s biggest flea markets. I had just scored some classic lounge vinyl and I was making my way out the exit when something caught my eye.

There was a little table set out under the hot Texas sun, behind it sat a little Mexican woman who had to be in her seventies. What caught my eye were these little five by five inch comics. They all had wonderfully lurid covers, some were sexy, some violent, some both. I picked up a few and thumbed through them, I knew immediately I had to have them.

I grabbed about ten out of the hundred the little old woman had, some had a U.S. dollar price tag on them. I asked in English “how much?” Looking back on it now she might have understood me perfectly, at the time I thought she just didn’t understand. I pulled out a twenty and tried to trade her for the comics. She kept telling me “no, no, no”. I thought she didn’t have change for the twenty, so rather abruptly I set the twenty on the table and marched off with the small comic books.

Looking back on it now, she might have just not wanted a gringo to have these dirty little comics from Mexico.

I went home and did some research on the web, I couldn’t find a thing I didn’t even know what they were properly called. Every once in a while I would come across them in my comic collection, and do another google search. About six years ago I found an article about them on the web, found out they were called Ghetto Librettos and that they were widely read, very cheap, and looked down upon by the governing censor groups.

Within the same search results were references and reviews of a comic zine titled “The Imp”. I read a small review that said issue four of The Imp was devoted to Ghetto Librettos. It has taken me six years to track down a copy of The Imp issue four, but as of this writing I hold it in my hands. Review below.

The Imp #4 Hestorietas Perversas, Mexico’s Addictive Comics

This is by far the most complete, informative, and well researched text in the English language on Ghetto Librettos. This dense small press comic zine is everything I was hoping Anne Rubenstein’s book would be.

The author of the zine Daniel Raeburn does an excellent job discussing the Ghetto Libretto’s history, artwork, story lines, and their impact on Mexican culture. He also goes into great detail on some American’s views on these works. This book is beautifully illustrated with cover and interior art reproductions of some well and not so well known titles.

Although some of the information is outdated, for instance when this publication went to press these comics did not feature XXX scenes. That added to their charm, the way they went around about way of illustrating the stories was unique and left more room for the shocking story lines. As of now they have almost all gone hardcore. The covers are now more than merely suggestive and the story lines are mainly there to frame sex scenes.

I absolutely love this zine, the wait was well worth it in the end. The Imp Issue four can be bought at Buds Art Books, here. While you’re at it look around and pick something else up, his prices are reasonable and he ships fast. Tell him lurid lit sent you.

In celebration of those dirty little comics here are a few scans from my (now huge) collection. If you're hungry for more check this out.

These first few are from the pre-hardcore days:

Hardcore or Modern Age covers below:

1 comment:

Mel Bosworth said...

Wow. Great write-up. Great pics. Wow.

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