Growing up I'd see Mexican raunchy comics everywhere. They were sold in liquor stores and Mexican markets. I'd catch my dad flipping through them at El Charrito Market; my home town's first, and for many years only Mexican market. Finding your dad's or bachelor uncle's pornocomics stash could be considered the equivalent of a white kid coming across his older brother's Playboy Magazine stash. We'd go to Mexico and they were in every news stand, out in the open, and easily available to anyone. You'd see the working class men pull them out of their back pocket and start to read them during their lunch breaks. You simply could not miss them.
They're known by many names; sencacionales, ghetto librettos, historietas perversas, or pornocomics. These small, 6x5 pocket sized Mexican comics reigned supreme during the late 70's, 80's, and 90's. Mexican historietas were notable for their diverse genres that made way for comics targeted to specific demographics. Genres included humor, adventure, police and crime, political satire, romance, horror, slice-of-life, fashion, sports, superhero, western, and science fiction. Later on, in order to compete with the internet, these evolved into more sexually explicit, raw, and vulgar story lines. These new and diversified themes included gore, narco violence, witchcraft, and flat out porn, thus putting an end to the traditional, fun, and picaresque story lines that made these comics so popular.
They've been satanized and labeled as garbage literature and looked down upon by most of Mexican society, cheap entertainment for the ignorant and the uneducated. It is popular believe that these served to distract the poor and working class from all the wrong doings of the government. It was during their 20 year popularity spell that the country suffered one of its worst economic downturns, sky high prices, unemployment, crime, and crooked alliances between corporations and the government. Sensacionales were considered a home remedy to distract the poor from the nationwide corruption that affected their daily lives; very well applying the popular saying, "Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt."
Editorial EJEA was the main producer of these popular styles of comics. The name is an acronym for the company's founder Everardo Flores' son's first names; Enrique, Jaime, Everardo, and Alberto. Their main tittles included;
— Sensacional de Traileros
— Sensacional de Mercados
— Sensacional de Luchas
— Sensacional de Barrios
— Los Sensacionales Chafiretes
— Los Sensacionales Maestros las Chalanas y demás Chambitas
— ¡Así Soy…! ¿Y qué?
During the 90's two new companies emerged, Toukan and Mango. These two were founded by the grandsons of Everardo Flores, the founder of Editorial EJEA. Editoriales Toukan and Mango gave way to the new generation of sensacionales; during their peak, these companies distributed millions of comics. Some of the most popular tittles would average one million distributed copies per week. Their popular tittles included;
— Las Chambeadoras Pa’ Servirle a Usté
— Luchas Calientes y Las Gordas del Ring
— Acá los Maistros y sus Chalanas
— Bellas de Noche Cariñosas y Seductoas
— Relatos de Presidio
— Delmonico’s Erotika
— Almas Perversas
— El Libro Siniestro
Besides the internet, senscacionales' second blow to the gut were politics. Their downfall begins when the Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) took office. The right wing party's moralists took it upon themselves to go after the industry through censorship and by making it harder to distribute and purchase the comics. Editorial EJEA's tittles during the 80's and 90's had sexually suggestive themes and story lines, at the very most you'd see an erect nipple through clothing, and the sex scenes consisted mostly of silhouettes. When Toukan and Mango decided to turn up the heat on their comics to compete with the internet, the government punished them with censorship and a mandatory "Adults Only" sticker. The more censorship the government applied, the more defiant Toukan and Mango became and the more they pushed the envelope with their raunchy content. Toukan and Mango's argument and strategy was that if their fan base had to endure the censorship and now go out of their way to find their favorite tittles, they should be rewarded with more, hard core content. These two companies took it to the extreme when they were forced to start bagging their comics, this is when they began to include full nude, hard core, sexually explicit content to justify the censorship, further angering the political party.
Those who were avid readers of the explicit comics argued that they were legitly interesting and captivating story lines with a lesson to be learned and "moral of the story" in the end, the sexual themes and nudity were only a plus. Traditional comics all had the same style of dialogue and story line; the villains were always the obvious, ugly, and awkward social outcasts. The women were always saintly, innocent, and in need of saving. The hero was the traditional good looking guy that came in and saved the day, made everything better, and got to keep the girl. If the story line contained a tough and rebellious woman, she would be seduced and enamored by the valiant hero in the end.
Sensacionales were different though, in some cases the villains were the main protagonist and the story focused on their bad doing. The story lines often consisted of low life villains; lying, cheating, stealing and why they did what they did. Most of the Mexican audience fully related with what the villains were going through given their own social and economic disadvantages and the corrupt state of the country and government, a lot of them saw the villains as their own heroes. The rest of the readers. due precisely to those same circumstances still wanted to see the bad guy pay while fantasizing for those same results in real life.
These stories saw some women no longer being the victim, defending and fighting for what was rightfully theirs (while having a lot of explicit sex in the process). The rapists and wife beaters all got what they deserved. Women readers said they felt empowered, both sexually and socially all while relating to the female heroes. Other tittles focused solely on the women's suffering while completely ignoring the bad guy and his punishment, some women readers better related to these because it perfectly described their daily lives and experiences. Everyone had their reasons for being a fan that not always included the nudity. People were addicted to these comics often due to their ironic, unexpected, satisfying endings and simply because they were forbidden. It was their way of giving society a big middle finger. The comic writers often defended themselves by stating the their product wasn't porn; porn is all sex, moaning, and nudity, they however had an actual story with a beginning, middle, and end; with a problem and a problem solved. Explicit content aside, they argued that their comics were works of art that fully described what Mexicans went through on a day to day basis and not the unrealistic telenovela that elitists wanted to portray.
In the end however it seems like the internet and government won. Easily accessible porn slowly killed the industry as well as the endless government censorship that made it harder and harder to sell and to buy these comics. Also, the editorial company's decision to go full porno turned off their women readers who subsequently stopped purchasing the comics, fully condemning them into extinction. If you go to a Mexican newsstand you'll no longer see any and if you do it might just be a handful of tittles. They're highly collectible though since everyday they become harder to find.