Gene Bilbrew

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Gene Bilbrew
BornEugene Bilbrew
(1923-06-29)June 29, 1923
Los Angeles
DiedMay 1974 (aged 50)
New York City
NationalityUnited States
Area(s)Cartoonist, Artist
Pseudonym(s)ENEG, Van Rod, Bondy
Notable works
Island of Captive Girls, Prison for Women, [1] The Whip Artist,[2] High Heels in the Heavens, Madam Adista, Dangerous Years [3] Satin Satellite,[4] Exotique magazine [5]

Eugene "Gene" Bilbrew (June 29, 1923 – May 1974) [6] was an African-American vocal group singer, cartoonist, and "bizarre art" pioneer. As noted in the biography, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, he was "the first black career fetish artist in history." [7] Starting in the mid-1950s, he was among the most prolific illustrators of fetish-oriented pulp book covers.[8] In addition to signing his work under his own name, he produced art under a range of pseudonyms, including ENEG ("Gene" spelled backwards), Van Rod, and Bondy.[9]

Early life[edit]

Born in Los Angeles in 1923, Bilbrew's first career was as a vocal group singer, performing with The Mellow Tones and the Basin Street Boys.[10][11]

Art career[edit]

Starting in 1950, Bilbrew switched from singing to illustrative art. Rumors that he illustrated or produced the storyline for a comic strip series named The Bronze Bomber have been debunked, nor is there any evidence that he contributed to the African-American newspaper, Los Angeles Sentinel.[12] His first professional art job was for the hugely influential comics artist Will Eisner, on The Spirit,[13] where Bilbrew took over the back-up series Clifford—a little-kid humour page—after its originator Jules Feiffer was drafted into the army. Bilbrew's Clifford was syndicated as a weekly comic strip by General Features from 1951 to 1952.[14]

The start of Bilbrew's "bizarre art" career came in 1951 through underground artist and pioneer Eric Stanton, whom Bilbrew met while attending Cartoonists and Illustrators School.[15][16] From then on, Bilbrew focused on fetish art, producing work for notable underground publishers Irving Klaw, Edward Mishkin, Stanley Malkin, and the Sturman brothers.[17] He also notably produced many illustrations and covers for Leonard Burtman, publisher of Exotique, a fetish magazine published between 1955 and 1959.[18]

A forced feminization drawing from Women Bind and Dominate Male Maid by Bilbrew

Death[edit]

While his career waned with the coming of relaxed censorship laws of the 1960s, his substance abuse worsened in the early 1970s.[11] According to Eric Stanton, Gene Bilbrew died in the back of a Times Square adult bookstore in May, 1974.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pérez Seves, Richard (2019). GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer. New York: Fethistory. p. 205. ISBN 1072487543.
  2. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, p. 88.
  3. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, p. 90.
  4. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, p. 103.
  5. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, pp. 120-122.
  6. ^ Social Security Death Index, SS# 565-24-5141.
  7. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, p. 4.
  8. ^ Daley, Brittany A., Hedi El Kholti, Earl Kemp, Miriam Linna, and Adam Parafrey (eds). Sin-A-Rama; Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties. Los Angeles, CA: Feral House, 2005. Print.
  9. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, p. 80.
  10. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, pp. 13-26.
  11. ^ a b c Hyperallergic Daily magazine article, "A Long-Lost Artist of the 1950s Sexual Underground" by Jim Linderman, 5 January 2015 at hyperallergic.com Jan 6, 2015
  12. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, p. 7.
  13. ^ Bilbrew bio at WristRope.com.
  14. ^ Bilbrew entry, Who's Who of American Comic Books: 1928–1999. Accessed Oct, 25, 2018.
  15. ^ Pérez Seves, Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground, pp. 37, 38.
  16. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, pp. 31,32.
  17. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, pp. 208-213.
  18. ^ Pérez Seves, GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer, pp. 120-124.

Further reading[edit]

  • GENE BILBREW REVEALED: The Unsung Legacy of a Fetish Art Pioneer by Richard Pérez Seves. New York, Fethistory, 2019. ISBN 978-1072487548
  • Eric Stanton & the History of the Bizarre Underground by Richard Pérez Seves. Atglen, Schiffer Publishing, 2018. ISBN 978-0764355424

External links[edit]