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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]

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]

Early lifeEdit

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 careerEdit

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

DeathEdit

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 alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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 readingEdit

  • 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 linksEdit