As part of the "Legends Project", Gene Bilbrew has been recognized as an BDSM Icon
for the work they have done to make the BDSM/GLBT/Leather communities what they are today.
Gene Bilbrew (1923 - 1974) was an African-american fetish artist notably employed at Irving Klaw's Movie Star News/Nutrix company. He also had many illustrations published in "Exotique" magazine between 1956 and 1959. He drew under a range of pseudonyms, including ENEG, Van Rod, J Bondy, Nan Gilbert and other names.
Gene Bilbrew also signed thousands of pieces of art as “Eneg” (Gene spelled backwards). I don’t know when his art was first published. Probably in the 1940’s. The earliest dated artwork I have goes back to 1953 in association with Irving Klaw.
I’ve seen so much of his art for 40+ years, but I do not remember details of where he worked, who he worked with, etc. I’ve also seen art by a “J. Bondo” – only a dozen pieces or so, but the art style is nearly identical to Bilbrew. I’ve often wondered if this was another chop that he used on his art.
Gene Bilbrew made his debut in the Los Angeles Sentinel with the series 'The Bronze Bomber', together with Bill Alexander. After this, he made the series 'Hercules' in Health Magazine. He then became an assistant to Will Eisner on 'The Spirit'.
Gene Bilbrew (1923-1971?) produced a tremendous quantity of work for Irving Klaw and later publishers, such as Leonard Burtman. Bilbrew, an African-American, met Eric Stanton while both were students at The School of Visual Arts in NYC. Here Bilbrew studied under Burne Hogarth, creator of the famous Tarzan comic strip. It was via Stanton that Bilbrew met and came to work for Klaw in 1951.
b. 1923 - d. 1974? Los Angeles-born illustrator also known as Van Rod and Bondy. He began his fetish comic work in the late '40s and early '50s, producing strips for Irving Klaw's Movie Star News, after working for the Will Eisner Comic Book Studio. Eric Stanton -- who he'd met while attending Burne Hogarth's School of Visual Arts -- may have first introduced him to Irving Klaw. He largely set the standard that other fetish comics illustrators followed. As with many of the Movie Star News artists (Jim, Ruiz), the strips from the period he is best known for are few and far between, scattered among the hidden collections of his fans, as few of the originals have survived. He also drew for Fantasia, Exotique and Nutrix, and did forced-feminization art for the latter, although his bondage work is best remembered.
Cover art by Bilbrew