Here's the most interesting, sensational and salacious artwork involving bikes and bikers and forms them into a slightly risqué book.
Back before there was the Internet, if you wanted sensational fake news and scantily clad women, you had to pick up a "men's magazine" at your local newsstand. The Men's Adventure Library selection Barbarians on Bikes collects the most interesting, sensational and salacious artwork involving bikes and bikers and forms them into a slightly risque book.
If you are a fan of the biker movies I have been reviewing, you may want to pick up this book. It is light on the reading, but full of pictures that you are sure to enjoy. The artists are not anyone you are likely to have heard of, but their talent is as good as David Mann, the Rembrandt of biker painting. You will notice some odd choices of bikes in the compositions though, which betrays the fact that these illustrators probably didn't ride. I'm pretty sure cycle Nazis didn't ride Yamaha 2 stroke enduros, like in the above picture.
There are plenty of Nazis in the book, too, and they are on both sides. There are the Hell's Angels types displaying the symbols of National Socialism, as well as stories about bikers fighting actual Nazis in WWII. You'll also see the bikers fight the Cubans, the red communist menace, the Japanese, and everyone else America hated in the years immediately following the second World War. Then, of course, you have the bikers as the menace, pillaging and destroying the American way and everything it stands for.
Since these were magazines aimed at men, you also get plenty of art depicting girl gangs. The exploits of these gangs, and their actual existence was probably based on as much truth as the fake news headlines on Facebook. The covers of these men's mags were the original click bait!
The excerpts of some of the stories are reprinted alongside the pictures, if you are interested in reading them. It is a shame the publishers of the book did not have all the reprint rights to the entire articles as well, but that would have been a huge legal hurdle and expense. New Texture, the small independent publisher, has released several other volumes in this series that do reprint the collected stories by a particular pulp author, or stories focused on one subject. If after looking at these pictures you have the burning desire to read the stories that thrilled your father and grandad, you can shop for their other books on their website or Amazon.
At more than 8.5 inches x 11 inches and over 125 pages, this is a nicely sized book. The magazine covers are reprinted at nearly their original size inside, and always in full color, unless they were originally black and white. There is a hard bound edition, perfect for the coffee table of your man cave or bike club hang out, for $39.95, and a similarly sized softcover version for just $19.95. If you have someone on your Christmas list who likes old bikes this would make a good gift, but be warned, some of the pictures are not quite safe for work.
I totally enjoyed flipping through these old sensationalist pages, and I may just have to pick up one of their other compilations of pulp magazine stories. This book wraps up with a short story by author and retired former LAPD detective Paul Bishop. During his time on the force had to go toe to toe with the real bikers in their heyday, back in the 1970s, so he probably knows more than the original authors of these magazines. For a trip back to the days before Sons of Anarchy defined the biker gang, take a spin through Barbarians on Bikes.