Motorcycles in comic booksKeyin Web
From the 70’s on, a large number of creators yield to the desire of including motorcycles into their comic books and manga books. As a result, we now have a treasure filled with paper art fueled by violence, vengeance, speed, and passion. Let’s discover together the most famous per country.
United States of America
Marvel and DC represent the very best of American motorcycle comic books. Both of them let enthusiasm for motorcycles influence their stories and, as a result, we can read incredible adventures of motorcycle riding characters.
DC has always provided Batman with a load of hight-tech gadgets and incredible vehicles, among them there also is a motorcycle. Also, Bruce Wayne’s enthusiasm for motorcycles is not a secret (he own a quite good collection). If the Dark Knight loves motorcycles, his female counterpart has it as a vehicle of choice. Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, uses a motorcycle fight crime in Gotham City.
Marvel, beside the motorcycles used by Captain America and, most recently, by Hit-Girl, decide to walk the extra mile and create a character of which story is dominated by motorcycles: Ghost Rider. This character includes the American circus culture, with motorcycle stunts that include jumping into rings of fire and “the globe of death”; it also includes a rock subculture that is super appealing to bikers.
Japan is the country of the largest motorcycle brands in the world. Between the 70s and the 80s the country was crossed by a movement that over time assumed the proportions of a social emergency: the Bōsōzoku gangs, term that literally means “high-speed gangs”.
At the time, Japanese society was really focused on strict observance of the rules of coexistence. Members of Bōsōzoku gangs were not incline to living this kind of life, they definitely preferred to conduct an anarchist life style: riding their motorcycles all day, and living off micro-criminal activities.
The impact that this rebellious movement had on Japanese culture was incredible. In fact Akira is focused on motorcycle gangs that fight each other to have total control of the streets. The main characters have psychokinetics powers that allows them to be perceived as emblems of a disrupted and corrupted society. Kaneda’s red motorcycle has an incredible iconographic power thanks to its shape that allows the rider and the motorcycle to look as one; this image underlines the concept that motorcycles become the extension of the rider’s body.
In Durarama, due to the darkness and damnation of it all, the character building is similar to what happens in Ghost Rider. The story is peculiar: in a cyberpunk Tokyo ruled by violent gangs, a headless motorcycle rider dominates the scene while looking for her head.
In Bari Bari Densetzu the focus is on clandestine motorcycle racing which takes place on bendy mountain roads. The pilots are a subcategory of the Bōsōzoku we talked about before, and are called “rolling-zoku”. The story the evolves and shifts on legal racing that takes place in the Japanese national racing leagues.
Mars is the moste different of them all. No illegal racing or gangs are involved. One of the two main characters is a motorcyclist that owns many bikes and would like to race for a living. Him and the co-protagonist try to leave traumas in the past and have a better future.
In France, the enthusiasm for motorcycles is at the center of the project. In 1989 Christian Debarre (Bar2), on the Moto Journal, gives birth to a series of comics that talks about the adventures of a group of bikers of the 70s that have a rendezvous Joe’s Bar.
Debarre perfectly describes the bikers of that era with their faiths, foibles and their granitic convictions. The stories were so hilarious that, in a brief time, the adventures of Edouard Bracame – for his friends “Ed the Wrist”- and his mates became extremely successful all over the world.
Lately, in Italy, something is moving. Last years the Italian cartoonist Tommaso De Stefanis create a line of comics in collaboration with Mv Agusta. The protagonists are the Turismo Veloce, the Brutale, the Rush, the Dragster and the F3. Each one of these models on the side of the ideal owner archetype. The whole concept is based on short stories inspired by the best noir comics stories and by the protagonists of the motor comics of the 70s.
Our trip into the world of motorcycles and comics ends here. As anticipated, we only mentioned the most famous. Do you think we missed something? Let us know in the comments.