With a human sacrifice as the central conflict, a high octane tribal fight scene, and lurid bondage damsel in distress subject matter, this Bruce Minney artwork–which appeared as the cover for the June 1970 edition of New Man Magazine–captures all of the subversive allure of the Men’s magazine genre. Loosely illustrating the interior story, “Smash the Latins’ Jungle Combine of Sin And Slavery,” this has all of the compulsory head turning components required to command attention at America’s crowded newsstands. Bruce Minney was recently featured on an episode of the TV series American Pickers, where Mike & Frank bought 6 of the artist’s paintings and gave Minney some well-earned exposure. Sadly, the artist died the very day before the episode featuring his story was aired. Below are a couple of screen shots of the episode that show the pickers considering this cover painting and another illustration by Minney.
In the 1960s and 1970s, men’s magazines expanded on the lurid pulp magazine template of the 1930s, developing a Cold War-era narrative that showed the American male as a Superman, in a time filled with fast moving changes in social norms, and a certain anxiety within the mainstream culture of working class men. “The Sweats” as they were commonly known, provided escape with their fast moving tales of heroes vanquishing exotic enemies like savages, Nazis, and Communist torturers.
Leading illustrators in this strangely subversive genre, such as Norman Saunders, James Bama, Bruce Minney, Rafael DeSoto and Mort Kunstler, created sensational, figurative illustrations executed in a style markedly similar to Socialist Realism and its associated propaganda imagery.