Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Time and Again

It's a fact of life that illustrators busy with looming deadlines sometimes resort to "borrowing" from the work of their peers, be it general inspiration, a certain detail, a pose or the whole piece.  Bolles himself was routinely swiped by other artists of his time and still is today, but I have yet to find a solid example where he swiped from another artist.  Granted, he often worked from photos and in some cases changed nary a thing, but he must have had some personal code about lifting ideas from artists, or at least other artists. 
Take a closer look above at this original from 1925--the only surviving painting I'm aware of among the 23 covers he completed for Judge magazine--and you immediately notice that time-telling detail.  And then we fast forward to 1937 and we see another Bolles girl checking if she's late for an appointment.  Bolles would revisit a number of themes  throughout his career. There was a time when I pondered just how he could possibly keep track of it all, considering he painted at least 663 magazine covers (and counting). He certainly could have benefitted from some system to keep from overgrazing the same territory, if nothing else.  But it doesn't appear he kept a ledger of his work and he certainly didn't keep many of his paintings around in his studio, although these two are still around.  My own theory is that it was all in his head. Bolles had an amazing memory, which included a rather freakish ability to recall (or perhaps calculate) the last time a date and day coincided in the calendar (and if you're curious, the last time December 3 fell on a Tuesday was just last year, but prior to that you'd have to go back to 2002).
But I digress. The fun thing about these examples is that you get to see Bolles' reinterpreting an idea in the context of the era and through his evolving style.  And if you want a closer look the Judge painting is going up for sale this weekend at Freeman's auction house.  And with that I'll bid her adieu.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nancy Caroll, born 11/19/1903 by Bolles

Proudly on display we have one of the very few portrait covers done by Bolles, completed in 1931.  The signature is much larger than any done for Film Fun but the art director (or type setter) apparently felt no compunction about laying a line of type right over it, and indignity Enoch suffered several times during his career. 

If you've seen examples of the so-called 'specially posed' Film Fun covers Bolles completed for Film Fun in the late 20's, you might not think he could do a decent likeness (the cover of Lupe Velez was the glaring exception in this series, and you can read more about that cover here), but he nails this one.  I only wish there were more, and my guess is they took Enoch a lot longer, and so he focused on his pinup covers.  Speaking of pinup, stay tuned because I'll be soon be posting an interview with Dian Hanson, author of the amazing, The Art of Pinup. She's devoted an entire chapter to Bolles. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Seeing Double

From time to time I post examples of art done in the manner of our man Bolles.  In some cases they are clearly homages while others fall under the category of swipes. And unfortunately many amount to no more than line-for-line copies. Here we see a really nice poster inspired by a 1933 Film Fun cover. Curiously the girl in the poster is making the sort of complex hand poses that we associate with Bolles, whereas his cover girl's doing a simple high-five.
Below we see a charming example of one of Bolles' animal as transportation series, in this case a ray done up with some art deco detailing. By comparison, poor Bebe is riding if not abusing, what appears to be a ghastly mashup of a catfish and umbrella.  It's only too easy to imagine the ghastly bleat the poor beast is emitting.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 25: Lumberjack Day!

What a great cover from 1928, which if my records are correct was reprinted again in 1929. She's loaded with charm and what a festive ensemble Bolles has outfitted her in. And that axe may be small but it is all business. Take a look at that curve on the handle!  She may not have used that axe to hew her chair, but it could still do some serious damage in the right hands.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 14: Shark Awareness Day

Our man Bolles has never failed to provide art for even the most obscure of public service announcements.  In this 1929 cover, we see a lovely bathing beauty staying cool, despite Mr. Mako's menacing maw. It's a far cry from John Singleton Copley's archetypal shark attack painting where the bather fares far less well (according to the story he survived but lost a leg).  Bolles was well versed in historical art and I wonder if he may have been having a little fun at the Copley's expense. It wouldn't be the first time he alluded to a classic painting in his work.  A decade later he revisits the theme with another utterly fearless girl hanging ten on Jaws inflatable cousin.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Study in Red

What a treat!  This is the original painting to the July 1940 cover of Film Fun and it was only recently that I learned she was still around. Bolles may well have painted her in Greystone Hospital, where he sometimes enlisted nurses to serve as models. It not only is a fantastically preserved example of his late work but an unusual one on several accounts.  The night scene is unique among all Film Fun covers and there are many details evident, including the stars, that were lost in the magazine printing.  Bolles said an engraver once strongly encouraged him about using the color red and this advice was taken further here than just about any other cover Bolles did, and to good effect too. He had some great swim suit designs in his 1940s covers but this suit tops them all.  How about that red vest-cummerbund detail.  And take a gander at those Victory curls!  His treatment of hair could be rather loose at times but there is an amazing, almost mathematical precision to her hairdo. Finally, if you just can't resist that smile, she could be yours. The original painting is up for sale at Grapefruit Moon Gallery.  She'll be making an appearance at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Con this week (Mala Mastroberte, the Bolles girl in the flesh will be there too). Is your piggy bank big enough?