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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30: International Dance Day

Snappy Stories seems well suited for today's celebration.  The author of the cover feature, who's real name was Alvina Croter (her husband changed his last name to Delmar!), cut her teeth in the pages of Snappy Stories. A couple years later she made it big and sold her novel, Bad Girl, to Fox Pictures (which later would become 20th Century Fox) and our man Bolles was there again to bring the star to life in a fantastic image.I've read they even used the image in Billboards!

Snappy Stories focused on romantic themes and so it isn't a surprise that Bolles painted a number of other dancing themed covers for the magazine. What's curious to me is that very few featured couples.  But then again, whenever Bolles included men in his covers they were always secondary, often subservient and sometimes just superfluous to the woman. After all, she's not just any pinup, she's a Bolles girl!


And finally, I need to include the hoofer stepping out to the Charleston on the cover of Gay Book. The dance may have been a bit dated in 1934 when this appeared on the newsstands, but she's managed to make it all the rage once again.

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?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nothing Like a Dame Day: April 17

A day made for a Bolles girl, but which one?  That's a question I spent far more time pondering than I care to admit. There were only several dozen or so contenders to choose from, but I'm happy with our Harlow inspired winner.  Who would you have chosen?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bolles Fan-tastic!

Even the most casual web-search for Enoch Bolles will reveal a slew of products slathered with his copies of his magazine cover images, some tastefully done, others not so.  While it is gratifying to see how popular Bolles work remains, the majority of these products give Bolles no credit at all. Worse, much of it is simply ripped from existing scans (some from this site), many of which are not particularly detailed.  So when I came across Dan Gantner’s work I was blown away.  They are not simply high dpi scans taken from well preserved or careful photoshopped magazine covers, the images you see are reworked directly from high resolution scans of the original paintings. And the Film Fun logo isn't scanned from a cover that's pasted in, it's totally revectored. I was able to talk to Dan and learn more about his work and passion for Enoch Bolles. 

This is the obvious question but what you do requires incredible amounts of time,effort and attention to detail. What ultimately motivates you?
I do it because I love to work with the images--from the retouching to the printing, framing and shipping handsomely. What more could you ask for than to work with great images all day?

There are so many artists and pinup illustrators you could have chosen. What is it about Bolles that you like in particular?
He obviously took so much joy and care in his work and his technique is just sublime. His girls instantly transport you to another place and time in a way that only the best illustrators can achieve. I feel the same way about many of the other illustrators I have worked with in my shop, like the fantasy work of Virgil Finlay and Frank R Paul, Peter Driben's work for Wink and Titter, Paul Rader's outrageous sexploitation work for Midwood and Beacon in the 50s and 60s.

What you do goes so far beyond the typical scan, clean-up, cut and paste that you see with products that have used Bolles imagery or the works of other illustrators.   Could you take us through your process?
The original Film Fun magazine covers were printed on an offset press using halftone dots, a set of four color screens that create the appearance of continuous tone. When you scan the old covers in order to reprint them, you generate moiree patterns, pixelated or off-register colors that leak through the subsequent printing. I decided to work with the existing photos of the original Bolles artwork. Basically, it's the difference between working with the first and second generation reproduction of the original art. Since my experiments with enlarging a scanned Film Fun logo to the size I wanted often resulted in tattered curves and jangly lines, I imported a scan of the logo into an illustration program and outlined the letters using vector paths, which scale and reproduce with razor sharp crispness. The Film Fun covers were blessedly straightforward due to the white background and minimalist type treatment (thanks, Enoch!). I did this process on several of Drieben's Wink and Whisper covers, essentially recreating the entire cover from scratch. The famous Whisper keyhole cover of Nov. 1949 was a total rebuild, recreating the keyhole and banner logo, and typesetting the copy anew with the original fonts. The result, printed on archival photo paper and an Espon piezo printer using 9 archival inks, is an incredibly crisp, faithful reproduction quite possibly more brilliant than any of the original issues.

Thanks for this tour of your work, Dan. 

And for those of you who are interested in seeing more, here's the link to Dan's Etsy site.  Check it out!