Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

One-Off Part Three

In this installment of single cover assignments Bolles completed we present perhaps the biggest oddball of his entire career. This cover showed its faceless face on the newsstands in 1937, and you have to wonder whether Enoch painted it out or left it blank from the get-go.  Ballyhoo was the creation of Norman Anthony, who back in the 1920's was the editor of Judge magazine during a time when Bolles was still occasionally contributing cover art.  Anthony then jumped ship to Film Fun where he pepped up the laughter content of the interior, and he may also have brought Bolles on board as its full-time cover artist. But Anthony's autobiography, which pretty much name drops everyone he ever had a drink with (a LONG list) curiously left Bolles name off the ledger, despite or perhaps because of Bolles' role in Anthony's success. When Ballyhoo debuted in 1931 it was an immediate sensation and within a couple issues was selling over 2 million copies an issue, more than every other magazine on the newsstand.  By 1937 however, it had gone stale and I suspect Anthony was getting bored.  It folded in 1939 and Anthony went onto other projects, none anywhere near as popular as Ballyhoo. But then again, no humor magazine published after Ballyhoo surpassed its initial popularity and it wasn't until the 1940s that Life magazine broke Ballyhoo's sale record. 

There's one more chapter to this story.  Some time back I bought a painting I knew was by Bolles but was was listed as unattributed, in large part because you couldn't see the girl's face in it. I had always assumed it was an illustration for an ad, but not so long ago I discovered it was actually a second cover painting that Bolles had done for Ballyhoo.  Do any of you Bolles fans out there know which issue it was?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018

One-Off Part Two

Today is the second installment in our series exploring magazines that Enoch contributed only a cover or two.  Its one one I've kept quiet about for years but it has started showing up on several other sites, so I it's no longer my secret.  This 1925 cover for Live Stories is actually a proof, a higher quality test print than the version you'd see on the newsstands. It's also the sole cover Bolles painted for the magazine.  And that's a shame because it ranks among his most dramatic compositions. It also showcases Bolles' particular strengths as an illustrator. 

Take a close look at her dress. Notice how deftly Bolles establishes the folds and pleats, using single, bold strokes of his brush. Get it wrong and you start over from the beginning. He was a master of rendering fabrics; the silky sheen of her gold lamé bodice is a lovely contrast against the gauzy transparency of the sleeves and skirt. And those emerald green accents and gold highlights on that turban-styled clouche tell you she is a classy girl, despite that alarming title.      

So even if you aren't a fan of the Bolles girl (does one exist?) wouldn't you agree she wins the award for the best dressed pinup? (as for the underdressed category...well that's a different contest). Why, even the beau of our swooning Bolles girl's is smartly suited. He's got that all the weighty authority of the Arrow Collar Man without being such a stuffed shirt.  My only lament is why oh why didn't the editor bring back Bolles for an encore?

Monday, January 15, 2018

One-Off Number One

Today we debut the first of an occasional series I'll be calling one-offs.  These are cases in which Bolles illustrated just a single cover for a periodical. While Bolles is most closely associated with the magazine Film Fun, you might be surprised to learn that he painted covers for nearly 30 other magazines.  For one reason or another, he often only painted just one or perhaps two covers before another artist took over, or in what appears to be the case here, the magazine folded. 

This charming example Bolles' art is showcased on a 1926 publication of of America's Humor.  I'm aware of only one other issue of this magazine (alas, the cover was by a different artist) which apparently was also published in 1926.  This was a busy time for Bolles, not only was he venturing from Film Fun to do covers for other magazines, he also was very busy painting Street Car card advertising art.  

The history of this magazine is a bit vague, but from what can be gathered from the amazing Galactic Central magazine resource site, America's Humor previous incarnation was Ziff's Magazine, a monthly humor periodical that had been published since 1923. Sadly, even with Bolles' artistry the retitled magazine didn't last, perhaps because the customers who purchased it because of the cover were less charmed by the contents. This wouldn't be the last time Bolles made the writers look bad. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year by Enoch Bolles

Could this be not only the classiest girl in a coupe glass, but also the first?  By now even the most casual of followers of this blog knows I am not one to be shy about pointing out original examples by Bolles that have since become standards in the world of pinup art.  And the girl in the glass is one of the best.  None other than Dita von Teese has turned it into her most famous stage acts (although she uses a Martini glass).  If I can find an earlier example by another artist you'll be the first to know, but for now let's offer a toast to the new year in memory of our man Bolles.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 21 really is National Flashlight day!

For your perusing pleasure, we present this rare Bolles from 1932 that goes perfectly with today's celebration.  The cover was his final contribution to Pep Stories, a magazine so notorious it got yanked off the stands and tossed from one publisher to another like a hot potato.  The new owner cut the pay rate for covers and so Bolles parted ways with the magazine in late 1931.  But then months later this flashy cover shows up on the stands, and Pep Stories was once again in hot water.  My guess is that it was an older submission which had been rejected for being too risque' even for Pep, which early in its run slapped photos of semi-naked ladies on its covers.

The originals I've seen from this time period are far livelier than what ended up on the cheaply printed covers. Take a look at this original from a 1930 Pep Stories and you'll see what I mean. 

So I took the liberty of doing some digital powerwashing to the the image and the result, in my view, is truer to the actual appearance of the painting than the drab version that appeared in print. Sadly, not only did the publishers of magazine like Pep Stories stint on paying for cover art, they also stinting on printing as well.  Let's hope the actual painting comes out from the dark some day so we can make a side by side comparison.