Friday, October 31, 2008

Do You Recognize Me?

Is there a better Bolles composition than this? None other than Francis Smilby called it "one of the most beautiful of all pinup covers" and who could rightly argue with him. Look at all the detail Bolles put into her dress, yet none of it is strained or overworked. And the subtle transparency of the material; what trouble Bolles took to let the deco motif show through on the left side. He even threw in one of his amorphic shadows for good measure to counterbalance the curvature of the motif (these shadows were a regular feature of his work and I'll be doing a separate post on them one of these days).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Like My Costume?

A super cover from this misleadingly titled pulp, at least by current interpretation. But in the 1930s Gay Parisienne implied something entirely different. It was near the top of the pile of the so-called "Smoosh" mags targeted by NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Bolles never signed a single cover and no wonder, LaGuardia jailed several staffers associated with the publisher and when he couldn't get his hands on them, threw the newsstand dealers in the slammer.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another happy jackolantern. This comes from a 1930 issue of Pep. Bolles only did a handful of covers for Pep but they rank among his best examples, quite risque' for the time too. Sorry the scan is so lousy but this is the best image I've found of this cover.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nice pumpkin!

Just in time for Halloween. Is that a happy pumpkin or what! This cover for a 1945 issue of Breezy originally appeared sometime in the 1930's, but I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know the year. I have images of nearly 500 of Bolles' magazine covers but my records for Breezy Stories are the spottiest of all of the magazines he did work for. And Breezy Stories was one of the highest paying and most widely circulated among the many pulp titles Bolles was associated with. In fact for a time he even signed his covers for Breezy, something he did regularly only for Film Fun and for a few issues of Gay Book. My theory is that Breezy was a read and toss magazine whereas some of the other pulps Bolles did work for such as Tattle Tales, were more apt to bear repeated gazing, if not reading.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Which Came First?

My Bolles pal, the artist Jared Joslin (check out his link on this page) sent me this photo by Paul Outerbridge dated 1937. He thought that Bolles used it as a reference and so did I until I noticed that the Bolles cover was published in 1935. But now I think that Outerbridge borrowed from Bolles. He wouldn't be the first as I've found plenty of other examples, done both by photographers and artists.

Here's another example form 1927 and I'm pretty sure that the Bolles image came first. The caption on the photo was taken right off the magazine cover.

Now the next two go the other direction. These were photos that Bolles used for inspiration. For me what is most interesting is the changes that Bolles made in the covers. I've seen photos used by pinup illustrators such as Elvgren where the fidelity between photo and painting so close that you can superimpose them. On the other hand Bolles used these photos as a starting point but it was rare that his depictions bordered on a copy.

The example below is something different. The photo is of a model posing in Bolles' studio. But again you can see that the photo was just a starting point of what ended up being a very different looking image. I have a number of photos of models that Bolles used and what is interesting is that you would never recognize any of them from the paintings.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An artist of many talents

When I first began looking into the career of Enoch Bolles the official party line about him went something like this: An artist who specialized in scandalous and somewhat cartoony pinups. This and other similar descriptions of Bolles effectively stamped him as a semi-talented cartoonist who specialized in pretty girls and nothing else. But the reality of this was an entirely different matter. The unknown truth was that at the same time Bolles was turning out his charming covers for Film Fun and other magazines at the rate of three to five a month he had a parallel career as a talented illustrator in high demand who worked for the top advertising agencies including J. Walter Thompson and Barron Collier's Consolidated Streetcar Railway Advertising Company, that was responsible for publishing many of Bolles Trolley cards. The products he illustrated for these and other clients spanned the gamut from bread to swimsuits to Zippo lighters. He did advertising work for major products and companies including Sun-Maid Raisins, Fleischman's yeast, Palm Beach suits, Best Foods and Fox Films (I've only recently discovered his work for the talkies). Unfortunately most of this work was done anonymously, despite the fact that many top artists not only signed their advertising art but additionally, loaned their names to add to the status of the product. Think Leyendecker-Arrow Shirts, Maxfield Parrish-General Electric, Rockwell Kent-Bituminous Coal Institute.

Bolles was not a party among this stellar group
but even lesser names were featured in ad campaigns. Bolles was never one to foist his name but in all likelihood he had already become to some extent tainted by his own particular specialization, namely illustrating very pretty girls who were a lot sexier than those of his peers and competitors. In that sense he
had become a victim of his own talents. But if you look at the two examples I posted you'll see an artist of far greater range and emotional subtlety (also: the lettering in these ads was done freehand by him).

A copy of Snappy Magazine from 1924.
The magazine had been banned in several
cities and the entire state of Kansas.
Bolles initialed but never his entire name to
nearly everycover of Snappy he painted.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ride em cowgirl

One of my favorites in the cowgirl theme. Bolles lavished attention on shoes and in this cover the boots (aren't they great) serve as the focal point of the composition. Bolles painted at least a half dozen other cowgirl covers and I'll feature them all together in a future post, along with some of his other pinup themes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Handle With Care

Oh the abuse pulp magazines took to survive 70 or 80 years. First they were thumbed to death, especially the spicy pulps that bore repeated 'reading'. Then if they weren't tossed out in the trash they were left to molder for decades in the attic. Here's a fabulous Bolles cover in anything but fabulous shape. I'm pretty good with Photoshop but reanimating this was beyond my abilities. Not so with my pal, TJ. Take a look below at what he was able to do with this cover. Simply amazing! Honestly she never looked this good in real life. TJ has a site where you can download lots of other pinup and glamour art, and he'll be soon adding a Bolles section. The site is intended for grownups so be forewarned.

Here's the link:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Penultimate Bolles?

Certainly one of the most kinetic pinups ever rendered, she ranks as the second most famous among the over 500 Bolles' girls, tailing just behind the Windy girl (you'll hear about her in a future post). Sadly, they both have been credited to other artists, as have many other Bolles works.

Originally Bolles paintings are quite rare, but I do know that four other Film Fun covers from 1934 still survive, the year this police girl roared onto the newsstands. Many cover paintings from this era were tossed out in the trash but you have to believe that someone took a shine to the original police woman. I know that another 1934 Film Fun cover was given to a city mayor simply because he asked for it (yet another post). Might this painting have been spared? One can only hope.

I should add, this issue was given to me by the esteemed Playboy artist and author, Francis "Smilby" Smith, whose "Stolen Sweets" remains the best of the books on the pinup. I had the honor of being a guest of Francis and his lovely and equally artistic wife, Pam a few years ago at their 16th century cottage in England, which was an eclectic museum filled with art, antiques and thousands of rare 78 jazz records. The time I spent with this gracious couple was the highlight of my entire trip to England.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Judge Magazine, 1924

Perhaps Bolles' best cover for Judge, the magazine where he got his start in 1914. For a while the publishers of Judge also owned Film Fun, which truly launched Bolles into the public eye, but they sold it to stave off bankruptcy (which eventually happened, anyway). George Delacorte Jr. bought Film Fun, hired Norman Anthony to rework it in a more humorous vein and it was Anthony who probably hired Bolles to become the magazine's exclusive cover artist for the next 20 years. Film Fun, by the way, did well for Delacorte, earning an average 100 grand in profit annually.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Journey Begins

Enoch Bolles, 1915
A year after he
published his first
cover for Judge.

After I caught the Bolles bug I begain prowling the Internet and other databases to dig up more about him. I could locate nothing of fact, and this was a time when his peers commanded the public's attention far beyond that of all but the greatest film stars. What little I could find was rife with was sensationalism and rumor. Did he horrifically deface his paintings and die in alone in a sanitarium? Or had a stroke stripped Bolles of his artistic powers at the very moment that pinup art had become a genre unto itself.
I spent the next year year digging in old newspapers, government databases and genealogical records until I finally struck pay dirt. A phone call later and I was on the line with his 88 year old daughter, Theresa. And so began a new a new chapter in my journey to uncover the truth about his life and work.

Film Fun cover, March 1937

Welcome to the new home of my Enoch Bolles appreciation web-site. As some of you know, my last site disappeared down an internet sinkhole with over 200 rare and previously unseen images of Bolles, his art and rare originals. In coming posts I'll be putting up some of these images along with some new material I've never posted.

So why not start this blog with one of my favorite Bolles Film Fun covers. For many Bolles fans 1937 was the penultimate year for the Bolles high-style, but as you'll see from future posts, this was simply one phase in a career that saw his work constantly evolving over three decades that bridged from the end of the Edwardian era to the beginnings of the classic WW-II pinup.

In a later post I'll upload the original painting of this cover and you'll be able to see exactly what was lost by the engravers. In some cases they left off his signature and with other paintings they blurred or reworked details in order to appease the censors and avoid the wrath of the morals groups that prowled the magazine stands in the 1930s.