Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hula Hoot!


















The image on the left, from a 1942 issue of Film Fun is often mistaken for one of the colorized photo covers the magazine ran during its last three years. But a closer look reveals that it's actually a painting, and by Bolles though it looks nothing at all like any magazine cover he had done before. To me this cover ranks as the most atypical he ever did for any magazine, mainly because it seems like an exercise in photorealism. The only other pinup illustrator who was doing similar work was Earle Bergey who in the late 30's was dabbling with an occasional photoreal cover for Gay Book and a couple of related magazines, but until this example Bolles hadn't even come close. At some point I will post all of his entire run of the final three years of Film Fun because they were unusual in other regards. He was began experimenting with unusual poses and compositions as well as incorporating mathematically exact patterns in some of girl's outfits. It's sad that this didn't continue for very long. In 1942 the Postmaster General listed Film Fun among a group of magazines he had designated as salacious. There was a congressional hearing and the editors of Film Fun sent lawyers to defend the magazine (I am still trying to get a transcript of the testimony, which would be priceless) but they lost their appeal and the Feds yanked their their second class mailing privileges, which in the publishing industry was the equivalent of a coup de grĂ¢ce. It turned out that the Postmaster General was getting his marching orders from his parish Bishop, who had created a decency organization that had been forwarding him lists of magazines they wanted banned. By the time this scheme had been exposed in a Washington Post article, it was too late for Bolles and Film Fun. The magazine had already folded.

5 comments:

Dominic Bugatto said...

Great piece.

Gary Underwood said...

Thanks Jack for pointing that out. I had always raced over this issue , assuming it was another photo cover. I had seen the photo previously, which had reenforced my impression that this was a photo cover.

Jack R said...

That's what happened with me. I saw the thumbnails on eBay and thought it was a photo, until one time around I took a closer look. It wasn't until I had an issue in hand that I figured out it was a Bolles. Then I found the photo in another issue.

oeconomist.com said...

I suggest that one of the places that you look for that transcript is in a law library.

Jack R said...

Yes, you're right. I did talk to a scholar who did research on Vargas's law suit with Esquire and she put me on to some resources, but it's been difficult to make a connection with the right people. I should give it another try.