Friday, August 14, 2009

Cover Girls

This 1930 issue of Talking Screen, which was soon retitled Silver Screen, is among one of only four cover portraits that Bolles did in his long career. To my mind it is far and away his best. It is instantly recognizable as a Bolles but still captures the essence of Nancy (she's always seemed a bit of a pixie to me). The gauzy look to the edges and lines make me think she was done in oil pastel, a medium Bolles would only have employed by directive. His cover for the debut issue of Talking Screen was a pastel of Norma Shearer in the Armstrong style, so blatant was it that Armstrong did his own version of of pose just a few months later for a competing movie rag. This Carroll cover is far more successful and I only wish there were more. The one unfortunate element is that the type runs right over Enoch's signature, which is uncharacteristically large.

Now it is true that Bolles did a dozen or so figural illustrations of Hollywood starlets for Film Fun but most were a bit of a disappointment, clearly taken from stock photos--despite the captions claiming they were specially posed for Film Fun--and they come off a bit generic. The lone exception was the over the top painting of Lupe Velez as pirate girl. I would be grateful if someone could explain to me the popularity of the girl-as-pirate, for a while it seemed that every illustrator worth his salt was shoving them off the plank one after another. The Bolles cover certainly captures the vivacious energy of the Mexican Spitfire, perhaps because she may have actually posed for it, or at least that is what Enoch's daughter once told me. The one misfire in this painting is the lame flintlock. I could swear Lupe's brandishing a purse sized can of mace.


Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

I can't explain the phenomenon, per se, of lady pirates, but it seemed like society on a certain cultural level couldn't seem to get enough. Of course Hollywood was probably the epicenter with Fairbanks and all that daring do. But costume parties were overflowing with pirates of all kinds. Broadway vanities and revues had whole chorus lines of swashbuckling cuties. It was a great escape and, yow, with all those cute girls, artists couldn't help themselves. Wasn't there a book that collected all that girl pirate art? This cover of Bolles was one of my favorites and I've been hoping for a larger scan like you posted. Thanks!

Jack R said...

Hi Thomas,
Thanks for the information and cultural context. I think it was Collector's Press that did the pirate book. As far as why the pirate theme was so popular, I guess you could ask the same question now. Finally, I have to admit there is one other Bolles pirate girl, this one an add for underthings that nobody has seen and it is amazing. If the book doesn't come to be I'll post it on the blog. Either way, I hope I won't have bto wait for long.

Alan Wrobel said...

I'll bet the swash-buckling girls were the Amazon-warrior version of the freedom-seeking, thrill-hunting, convention-busting men. Hmmmm....sounds like a pretty good screenplay idea for now!!

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Hey Jack,
Just a heads up that I did a post about the pirate cover. Thanks again for what you do. I hope your book is on track. I'll be among the first to buy it and promote it.

Jack R said...

I love it. That other prirate girl doesn't look like she could put one right between your eyes.