Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who're you looking at?


It's only too bad that I don't have a better scan of this 1937 issue of Spicy Stories, or a real copy for that matter. She truly pushes the envelope--along with some buttons--and is an early example of what has been come to be called a "keyhole" cover. A lot of other pinup artists, among them Peter Dribben, seemed to favor this motif and it's become something of a standard in pinup. I've yet to come across an earlier version of the keyhole cover and is the only example I've seen where the room key is a part of the composition.
...
Which brings me to the theme of this post. Who first came up with this idea? I've written other posts where I display Bolles covers that fall into one pinup setup cliché or another (upskirt etc.) but my question is whether Bolles first dreamed up this idea or did he take it from another artist. The field of etymology deals with the coinage of words and their usages but I am unaware of a visual analog of this, at least for the case of illustration.

Perhaps the time is ripe to propose the creation of a new branch of art criticism, but what to call it? Pinupology?

8 comments:

Artman2112 said...

man what a great cover! if i tried to render such an awkward pose it would be a joke but in the hands of Bolles it's a masterpiece. this is def one of my faves of his so far!
there is a 1933 Kay Francis film called "The Keyhole" which i saw once a long time ago but, if i recall correctly, the opening titles had a neat little keyhole type illo behind the credits OR the opening shot of the film was peering through a keyhole or something along those lines. maybe Bolles was a Kay Francis fan!

Margot Potter said...

This is amazing. I love keyholes, I use them in my jewelry designs. I can't get over the key!

Love your blog.

Cheers,
Madge

darwination said...

I love this cover too, Jack, one of my favorites from Bolles as far as pure sexy goes.

I've got this image but it's not much better:

http://i37.tinypic.com/v4ce4o.jpg

I saw it for sale probably for a year ago in a nice grade and it was out of my league. I've got my eyes peeled, though! I can think of a couple keyhole-themed girlie covers from a few years earlier. Issue 1 of French Night Life Stories (1933-10) (small auction pic):

http://i36.tinypic.com/2d264qb.jpg

and issue 2 which I have in my collection which also featured a keyhole and a much more attractive lass (barmaids rule!):

http://i37.tinypic.com/w22gxf.jpg

I'm guessing there are even earlier examples of the motif in the girlie pulps or humor mags. It might be a little too risque of a theme for mainstream publications...

Beau

Jack R said...

A-man: Thanks for the Kay Francis info. I'll definitely be checking that out.

Margot: I love the key too. It really nails the composition.

Beau: I should have known you'd have other examples of this. I wonder how many there are out there. I think I may have to do an entire post on this theme.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Paperbacks with keyhole covers were one of Lance Casebeer's passions. Lance, for those who don't know, was the top pb collector in the US before his untimely death.

Jack R said...

How I'd like to see that collection.

lijluvr356 said...

Would you provide TJ's full name, or another way to track him down online? I was terribly impressed with his work, and want to be able to see more, but the web link you once provided doesn't work for me.

Thank you so much! I've been following your posts carefully.

Jack R said...

Here's the link I have to his web site: http://www.irfanview.com/