Monday, December 7, 2009

Is this what she ended up wearing to the beach?

After my last post I had been lamenting the fate of our beach beauty so cruelly left off the front page, when another possibility flashed in my head. So I present this smashing cover that appeared on the newsstands in 1941 in the dysfunctionally titled Young's Snappy Realistic Stories. As best as I can tell, Young's was sort of a mash-up with the remains of what was once merely Young's Magazine along with dollops of Breezy Stories, Snappy Stories and perhaps Yellow Book, all of which were the legacy of the publisher Courtland Young, who got his start back around 1912 with the long lived Snappy Stories. Snappy is regarded as the first of the so-called sex pulps and more important for us, is where Bolles had some of his best work published. In the mid-1930s these titles were acquired by Phil Painter publications who managed to keep Breezy Stories on the newsstands until nearly 1950, in part by recycling many of Bolles early Breezy covers. Unfortunately, Bolles had no residual rights to his artwork and so didn't see a plug nickel out of this. Worse yet, take a look at the lousy hand lettered text penned in directly over Bolles signature. This was clearly no accident, Painter publications was not only too cheap to shell out for new cover art, they also weren't even willing to pay to have an engraver to tool out Bolles' signature or block it out with some type. Fortunately for us, Bolles still gets credit for what was a really smashing cover that imaginatively combines several of his signature elements. There's the unique employment of the bull's (Bolles'?)-eye as a compositional element and as a frame for the background. Notice how it intersects her hat precisely at its at its apsides or extremes--not by accident--and that the arc of the circle also intersects the shadow cast over her face). There's also the bimorphic shadow, a really cute animal feature with terrier and the the red blanket, which acts both as a sort of shadow but also works to thrust the composition toward the viewer. Basically the entire repertoire of Bolles tricks.

The only problem with this story is the image to our right, clearly the same girl as the Young's cover, albeit cropped and in a different suit. This issue of Breezy is from 1938 and I'd bet the cover was likely reused from yet an even earlier issue, perhaps as early as 1935 during the short time when Bolles was signing his covers for Breezy. So it's more likely the concept painting in the previous post was inspired by this cover rather than the other way round. But what about the costume change in the two versions I show here? It just makes the sorting this out more complicated, compounded by the unfortunate fact that I lack a complete run of covers to Breezy or Young's. So there remains work to be done and art to be discovered!


Alan Wrobel said...

Oooh, nice ones! Thanks Jack. I've got a few nice Breezies. I'll get them scanned and send them to you.

Jack R said...

Hi Alan,
Here are my gaps for Breezy's.
1935: 1,5,9,11
1936: 5
1937: 4, 6-8,11
1938: 5-7, 9,12
For some reason I have long been lagging on getting my hands on these magazines or scans. Breezy Stories had a large circulation, and paid well but for some reason these magazines rarely show up for auction. My theory: the stories and interior illustrations aren't as hot as other Bolles pulps so they didn't end up hidden in the sock drawer.