Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
This is one of three issues of Breezy Stories from 1936 that the original painting is known to survive. Unfortunately my versions of both the magazine and painting leave something to be desired, and that's too bad because this cover has so much going for it. For unknowns reasons there are even more original Breezy Stories paintings from 1937 still around, and I'll get around to putting them all up on a post before long.
On the topic of original Bolles paintings, just this week I got my hands on a copy of an art catalog from 1936 which has photos of nearly 20 Bolles originals. Over half are paintings I figured didn't survive the trip to the publisher's trash bin, and it gives me hope that at least a few are still be around somewhere, waiting to be rediscovered (expect an entire post on the catalog images sometime soon). If I had a clue where I bet we could rally together a few volunteers for some door to door "canvasing".
Friday, October 22, 2010
In the previous post I spent some time describing how the Bolles girl was anything but a one dimensional poster girl peddling glee. As approachable as many were, there were others who wanted nothing at all to do with the guy who had just shelled out his hard earned money for the magazine. Compared with any other pinup illustrator-then or now-Bolles was far more apt to depict his girls in emotions ranging from boredom to annoyance to outright contempt. Clearly, this version of the Bolles girl was not only well aware of her effect on readers but could care less. As you can see from the examples above which span from 1923 to 1941, the not so nice Bolles girl made regular appearances throughout his entire career.
To the right is the entire image for the 1923 Film Fun cover and as you'll notice, there's a lot more going on in the composition that we typically see from Bolles.Yet within a year these sorts of narrative elements would fade from the covers to leave the Bolles girl front and center, free of any visual competition. In some ways this was too bad, because as this examples shows, Bolles had no trouble handling more involved compositions.
But aside from all this, take a closer look at our jaded film star and consider just how racy her image must have appeared the day she hit the newsstands. Notice-as if you haven't already-that revealing swim suit, the rolled hose, those splayed ankles. Naughty girl! Nobody today would take offense at any of this, but back in Bolles' times these were just the sorts of provocations that resulted in Film Fun getting banned by entire countries. Just one more thing; could this be the earliest depiction of a stunt double?
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I had in mind an entirely different theme for today's post but it went up in smoke after coming a recent entry on the actress, Armida Vendrell featured in the fabulous and fabulously informative Starlet Showcase. The name rang a loud bell in my head. I recognized her as one of the cinema starlets occasionally featured on the cover of Film Fun, debuting in 1929 with the It Girl, Clara Bow and ending in 1932 with the utterly obscure, Margaret Poggi. The Poggi cover---which will be featured in an upcoming post--is a real poser; it was both a superb effort by Bolles yet a total departure from his typical style. But that story must wait, so back to Armida.
Aside from the cover painting there was not a lick about her inside the magazine, which was odd. As light on information as Film Fun was, the editors typically tucked in a short half-page feature on the cover girl, usually nothing more than a couple extra stock photos and a fake interview. So it was a real delight to get to read about Armida in the Starlet Showcase entry and better yet, see some great pics of her. Admittedly, Bolles likeness is a bit weak, and the same could be said for most of the other "specially posed by..." covers (See. I did it! I actually wrote something negative about our man Enoch). Compare for yourself with this terrific photo of Armida I expropriated from Starlet Showcase. It's a curiosity in itself because I'm nearly certain it was swiped for a pinup (Gene Pressler? Bradshaw Crandell? Maybe I'm thinking of Bolles, he did something similar in a 1938 Film Fun). Just to be clear, there was never any special posing; not with Armida, or Clara or Loretta or Alice. No famous, near famous or mere Hollywood hopeful sat for Bolles in his modest New York studio. He worked from publicity shots, which the Film Fun mail room received by the crate load. Except...there might be one lone exception. Long ago Enoch's daughter told me she had heard Lupe Velez actually did pose for him, and I am inclined to believe her as the cover Film Fun painting of Lupe is miles beyond any other. But it must be said that Armida's getup is another matter entirely. The designs are fabulous and knowing Bolles very likely historically correct. It's only too bad that in 1930, when this issue was published, Film Fun was skimping on printing and paper quality. This cover deserved better.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
But here's a Bolles cover to Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, a sort of precursor to Time and Life (the 1930's iteration). It was part of the Leslie-Judge publishing company but I had never considered that Bolles would have done any covers for it. There's more, this issue appeared in 1914, and unless I'm missing other examples it is only the third magazine cover illustration magazine cover Bolles had done at that point. The cover was printed in only two or three colors, was intended to be photo-real. It's an incredible departure for Bolles, both in the topic and style in which it was done. I ran across it totally by accident, Bolles name was misspelled in the cover credit as Enoch Bowles. If perhaps you aren't yet convinced it is our Bolles and I can understand that given how different it looks, check out the EB initials in lower left corner. They are composed in exactly the style Bolles so often used in the mid-1920s. So let's hope there are more of these Bolles out of the blue show up, sooner rather than later.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
What is most special about these two covers is the display of Bolles at his best fashion sense. I will admit to some lack of objectivity in asserting that Bolles may have been the first true pinup artist, but I will defend to the end my contention that he far and away had the best fashion sense of any pinup artist, good-girl artist, or whatever label suits your fancy. Bolles knew his stuff and he honed his skills and fashion sensibilities producing illustrations of clothes for both women and men. We'll take a closer look at Bolles' little known career in fashion illustration in an upcoming post.
Friday, May 21, 2010
After the last post on what I thought were all the Bolles Film Fun covers with white costume themes, it was kindly brought to my attention that not only were there more of them, they were girls in uniforms no less. Alas, I'd been sloppy in my research. So I am posting two more sailors from even earlier issues of Film Fun. To make things interesting--and to atone from my previous lapse--I've thrown a a couple of extras. As you can see from the 1927 Film Fun above, Bolles either inspired this postcard or swiped it, my guess is the former. What's surprising to me is how closely the uniform follows the painting and just how risqué it comes off by comparison. It just goes to show that what Bolles could get away with in an illustration would, when translated to the 'real thing,' be a lot less acceptable for consumption by the general public, or at least it seems so to me. And if that weren't enough, here's yet another swipe of the cover, used for a 1928 issue in a German publication called Das Magazin. From time to time in past posts I've shared other examples of copied covers, and I never fail to find it curious when some cover images but not others take on a second life.
As nice as this cover is, it pales in comparison to the original, and you can compare for yourself in this detail from the actual painting.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Bolles earlier examples indicate he wasn't quite ready to take the monochromatic plunge. To your starboard hails yet another Bolles sailor girl, with a blot of ink for Professor Rorschach to ponder. But as you can see Bolles hedged his bets and grounded her in a sky blue field. I've featured this cover before because it's a composition Bolles revisited at least two other times, and no wonder.
To our left is the other Bolles white cover, which appeared on the newsstands in 1928. I've blogged about it before, not because I find it particularly attractive but because the subject of nursing was one a lot of illustrators took up. It first became popular as a theme for war posters and also likely because it was such an revered occupation. Bolles could add some double entendres to the sailor theme (I'll say! But let's not forget that sometimes a cannon is just a cannon) but nursing was off limits, at least back in Bolles' day. My how times have changed.
Again the thing to notice with this cover is that Bolles obviously decided white would not do without some additional embellishment and so he threw in one of his bimorphic shadows. Typically they discretely pool around the girls' shoes but this one dominates the composition, virtually propelling our nurse right off the cover. All this reinforces just how unusual the cannon girl is. Still...did you notice that thin spike of red? If you know Bolles you know there was no way he could have resisted.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
There's no reason to revisit the theme of Bolles black unless we feature one of his most outrageous covers. Netty but Nice is simply over the top on all counts; her wild outfit, Bolles amazing treatment of all the different materials and textures, that fabulous deco chair, those shoes! Netty debuted in 1937, a great year for Film Fun and for collectors because-for reasons unknown-more Bolles paintings from 1937 to 1938 have survived than from any other period of his career. Sorry the scan is so poor but after all the years I've been collecting Bolles, this issue continues to elude me. So to make it up to you I've posted a detail out of the original painting (alas it has eluded me as well). As the side by side comparison with the printed cover-which was pretty well done- makes immediately evident, a lot of interesting detail and subtlety was lost in the reproduction. By the way, you can get a fabulous Giclee print taken from the original painting at Impact Graphic posters. For those of use who can't afford a Bolles original (and who can these days), it's the next best thing.
The Madame X post prompted me to take a closer look at just how many cover girls in black Bolles painted and it turns out that throughout the 1930s about one Film Fun cover a year had a predominately black color scheme. Bolles did almost none for other periodicals and I think there are two reasons for this. First, just about all of his other magazine work was for magazines even spicier than Film Fun, and so the color schemes and poses typically ran at hotter temperatures. And second, the quality of printing was poorer. In some cases, covers were printed in only three colors and the lack of a black print run could add a murky atmospheric quality to the work, which is not necessarily a bad thing for horror or gangster pulps as my friend and mega-collector, the late Pete Manesis once pointed out to me. He felt that some cover artists who knew their work was going to be printed in three colors altered their palette to take advantage of the effect. But gangsters and fiends are one thing, and pretty girls another. Bolles faced a different set of challenges doing work for the smoosh mags.
Turning back to Film Fun, I think this cover from 1934 counts among his very best examples of women in black. The image by the way, was a complete swipe from a publicity photo (I've got it around somewhere and once I find it I'll add it to this post) but as usual Bolles adds his own signature to the painting, the cleverly worked shadow both grounds the pose and lends an almost geometric element to the composition. On the subject of signatures, there was a letter printed in this issue from a reader who inquired why Bolles signed some of his covers but not others. Truth is that he often did not sign his work but I've also seen a number of original Film Fun paintings with signatures that ended up being tooled or cropped out of the cover. Why that was done is the question I would have asked the editor.
Finally, a very recent "discovery" and what must be one of the wackiest Bolles covers of all. When I found this scan from a 1943 issue of Breezy Stories I had to do a double-take. How do you begin to explain it? Perhaps Netty became bored from all that posing and preening and so donned some gloves and a muffler and headed outside to catch some fresh air, glorying in the garish winter (nuclear winter?) sunset. It's almost as if Bolles was doing a riff on himself as Quintana might have interpreted the Netty girl. As bad as I'd like to have a copy of the Film Fun Netty girl issue in my collection I want this one ten times worse.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
So if forced to choose, which 10 Film Fun paintings would I most wish were still around? I've been grappling with this and to be honest, I've gone back and forth on several and my final (for now) list includes works from three categories. These are the iconic images that every Bolles fan would die for, other works from what could be called the high-period of Bolles art running from 1932 to 1939, and his early work from the 1920s. The first group simply must include the Bolles motorcycle girl from 1934, and his deco infused masterpiece from 1935. Both of these images are all over the web and each has been reworked by Greg Theakston in the guise of Bettie Page. If for no other reason you'd have to choose these because they would be the most valuable to ever hit the commercial market.
Our cowgirl is joined by her sister from south of the border. This lovely senorita debuted in 1934 and soon appeared in blotters, calendars and even on a box of chocolates. Sadly in each case efforts were made to remove Enoch's signature. Clearly the inspiration for this cover was either a model or a photo, she has none of the more mannered aspects that Bolles sometimes is criticized for. The composition is a variant of the Bolles "L" and in my mind is the best example of the pose Bolles ever did. It's got everything, a fabulous composition, the snappy costume and hat, drapery and of course, great footwear.