Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23 is World Turtle Day

You have to wonder how Bolles pitched the concept for this cover to Harry Donenfeld, the publisher of Gay Parisienne.  Sure, there would be the pretty girl as always, but why not add an animal? Not a cute puppy or pony; that angle worked like a sort of innocence pass that let the artist forego clothes on the girl (think Mabel Rollins Harris).  No, let's make it an aquatic reptile. Granted, Bolles did throw in some odd props on a few other Gay Parisienne  covers, including a tuba!  And you have to give him points for a girl wearing a bikini long before you'd see a suit at the beach that revealed anywhere near that much acreage.  The turtle, which I'm guessing is a Hawksbill, also seems quite content.  So, no blow-back from decency societies specializing in protecting wildlife from abusive pinups.     

Still, I just don't get it. Gay Parisienne was one of the hottest of all the so-called smoosh mags and the decency leagues stalked it like Clyde Beatty on the trail after big game. This oddball cover from 1936 just doesn't jibe with the magazine's notorious reputation, its pulpy pages chock-full of raunchy novels, dirty drawings and photos of naked girls.  It got Donenfeld hauled into court so many times he ended buying his way up a notch in the publishing hierachy, buying out National Allied Publications, after first suing them for nonpayment.  By May  1938 is pulps, Gay Parisienne and Spicy Stories were out of circulation, while at the same time  Donenfeld published the first Superman story in Action Comics.  Breezy Stories began recycling Bolles covers and his last new cover painting was for the June issue. 

For the first time in his career, Bolles was down to just one magazine, and a mere  two months later Film Fun had a new cover artist, Albert Fisher.  The Bolles girl, who made her debut in 1914 and who had been adorning three to five magazine covers a month for nearly a decade, was gone.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day is Lei Day!

I kid you not, May 1 is also officially known as Lei Day.  There was no way I could let this holiday pass without a Bolles and it was a lot of fun perusing covers for just the right example.  I've pretty much left this cover to the a 1931 issue of Hollywood Nights intact in its well-thumbed state.  For some reason I feel the wear adds something to it. 

Bolles did only a handful of covers for this magazine and others titles published by Henry Marcus' Follywood Publications. Among them are his only examples of pen and ink cover art out of the over 500 he created,  and this is one of his best. He would have been lucky to earn $40 for it. 

Hollywood Nights didn't last long; the combination of poor finances and the constant pursuit of the decency leagues would put Marcus out of business by the end of year.  But in the 1930s you couldn't put a good smoosh mag publisher down for long and by 1933 Marcus was back at it with a new publishing company  and new titles: Stolen Sweets, Tattle Tales, Bedtime Stories and Cupid's Capers.   Bolles teamed up with him again and produced the most provocative pulp covers ever printed (aside from Hugh Ward's sex-and--violence mash-ups, but they constitute an entirely different category).  They were successful, too successful. The Marcus lineup rose to the top (or sunk to the bottom, depending on your perspective) of the smoosh mag hit parade, and in the process became the equivalent of public enemy number-one for the New York vice cops and decency leagues.  Marcus would be out of business-again-before the end of 1934.  By then Bolles had moved on to another publisher.