Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cha Cha!!

I've long been frustrated by this cover-or I should say how it was treated.  Published in the waning days of 1937, barely six months later Bolles was gone, not only from Gay Parisienne but also Spicy Stories, Breezy Stories and even Film Fun.  In short he was out of the magazine illustration business entirely. An entire year passed before he painted a new cover for Film Fun, and in the interim the corner of the publishing landscape Bolles had long toiled had been plowed away. With the exception of Film Fun every other magazine he'd worked for had folded, along with just about all the rest of the so-called smoosh mags.  It was as if when Enoch left the building he took the entire genre with him. 

There will be more to say about this when the Bolles book gets published, and frankly this is why the pace of posts on this site has ebbed.  During the last year I've been directing a lot of effort into the manuscript and now that it is off off to my agent I need to become a bit more selective about what goes on the blog, lest I give away too many goodies that need to be debuted in the book.  But not to worry as I have scans of over 500 Bolles covers and plenty else to share.  

So back to this cover. The printing, as far as I can tell (alas, this issue is not part of my collection) was lamentable, as was the rule for this title.  The dramatic shadow over the girl's eyes, her sombrero, and the fan were all overexposed into a dark blob. The color of the entire composition muted. And you know that Bolles would not have painted her this way.  So I judiciously applied a little photoshop to create what I think is a truer version, though you can bet the original (do I wish she was still around) would be even livelier. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pattern Recognition: Today is Tartan Day

This cover from late 1942 is one of Bolles very last of all.  Film Fun, which started in 1915 folded two issues later, having had its second class postage privileges revoked by Grant Walker, the Postmaster General. He may have pulled the pulled the plug on the magazine, but it was by the directive of the Catholic National Organization for Decent Literature, which regularly sent his office lists of magazines they deemed too "stimulating" for the general public.  Film Fun sent some lawyers to Washington to plead their case but it was to no avail.  The final issue included a short tribute to Bolles who aside from the occasional fan letter, had not garnered any mention within its pages since the late 1920s.  Along with this being a really nice painting, it's an example of a trend in Bolles work that had only just starting showing up in his art. 

Take a closer look.  Can you see a pattern in this cover and the others I've posted?  Well of course you can, and therein lies the trend.  Bolles was starting to integrate complex patterns in his outfits: tartan, stripes, gingham, none of which were evident during the previous three decades of his career. He had resorted to the occasional polka-dot and a lot of outfits included floral motifs (strategically positioned to hint at anatomical details) but that was about it.  But in 1941 he started a series of covers with excruciatingly exacting patterns, beginning with stripes.  They are great but you have to wonder why all the extra work.  Then there was his mathematical tour de force, the showgirl cover for the first issue of  Titter, with the exquisitely rendered fishnet stockings.  Published in 1943 it was his last cover.  What a going away present for his fans, then and now.