Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Take a Friendly Swipe

I generally take a dim view of artists' attempts at swiping Bolles, as Enoch himself did.  His grandson told me how he'd rail against other artists he felt were swiping his stuff.  Even the editors of Film Fun noticed and in the mid-30s initiated a lawsuit against the magazine, Movie Humor, in large part no doubt because of George Quintana's line by line ripoffs of Bolles' covers (and if you are wondering why I refer to him as Quintana and not Quantance, the author Dian Hanson will be coming out with her take on the debate later this year in her new pinup book). Although the suit against Movie Humor was denied, the presiding judge granted a temporary injunction because of the "confusingly similar cover format." 

I take exception, however, to the lively interpretation of a classic 1937 Bolles cover you see here. I first came across it in an article in the New York Times article on a company that reproduces old menus for a line of products and of course I had to investigate further (as if there was a choice).  The image was the cover to the Latin Quarter restaurant and was appeared around 1950, though it seems for more contemporary to me. Although the artist, Vanni Cola (I've had no luck tracking down any info on her/him) accurately followed the composition, the simplified color scheme and strong use of red works really well. I also like the bulls-eye, which was a visual trope Bolles used many times. And the way the typeface (hand drawn?) is worked into the image aces it. 

So I contacted the friendly folds at Cool Culinaria and we had a lively discussion on the intersection of our mutual interests that led to a blog post about it on their site.

Finally, the klutzy pinup theme of this cover--while pretty much the rule for the likes of Elvgren and others--is relatively rare for Bolles. Limiting my search to Film Fun, I found no examples at all until 1932 and only five total out of over 200 covers. Curious two of the first three covers by substitute artists for the magazine used klutzy themes.


darwination said...

Always love seeing re-purposed pin-up down through the years.

A quick photoshop overlay with lower resolution images available to me shows a definite trace job:

There are plenty of different types of swipes. An artist might be inspired by the theme, the pose, a color scheme. Then there's flat-out appropriation, and Bolles has suffered his share on magazine and album covers and who knows what else. Suffered is maybe the wrong word, as it is certainly a form of flattery...

After our last very surprising conversations on the subject, I'm curious to see what Hanson has to say about Quintana. I think I might have a kinder view of his pin-up art than you do, but I do think his worst covers rate lower than that other Henry Marcus employed girlie pulp artist, Reginald Greenwood.

I don't think you can post images in comments (and I probably wouldn't want to besmirch your beauty blog with some of these images anyways, LOL) but here is a funny swipe progression starting with the Bolles cover (a sub-par Bolles imo) for Film Fun 1936-08 (excuse the uneven image quality, most of these images from my files are from little eBay pics):

followed by Peter Driben's swipe on the cover of High Heel Magazine 1937-12:

followed by a UK artist copying Driben for either a pirated or re-purposed issue (the whole subject of UK reprint/pirate editions is fascinating, the cover artists are often terrible) of Tattle Tales from I'm guessing 1938. I own this one, the indicia is not much help. The artist has even hidden a hand - likely because they are hard to draw:

followed by Driben's return to the theme (a not so great painting from his classic phase around 1950, his early pulp work is very uneven) for the cover of Beauty Parade 1952-01:

The skates are back, and the swipe has come full circle :)

Alan Wrobel said...

another great and entertaining post Jack! As General Patton used to say 'Tanks a lot!'