|The November 1941 cover of Film Fun|
What's even more curious is that Painter fully acknowledged how unique this image was, both inside the pages as well as in the design of the cover itself. It was as if he wanted the magazine, which was first published in 1915, to go out with style. In the table of contents he even identified the cover image as the "new Enoch Bolles girl." And then there's the cover itself. The Breezy masthead on this cover is smaller than usual and deliberately positioned one side to both complement the composition and leave it uncovered. Even curiouser is the complete absence of the dateline, banners, coverlines. There's no text on the cover at all, not ever the price! I have to wonder if there has ever been another magazine anywhere that has been published with the image and nothing else.
So where did Painter get his hands on a unique Bolles so many years after Bolles had done anything new. Several possibilities occur to me. One is that this wasn't a brand new cover but an overpainting done using the 1941 Film Fun cover art. This isn't too much of a stretch because Bolles had reworked a number of his Film Fun covers as well as a few other titles, both for reuse on other magazine covers and for his own personal pleasure. He may have done this for previous issue of Breezy Stories although I hope this isn't the case. If this is a Bolles, it's got to be the worst thing of his that ever saw print, which is ironic because it was inspired by one of his most alluring covers, the amazing 1933 Bedtime Stories.
But I don't think is was an overpainting and I'll use another example of a reworked painting to illustrate why. Below is an example of a 1938 Film Fun cover that Enoch revised a year later, changing not only the outfit but also her hand poses and the hairdo. This amounts to quite a few alterations but they are minor compared to the differences between the martini girl and the Breezy Stories cover.
So let's look at them side by side. Obviously there are some major differences in the position of her legs, and left arm. More significant, the angle of the faces in the Film Fun and Breezy Stories covers differ. Her head on the Film Fun cover is turned a bit less which reveals more of her face, particularly her right eye and lips. This difference is quite subtle but as a revision it would be more difficult to execute than simply reworking an arm or leg, or adding clothes.
There's another reason I don't think it was unlikely to have been a rework and that's because the original Film Fun painting appears to have suffered an ignominious fate. Here's a photo out of a later issue of Film Fun and you can clearly see the painting serving as a prop in the Film Fun office in a photoshoot of a model who appeared in the same issue. I doubt very much that Bolles was able to get his hands back on it and it pains me to imagine the ultimate fate of this fabulous painting.
So that puts me back to square one. What was the story behind our mystery cover. My theory is that was not a new painting per se but an older and unused painting that Bolles had completed years earlier, in 1941 to be exact. More specifically, I think this painting was a so-called "comp" or comprehensive sketch that Bolles would have submitted to the art editor of Film Fun for consideration as a potential cover theme. From the final version it makes sense to assume the editor liked the pose but asked Bolles to tone it down a bit (little good that did, a year later the magazine was forced to fold by the Postmaster General for being "salacious") and so was born the martini girl. There's also a piece of evidence that supports this story. Submitted below for your consideration is exhibit "a", which comes from my own collection. This is a comprehensive sketch Bolles completed for what would be the October 1941 Film Fun cover, published just a month earlier than the martini girl cover.