Saturday, September 22, 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018

One-Off Part Six

Our newest edition of the the One-Off series happens to be the very first of all Enoch's one-offs, and his third magazine cover.  Puck was an odd duck, paddling back and forth from a partisan political rag to a sort of humor mag.  For a brief stretch the covers featured what you might call proto-pinups, which were painted by the likes of Rolf Armstrong, Harry Horst Meyers, Neysa McMein and our man Bolles. Batting cleanup in this stellar lineup was the Viennese artist,Raphael Kirchner. Before moving from Paris to New York in 1914, Kirchner had established a thriving career as a society artist as well as providing illustrations for the likes of La Vie Parisienne. His work for Puck showcased a French inflected and ungartered eroticism that was absent from American illustrators.  A masterful technician, he worked in a number of media and strongly influenced the work of Alberto Vargas, who took Kirchner's place as the artist for the Zeigfeld Follies after his untimely death in 1917.  

Unlike the the girls of Kirchner and Vargas, who were content lounging in the boudoir, the Bolles girl was outdoors and on the go. Other artists, most notably Fisher and Gibson, were also painting the so-called New American Girl, but the Bolles girl was different. While the girls of Fisher or Gibson might be content with a game of croquet, the Bolles girl would rather pole dance off a buoy.  

Years later Bolles revisited this theme. The buoy may have been updated, but our Bolles girl hadn't changed a bit. She still loved to boogie!   .  

Friday, August 3, 2018

RIP Mary Carlisle 1914-2018, A True Bolles Girl

I was very sorry to learn about the recent passing of the actress, Mary Carlisle, who well may have been the last living actress to have starred in a silent movie. Some of you may recall the post I made about Mary some months ago. In it I described how Enoch often used references for his magazine covers but as far as I could tell, Mary was the only case where he deliberately kept her likeness intact. And one look at Mary makes it clear why!  I was able to locate Mary and mailed her copies two magazine covers inspired by her and she graciously signed them for me. 

If you'd like to learn about the life and career of Mary here's a good place to start.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 3 is Stay Out of the Sun Day!

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Today's Bolles girl knows that if she gets too much sun her skin tone may end up matching her swimsuit! This charming cover hit the newsstands 83 years ago this month (in 1935, if you don't want to do the math) and is one of several Enoch painted over the years featuring sun parasols. I think used them to add some interest to the composition and I'd be very curious to know if the tips of the parasol were cropped out of view in the original painting. The overhang of the parasol, along with the girl's extended legs, each work to project the painting toward the viewer, and that cool blue shadow adds additional depth to the perspective.

Stay tuned to this channel for more Summer themed posts as well as the continuing "One-Off" series featuring magazines that Enoch only painted a single cover for.  And there may be a post in the near future with some Big Bolles news.  That's all I can say for now.  In the meantime, don't forget to use sunscreen of one sort or another when you go out in the sun.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

One-off Part Five


Our latest installment in the One-off series ranks as the biggest outlier of them all. Bolles would only paint two more covers for the movie fan magazine genre and this was his sole cover for Screen Romances. I think the only reason Bolles did the cover was due to the prodding of the magazine's art director, Abril Lamarque, who also served in that role for Film Fun. Initially, Lamarque was hired by Film Fun to draw monthly full page pen and ink panels but he was soon given additional responsibilities to rework the look of the  magazine.

While I'd rank this as a very successful cover and a good likeness, Bolles artistic DNA is anything but dominant. My theory is that he was assigned to make this cover as Rolf Armstrong-like as possible. Hence the gigantic signature, which is uncharacteristically camouflaged into the background. Neither Armstrong nor Bolles were shy about making their signatures pop out with bold tones.  Another reason I think Bolles channeled Armstrong is that his blending and tonality make the image look more like it was done with pastels, the medium Armstrong worked in (he had an enormous pallet of over a thousand pastels) than oil. In fact I think Armstrong took notice when Bolles produced a cover the movie fan magazine,Talking Screen (which was soon re-titled Silver Screen after the novelty of the "talkies" wore off).  Barely a month after Bolles' cover appeared, Armstrong duplicated the exact pose for a competing magazine (but that's another story left for later).

So why didn't Bolles do more of these? There certainly was a market for movie star portraiture and this example proves he could depict accurate likenesses in the prevailing style of the time. Bolles had also completed several full-figure poses of movie stars for Film Fun. The answer I think was a matter of economy and economics. More than once Bolles whipped out a cover painting for the spicy pulps (call them smooshes if you wish) within the span of a single day, and he was pretty much free to create what he wished with little or no meddling by the art director (if there was one). And for a time he had a virtual monopoly on them (Tattle Tales, Gay Book, Pep Stories, Bedtime Stories, Stolen Sweets, Spicy Stories, Gay Parisienne...). The money may not have been great but all those covers added up.  In contrast, the competition by artists for the movie fan mags was fierce and the covers required precise but flattering portraiture. 

But let's not lay blame on our man Bolles for taking the easy way out. Working for the movie fan mags would have yielded a modest number of beautiful but blandish images, each toeing to the approved style and closely based on stock head shots provided by the movie studios. Instead, we are witnesses to the three decade journey of an unfettered artistic original who left a legacy of nearly 600 magazine covers free from the dictates of art directors, finicky fans, ego-driven stars, and the priggish censor.  Lucky us!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

One-Off Part Four

Of all Bolles' one-shot covers today's example, published in 1929, reigns above all others. What a mashup!  There's the piquant; a fairy.  There's the pungent; she happens to be naked (except for the stylish shoes. No way Bolles could resist adding them). There's the peppery; she's embracing a rather dour peacock. And then the pleasing; the ultramarine field of pansies.  Yes, Ginger was preserved, perfectly!  Sadly, Bolles was never to paint another cover for this title. But if you want your own there's a really great copy currently for sale on eBay But don't hesitate, this auction ends in just a few hours!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Yesterday: March 29 was Little Red Wagon Day

In 1923 when this cover of Film Fun cover was published, this was as red as toy wagons got.  It wasn't until 1927 that the now ubiquitous Radio Flyer (then called the Liberty Coaster) debuted.  Curiously there are more covers of Bolles girls riding turtles than any four wheeled vehicle, either human or gasoline powered. As geometrically exacting as Bolles' art could be, I've long wondered why he didn't do any automobile advertising (or perhaps it's yet to be discovered).

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Enoch Bolles Loves International Pi(e) Day!

No matter how you slice it, our man Bolles loves pi/pie!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

March 10: International Bagpipe Day

This cover appeared at the very end of Enoch's nearly four decade career. The year was 1942. Sadly, the next issue of Film Fun would be its last.  There would be another Bolles painting in early 1943 for the debut issue of Titter (more on that in later as part of my serious on one-off's) and an enigmatic cover that appeared in the final issue of Breezy Stories published in 1949. But that's it.  As you may know, during this period Enoch was in and out of mental hospitals.  Yet he was still painting, and in fact continued to until his death three decades later.  During the early 40's Enoch was at home during what his doctors called "paroles" he resumed his work for Film Fun.  But even while hospitalized he would conscript nurses to serve as models in a spare room he converted into a studio. 

Despite his troubles, this cover serves as unequivocal evidence that Enoch's artistic chops were still intact, as was his inventiveness and humor (it also dispels the persisting false story that his career ended because of a debilitating stroke).  During this period he adopted emerging fashions and his girls began to sport hairdos reminiscent of Rita Hayworth or the popular Victory curl look.  At this time Enoch also became intrigued with adorning his girls in patterned material as is evident here by not one but three distinct tartans.  It all makes one wish that things would have turned out differently, Enoch was only 59 and there were new pinup magazines appearing in the newsstands. And things almost did.

Far from being burned out from the business of painting "chlorines", Enoch told one of his his grandchildren that he had some "new ideas" about pinups he wanted to explore. And after he left the hospital for good he tried to do something about it.  Enoch very likely learned of the revived career of his compatriot, Alberto Vargas, who was producing new pinups for Playboy.  So he painted some new samples that he took to their main competitor.  But alas, it was not to be. Penthouse was not in the market for pinup. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

One-Off Part Three

In this installment of single cover assignments Bolles completed we present perhaps the biggest oddball of his entire career. This cover showed its faceless face on the newsstands in 1937, and you have to wonder whether Enoch painted it out or left it blank from the get-go.  Ballyhoo was the creation of Norman Anthony, who back in the 1920's was the editor of Judge magazine during a time when Bolles was still occasionally contributing cover art.  Anthony then jumped ship to Film Fun where he pepped up the laughter content of the interior, and he may also have brought Bolles on board as its full-time cover artist. But Anthony's autobiography, which pretty much name drops everyone he ever had a drink with (a LONG list) curiously left Bolles name off the ledger, despite or perhaps because of Bolles' role in Anthony's success. When Ballyhoo debuted in 1931 it was an immediate sensation and within a couple issues was selling over 2 million copies an issue, more than every other magazine on the newsstand.  By 1937 however, it had gone stale and I suspect Anthony was getting bored.  It folded in 1939 and Anthony went onto other projects, none anywhere near as popular as Ballyhoo. But then again, no humor magazine published after Ballyhoo surpassed its initial popularity and it wasn't until the 1940s that Life magazine broke Ballyhoo's sale record. 

There's one more chapter to this story.  Some time back I bought a painting I knew was by Bolles but was was listed as unattributed, in large part because you couldn't see the girl's face in it. I had always assumed it was an illustration for an ad, but not so long ago I discovered it was actually a second cover painting that Bolles had done for Ballyhoo.  Do any of you Bolles fans out there know which issue it was?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018

One-Off Part Two

Today is the second installment in our series exploring magazines that Enoch contributed only a cover or two.  Its one one I've kept quiet about for years but it has started showing up on several other sites, so I it's no longer my secret.  This 1925 cover for Live Stories is actually a proof, a higher quality test print than the version you'd see on the newsstands. It's also the sole cover Bolles painted for the magazine.  And that's a shame because it ranks among his most dramatic compositions. It also showcases Bolles' particular strengths as an illustrator. 

Take a close look at her dress. Notice how deftly Bolles establishes the folds and pleats, using single, bold strokes of his brush. Get it wrong and you start over from the beginning. He was a master of rendering fabrics; the silky sheen of her gold lamé bodice is a lovely contrast against the gauzy transparency of the sleeves and skirt. And those emerald green accents and gold highlights on that turban-styled clouche tell you she is a classy girl, despite that alarming title.      

So even if you aren't a fan of the Bolles girl (does one exist?) wouldn't you agree she wins the award for the best dressed pinup? (as for the underdressed category...well that's a different contest). Why, even the beau of our swooning Bolles girl's is smartly suited. He's got that all the weighty authority of the Arrow Collar Man without being such a stuffed shirt.  My only lament is why oh why didn't the editor bring back Bolles for an encore?

Monday, January 15, 2018

One-Off Number One


Today we debut the first of an occasional series I'll be calling one-offs.  These are cases in which Bolles illustrated just a single cover for a periodical. While Bolles is most closely associated with the magazine Film Fun, you might be surprised to learn that he painted covers for nearly 30 other magazines.  For one reason or another, he often only painted just one or perhaps two covers before another artist took over, or in what appears to be the case here, the magazine folded. 

This charming example Bolles' art is showcased on a 1926 publication of of America's Humor.  I'm aware of only one other issue of this magazine (alas, the cover was by a different artist) which apparently was also published in 1926.  This was a busy time for Bolles, not only was he venturing from Film Fun to do covers for other magazines, he also was very busy painting Street Car card advertising art.  

The history of this magazine is a bit vague, but from what can be gathered from the amazing Galactic Central magazine resource site, America's Humor previous incarnation was Ziff's Magazine, a monthly humor periodical that had been published since 1923. Sadly, even with Bolles' artistry the retitled magazine didn't last, perhaps because the customers who purchased it because of the cover were less charmed by the contents. This wouldn't be the last time Bolles made the writers look bad.