Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Super Bolles! Today is National Girls & Women Sports Day

Huddle up! Our feature today concerns female football players, a theme quite popular among illustrators as far back as the 1920s. I've mentioned before that Bolles is widely acknowledged to have introduced athleticism to the pinup genre. Though it is true that many of his covers had a lot in common with the healthy outdoors girls of Fisher and Christy popularized a decade earlier, Bolles went further. He often had his girls participate in in traditionally male sports or other activities that in some cases appeared to place them in mortal peril.
The examples here are interesting for different reasons. Our Punter is from a 1930 cover is notable enough to have been reproduced in several books, including one on magazine illustration by Steven Heller and also in a Playboy publication on what else, sex. The quarterback is from 1932 and seems to me to be a prototype of the sort of pinup covers that would become popular three decades later. I've read in a book on the history of football that the Fullback (from 1934) was a spoof of a Saturday Evening Post cover by Sheridan. Though I've never been able to find that particular issue I do have another of his other football covers. His work is terrific and deserves more acclaim. And our Center is from 1935, and all I can say is I wonder how Bolles got away with it. Below is a scan of the original painting and if you ask me, the signature looks a bit suspicious, too timid and not worked into the composition as you'd expect. Plus as you can see the signature does not appear in the printed image. I've seen a signed Bolles cover painting where the signature was cropped out from the magazine image, but it was evident that the art editor made this decision to enhance the composition rather than to deprive Bolles of his due. This painting may still be available from Illustration House if you are interested. In an upcoming post I'll be featuring another original Bolles from 1925 that will be coming up for auction.

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