Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pluck of the Irish, à la Bolles

This may be the only Saint Patrick's theme Bolles ever did. At least I've not run into any others. But it is a really great image and the outfit looks like something you might see in the bars tonight. If you're wondering why I've left it so rough (especially given the feedback on earlier posts where we pretty much agreed that more photoshopping was better than less), well there is a reason. And that is because this image is not simply a copy of Film Fun from 1927, it's a proof to the issue. Proofs were test runs done by the printer to make sure everything about the image was acceptable. Often proofs were a bit higher in quality than the typical covers, and were printed on better paper. You can identify them because they don't have any printing on the back.
But the main reason I'm leaving this unadorned is that I am assuming that Enoch himself may have had a look at this very page, perhaps giving it his ok. And for me that's reason enough. The last thing I'd want to do is digitally remove any sign obvious or not, that he had a direct connection to this image.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Jack. Thanks for the good work. Interesting signature too. I wonder if you could work up a post on all of EB's diff signatures. Also, are you aware of any film of him? Any newsreels, or interviews?

Jack R said...

That's a great idea with the signatures, as Bolles loved to tinker with his. I only wish there were some interviews. I have only one photo of him at work and it was an article on his commercial advertising. Not a word on all his magazine covers (of course there's still hope).

Jack R said...

I'm posting some comments from GH, who really knows his stuff, and I'll interject some responses.
GH in Quotes
"What struck me about your comments (and this blog is really wonderful) is the idea that Bolles ever saw a copy of any proof sheet. I knew Dick Sprang, the Batman comic book artist who wrote a lot of stuff without credit for Film Fun. His first wife was a photographer who shot a lot of the starlets who appeared in the magazine- that was done in house with the exception of the material they got for free. This was a low end mag- basically a grindshop- folks produced copy and art- all work for hire. This may well have been a mob front operation like some of the other places Bolles worked. They had no artistic rights. If it sold mags it was great. The editor would tell you what art sold mags. But seeing proofs- that was highly unlikely."
JR: Actually Bolles was an exception as I have found proofs he had stashed away in boxes, along with comps and other sketches of his magazine and advertising art.

"The editors were idiots. All they looked at were the bottom line. Grind it out. Fortunately Bolles art sold mags (and frankly continues to sell stuff). His artistic vision and the public (to the extent there was a public as these were essentially soft core mags by 1930’s sensibilities) merged completely. He sold mags. So he was incredibly successful in terms of attaining what he wanted to do with art and commercially unsuccessful as he sold all rights.
My wife, (who does great portraits) points out that his anatomy is all wrong- the paintings are cartoons (and she has looked at one on my wall for 20years)."
JR: I would instead call Bolles a mannerist, as he could do work that was nearly photorealistic (even some of his later Film Funs). But of course this is my own biased perspective.

"Gibson even in his decline was seen by a lot more readers than Bolles likewise Flagg. However neither is remembered much today- don’t mix up history with contemporary taste."
JR: Good point. What I should have said was that they had far farther to fall (out of the public favor) that Bolles could have. And I do think Bolles flexibility in style has something to do with the current interest in his work.