Sunday, November 22, 2009

In the Clouds Over Our Bolles Girl

After the years I've spent hunting down the work of Enoch Bolles, "new" finds are few and far between, so this cover was a real joy to have come across. And what a nice image it is. I love the perspective and the nightscape of the city far below. Typical of most of Bolles' covers for Snappy Stories that depict a couple, it is the heroine who is in control of the situation. In fact, it's a good thing her beau is safely seated; he's so giddy with the sight of her, one false grope and he'd be careening over the precipice. Though from the looks of her it would be no great loss. Or perhaps I'm misreading the story line.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Style Behind the Cover: Abril Lamarque

If a newsstand was a speakeasy and magazines drinks, Film Fun would be the publishing equivalent of soda water. Pop the cork and you're blasted with an attention grabbing spray of bubbles and gas, which just as quickly hisses away into the ether without a hint of aftertaste, leaving you thirsty for another. It was the ultimate publishing ephemera during a time when an issue of Esquire could run over 200 pages and a half million words with works by literary luminaries such as Dos Passos and Hemingway. But Film Fun had some heavyweights in its bullpen. And foremost among them was its first art editor, who went on to become one of the most important magazine designers of the first half of the 20th century. He was also a master caricaturist during the time when that art form was at its zenith.

Abril Lamarque joined Film Fun soon after it was acquired in the mid 1920s by Dellacorte publishing from the financially tipsy Leslie-Judge, a unwise sale because Film Fun was the only solvent periodical out of their lineup. At the ripe young age of 20 one might presume Lamarque a bit too big for his britches to shape the magazine, but you'd have bet wrong. Despite his youth Lamarque had large ambitions and sophisticated ideas about design and he applied them in Film Fun, and later other Dellacorte publications. Aside from his editorial duties, Lamarque also produced spot illustrations, caricatures of film stars and for many years a one page cartoon, some examples of which I've included here. While with Delacorte, Lamarque contributed to a number of other ventures including a short lived prototype of the comic book entitled what else, The Funnies that debuted (and folded) in 1929, and the wildly successful Ballyhoo, which influenced later generations of humor magazines ranging from Mad to National Lampoon. Among his other creative inventions were imaginative variations of crossword puzzles, one which was intended to be read over the airwaves and another based on caricatures of what else, film stars.

Lamarque hired and nurtured staff who themselves would become influential designers such as the late Otto Storch, who credited Lamarque for sticking with him while he was learning the ropes and ruining assignment after assignment. His eye for talent took him to unusual places, including a back shed in New York where he found the folk artist Karol Kozlowski, whom he championed and brought to wide attention in the academic art world. Not surprisingly for a man of such manifold talents, Lamarque eventually moved on and took a step up from Film Fun to where else, The New York Times, where he oversaw a major design of the Sunday magazine that still bears some of his touches.

His career grew over the years to include consulting for many major corporations and design work that graced the covers of leading magazines with his unique skills and vision. Lamarque died in 1999. A noted amateur magician who created many original tricks, his passing was honored by a broken wand ceremony led by the Society of American Magicians.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bidding Adieu to Intimate Apparel

We end our week of appreciation for intimate apparel as interpreted by Enoch Bolles with this lovely painting from Snappy Stories. I believe the year is 1926 but am not certain. In this case I actually do have a physical copy of this in my collection, but only the cover. For reasons evident to Bolles fans, a lot of Snappy subscribers would carefully clip the covers and then toss the contents, presumably after at least giving them the once over. The covers however, got the over and over but yet when I find them they are nearly always still in pristine condition.
The covers Bolles did for Snappy Stories were a departure as they had more involved compositions and narrative themes absent in most all his other magazine work. Typically the painting would depict a key event from one of the featured stories within the pages of the magazine, or perhaps it was the other way around. It was often the case that pulp writers were shown the cover selected by the art editor and instructed to craft a story after it. It gives a whole new meaning to the "tale" wagging the dog.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Intimate Apparel Week: Sheer Delight!

We can't do justice to the theme of intimate apparel without including this image, which appeared on the October 1937 issue of Film Fun. It's among of the most sought after of all his magazine work and I still don't have a copy of it, so I was forced to post a photo of the original painting. Alas, it's not in my collection either. This image, along with the one posted yesterday provide ample evidence of Bolles' mastery in depicting the texture of clothing, be it velvety, silky or sheer. And of course we mustn't forget the shoes. Manolo Blahniks' got nothing on Bolles.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Intimate Apparel Market Week: A celebration made for Enoch Bolles

Yet again, we invoke yet another arcane holiday as a pretense for celebrating the art of Enoch Bolles. And even the most casual fan of his knows that intimate apparel and Enoch Bolles go hand in silk glove. In fact much of Bolles early work as a fashion illustrator included ads for ladies unmentionables, and he used this experience to good effect throughout his career as a cover artist.
To start things off off we turn to one of most well known of all Bolles covers, from the November 1936 issue of Film Fun. I've stripped out the text so we can focus our attention fully on Polly. The bird is pretty cute too.