Monday, February 22, 2010

Bolles on Ice. Very Nice!

Sorry for the long absence. Blame it on my day job.

In celebration of the winter Olympics I thought it only appropriate to feature one of the sports and also a classic theme in pinup. It was probably George Petty, with his series of paintings for the Ice Capades programs, who did more to popularize the theme of pinup on ice than any other artist. But he certainly wasn't the only illustrator to mine that vein. Our man Enoch produced some fine examples, including this one from the January 1942 issue of Film Fun. Included below for your edification is Bolles' pencil sketch for the cover. Bolles produced at least three other preliminary drawings and to me it's interesting that after nearly two decades of Film Fun covers--and in the final months of the magazine--Bolles was still at it, working on different poses to come up with just the right version.

I've also posted another nice skating cover from Breezy Stories. Sorry for the condition of this issue, but I only have the scan and am not sure what year it was published. If I had to guess it would be 1935, but the odd thing is that this cover has a 'real' Bolles signature, and not the engraved version I wrote about in a previous entry. As far as I know it's the only cover of Breezy he actually signed.

I don't know about you but I think our Bolles girl deserves a perfect score of 10 for artistry.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fairy Lust

Here we have what is, to the best of my knowledge, Enoch's first cover for Film Fun, from 1922. I've photoshopped it but did so with my best approximation of how the chromatics of the original painting would have appeared, perfect printing permitting. There are several interesting aspect of the cover, first I admire the care put into depicting the moving picture camera, which looks to my naïve eye to be an accurate rendition of a particular model, and getting that detail right would certainly have been important to Bolles. Then there's that rainbow, which at first blush would seem to have been crudely rendered, with loose brushwork not at all evident in any of the rest of the composition. But Bolles didn't hurry over it. From examples I've seen by other artists of his era this blotchy sort of treatment was the standard method for depicting rainbows, far removed from the airbrushed look we now expect. I have no idea why this was or when illustrators made the change to the more homogenized effect. And of course the the most obvious points of interest are those iridescent fairy wings. My guess is the transparent effect with the title is courtesy of Bolles. Enoch was a master at lettering and could easily have done the lettering for this cover, which would have vexed even the best engraver.
Next we jump ahead a few years 1929 and the inaugural cover of Ginger. I need not point out the differences which are obvious even to the most casual observer. In this case our Bolles girls is not only more assertively entwined (a Bolles theme we've dealt with in the past) but also essentially undressed, aside than the nondescript foot ware which qualifies as the most boring pair of pumps that ever graced a Bolles cover. But then, who would have bought this magazine for the shoes. Ginger lingered a couple years on the newsstands but this was the only cover graced by Bolles.

And finally we turn to our third bewinged maiden, from 1934, and once again, as best as I can tell, this is the first cover Bolles painted for this particular periodical. Gay Parisienne was a magazine that was in the eye of the decency squads the day it first hit the newsstands, no thanks to Bolles' smoking fairy (check out those hand poses!). Unlike Ginger, in this case he painted every subsequent cover of Gay Parisienne until the middle of 1938 (the magazine may have folded then, but
Bolles' health also took a turn downwards at the same time). And right at this very second it suddenly strikes me that this might be some sort of trend or signal by Bolles. Here we have examples of his inaugural covers for three different magazines, all featuring wings. Perhaps the editors were hoping the magazines would fly off the newsstands?

Note: I'll be off for the next two weeks, but stay tuned. I'm working on a series about the girls who modeled for Bolles and will feature a previously unpublished painting!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Second Hand Smokers

The girl in a recent post had such lovely hands that I thought it was time once again to feature them. And so I picked out a few of my favorite poses brandishing Enoch's preferred prop, a cigarette. As many of you well know, Bolles girls had a close relationship with smokes that was evident from the very beginning of his career. His second published magazine cover, an issue of Judge from 1914 featured what else but a girl walking a high wire with a cigarette! ...

While sorting through potential images to use in this post, it dawned on me that virtually every composition I found was different. I hadn't expected that at all because Bolles so often relied on his standard hand poses, namely the extended pinky and "W". At least this was the case when the girls were bare handed. But pass her a smoke and all bets were off. Bolles was no longer content with the norm. A long while back I wrote about the incident where Enoch was dissatisfied with a painting of a girl and cigarette, so much so that he somehow managed to enlist his son-in-law, a certified non-smoker (he was a national champion bicyclist), and get him to hold a pose with a cigarette until Enoch had the precise look he wanted.

Bolles also was a non-smoker though he nothing against doing work for cigarette manufacturers, but for what companies I haven't the faintest whiff. I've seen sketches and paintings of cigarette ads but have yet to find any published examples. However, his best known advertising illustration was cigarette related. He created the Windy girl for Zippo lighters (a story I'll be recounting in an upcoming post). Unfortunately when Zippo reissued the lighter as a collectible in 1993, they called her a "Varga," a slap in the face both to Bolles and Alberto Vargas, who was pressured into signing his work for Esquire as Varga by David Smart, ostensibly because it was more "euphonious" but in reality because the name Vargas was simply too ethnic for him. Plus Smart expropriated the trademark to Varga without Alberto's knowledge...But that's another story.

Though Vargas was a smoker he would allow no cigarette to touch his girls' lips. The same went for Petty, his girls could be in the cigarette ad but the boys had to do the puffing. For Bolles it was a different story. He had long recognized that aside from giving a girl something to do with her hands, the addition of a cigarette lent a certain...air about her.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Most Famous Bolles Swipe...Ever!

We've talked about her before: she might have been the first yoga pinup, or perhaps the magazine cover that redefined what pinup was and what it wasn't, or maybe simply the hottest pinup cover of all time (according to no less than Smilby). It's no surprise that other illustrators would look at her and wonder, could I...should I?
But who would ever have thought that the master of pinup would turn to an obscure Bolles cover (it was rare the day it hit the newsstands) and ponder the question. But indeed Alberto Vargas did just that and reworked her for one of his gatefolds for Playboy back in 1967 and in some ways she well may have been more of an homage than a swipe, with the classic high voltage Bolles smile Vargas adorning her. I showed the pair of images to the late Reid Austin, who was the personal assistant to Vargas and had as much to to with reinvigorating his career as anyone, and he wasn't quite sure what to make of it. And later what turns up but another variation, done by Billy Devorss variation around 1941. Neither of them are exact copies, but if you were working with a horizontal aspect ratio then you had to make some changes. To me what is interesting is that as hard as these talented artists worked to remake the image in their own style, they both come up a bit short. Like the Bolles cover or not (and not everyone does) it is certain that his particular geometry was hard to improve upon. There are lots of other Bolles poses that other artists have been inspired by but to even attempt this one is a real stretch.
Postscript: Do you think that Vargas swiped DeVorss and not Bolles? It certainly seems so looking at these, though I know that Vargas had a large collection of Bolles magazine covers. But when you line these up it looks more like DeVorss did is variation on Bolles and then Vargas did his off DeVorss.