Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Take a Friendly Swipe

I generally take a dim view of artists' attempts at swiping Bolles, as Enoch himself did.  His grandson told me how he'd rail against other artists he felt were swiping his stuff.  Even the editors of Film Fun noticed and in the mid-30s initiated a lawsuit against the magazine, Movie Humor, in large part no doubt because of George Quintana's line by line ripoffs of Bolles' covers (and if you are wondering why I refer to him as Quintana and not Quantance, the author Dian Hanson will be coming out with her take on the debate later this year in her new pinup book). Although the suit against Movie Humor was denied, the presiding judge granted a temporary injunction because of the "confusingly similar cover format." 

I take exception, however, to the lively interpretation of a classic 1937 Bolles cover you see here. I first came across it in an article in the New York Times article on a company that reproduces old menus for a line of products and of course I had to investigate further (as if there was a choice).  The image was the cover to the Latin Quarter restaurant and was appeared around 1950, though it seems for more contemporary to me. Although the artist, Vanni Cola (I've had no luck tracking down any info on her/him) accurately followed the composition, the simplified color scheme and strong use of red works really well. I also like the bulls-eye, which was a visual trope Bolles used many times. And the way the typeface (hand drawn?) is worked into the image aces it. 

So I contacted the friendly folds at Cool Culinaria and we had a lively discussion on the intersection of our mutual interests that led to a blog post about it on their site.

Finally, the klutzy pinup theme of this cover--while pretty much the rule for the likes of Elvgren and others--is relatively rare for Bolles. Limiting my search to Film Fun, I found no examples at all until 1932 and only five total out of over 200 covers. Curious two of the first three covers by substitute artists for the magazine used klutzy themes.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21: Reptile Awareness Day

Our Bolles girl is the embodiment of reptile awareness.  This image appeared on the February 1924, the year Bolles took over as sole cover artist for Film Fun. It was a very inventive period for Enoch and he produced several other gangbuster covers that year.  While it may seem that scaly creatures would make anything but an endearing prop for pinups, Bolles revisited the reptile theme several more times during his career.  He not only pulled another croc out of his alligator suitcase of props but also employed snakes and turtles. In fact he did more covers with reptiles than with puppies.

While our flapper has a bad case of herpetophobia the Bolles girl on the right certainly isn't shedding any tears over her pet crocodile. The image was used in a series of ink blotters featuring artwork by Bolles but as far as I know was never appeared on the cover of a magazine.

And to finish on a high note, here's a charmer whose seriously wrapped up with serpent awareness. 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wrecking Ball

What is it with Miley?  She needs to enlarge her fashion sense beyond the same pale underthings and take a fashion cue from our Bolles girl, who demonstrates how to ride a wrecking ball in style and sure-handed authority. Her jaunty work uniform looks right in place on the job site, and unlike Miley she took the time to lace up her boots.  Some time back I wrote about another underdressed girl of the music scene who seems to have picked up on up some Bolles girl poses and the post got a notice in Esquire magazine. They were a bit ambivalent about the connection, but that's not about to stop me from looking. The Bolles girl lives on! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Aviation Day!

A great Bolles cover to celebrate Aviation Day, a theme that he revisited a number of times over the years.  Sorry for the long layover but my carrier has experienced some mechanical difficulties.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused in your viewing pleasure.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Oom Pah Pah! Today is Tuba Day

I've been dying to post this cover for Tuba day but missed my cue two years in a row.  No way was I going to let that happen again. You just got to love this image but I've long wondered how she made it past the art editor.  Consider that Gay Parisienne was among the most notorious of the so-called under the counter pulps. It had a sordid reputation to live up to. Just how Enoch managed to convince a dirty minded salesman that a girl perched on a brass tuba would sell magazines is beyond me.  But then again, she is a Bolles girl!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

National Golf Day! Tee up with a Bolles Girl


To celebrate National Golf day we start out with another fine example of Bolles advertising work. Clearly the assignment called for realism and Bolles succeeded in subsuming his personal expressiveness to meet the dictates of the advertising editor. If you were to look for any giveaways this is a Bolles the most obvious would be the treatment of her hair. Below we see several other birdies in great position on the fairway.  Curiously Bolles was no golfer. His favored pole was for fishing.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Best from Bolles

I just finished reading some comments from an old post at the terrific Illustration Art blog managed by David Apatoff, who moonlights as a historian on both modern and historical illustration.  At some point during the discussion our man Bolles was brought up and unfortunately the comments by followers reverted to the standard criticisms I've heard many times before. To wit: he was just a cartoonist, he was derivative, his girls were doughy and devoid of bone structure (Driben yes, but this is emphatically NOT the recipe for the Bolles' girl!).  

Advertising art by Bolles, 1915
One of my goals for this blog has been to show through example that he was actually a far more complete and adaptable artist than the dusty little niche he has long been assigned. Granted, Bolles produced over 560 magazine covers of pretty girls by the time he quit the scene in 1943, a legacy hard to ignore, especially considering his output may have exceeded all other illustrators of his era with the exception of the amazingly prolific Harrison Fisher (thanks to Norm Platnick for the tallying!). Just a short journey through his oeuvre would reveal not a single Bolles style, but a succession of Bolles girls who evolved to match the fashions of the times.  That's another strength of Bolles which is ignored, his girls were far and away the best dressed of any pinup artist (ok, the scarcity of clothes on modern pinups does put artists at a disadvantage). 

Even more revealing is Bolles' largely unknown career as a commercial illustrator outside of the magazine industry. His early work included pen and ink illustration but he soon specialized in color, producing hundreds of illustrations for campaigns ranging from cigarettes to ocean liners. He even did a few film star portraits for the more mainstream movie mags and in the late 1920s, as well as create a series of posters for movie studios.  Clearly, Bolles was an artist comfortable with a variety of media who could adapt (or mask) his style depending on the needs of the client.  He was sought out by advertisers not only because of ability at drafting pretty girls during a period when every able illustrator was perfecting their own, but also because of his more general skills in composition and as a draftsman.

Portrait of Bolles Great-granddaughter, Joanna, circa 1960
The final examples I want to share come from Bolles personal work.  It is a surprising fact that many commercial illustrators did not paint for recreation, but for many reasons Bolles was compelled to. He wrote of spending weeks or months on a single painting, reworking it over and over and experimenting with different approaches until he was satisfied.  He actually painted two portraits of his great-granddaughter Joanna and this only after going through multiple sketches.  Snowscapes were a personal favorite of Bolles, a theme which he managed to integrate into his commercial work as well. 
Tappan Zee river, circa unknown
No one would suggest that Bolles belongs along side the superstars of the Golden Age; the likes of Rockwell, Leyendecker or Cornwell.  Bolles himself would resist that. But he certainly deserves more than to be cast as an extra. His pinup work was created over a half century ago yet it remains fresh and carries a currency that resonates to fans young and old. 

Given this, it's only fair that the Bolles girl has the last say on this matter. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Enoch Bolles would like to alert you that January 11 is Cigarettes are Hazardous to your Health Day

Has any other pinup artist embraced the cigarette as much as Bolles?  He used it as a prop in his second magazine cover, published by Judge way back in 1914, over than a decade before any cigarette company dared show a woman smoking in a magazine ad.  Bolles himself didn't smoke but he did advertising art for cigar and cigarette companies and was so particular about how his girls wielded their smokes that he once had is son-in-law sit for him so he could get it just right for a Film Fun cover.  George Petty made a lot more money than Bolles putting his girls in cigarette ads but you'll never find a single one of them taking a puff, Petty didn't think it was lady-like.  What a hypocrite! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!!

Our fun loving covergirl is the actress, Sally O'Neil. She'd been in the movies since the mid 20's but at the time this cover appeared in 1930 her film career was nearing its end. Apparently, Sally had a strong Jersey twang that didn't suit her well with the advent of the talkies. The pronouncement that the cover was "specially posed" was a fabrication, as was a painfully contrived interview with her printed in this issue. There was little chance a famous star, or even a Hollywood hopeful, would tromp up two stories to Bolles' studio located in the midst of the magazine publishing district in New York.  Bolles instead relied on stock studio photos to complete this cover as well as others that the editors of Film Fun had been occasionally experimenting with since 1928 (However, Enoch's daughter once told me that Lupe Velez actually did sit for her cover, which makes sense as it is far and away the best of the series).  
Bolles could do fine likenesses and completed three standard portrait covers for a couple other movies magazines but they were time consuming, and there were plenty of other illustrators who did nothing but specialize in portrait covers for the likes of Photoplay and its competitors.  And frankly, Bolles' portrait covers don't have that spark his original creations do. I think the editors of Film Fun came to realize this as well and soon after this cover, ended the experiment. Thankfully!