Monday, March 10, 2014

Bolles Fan-tastic!

Even the most casual web-search for Enoch Bolles will reveal a slew of products slathered with his copies of his magazine cover images, some tastefully done, others not so.  While it is gratifying to see how popular Bolles work remains, the majority of these products give Bolles no credit at all. Worse, much of it is simply ripped from existing scans (some from this site), many of which are not particularly detailed.  So when I came across Dan Gantner’s work I was blown away.  They are not simply high dpi scans taken from well preserved or careful photoshopped magazine covers, the images you see are reworked directly from high resolution scans of the original paintings. And the Film Fun logo isn't scanned from a cover that's pasted in, it's totally revectored. I was able to talk to Dan and learn more about his work and passion for Enoch Bolles. 

This is the obvious question but what you do requires incredible amounts of time,effort and attention to detail. What ultimately motivates you?
I do it because I love to work with the images--from the retouching to the printing, framing and shipping handsomely. What more could you ask for than to work with great images all day?

There are so many artists and pinup illustrators you could have chosen. What is it about Bolles that you like in particular?
He obviously took so much joy and care in his work and his technique is just sublime. His girls instantly transport you to another place and time in a way that only the best illustrators can achieve. I feel the same way about many of the other illustrators I have worked with in my shop, like the fantasy work of Virgil Finlay and Frank R Paul, Peter Driben's work for Wink and Titter, Paul Rader's outrageous sexploitation work for Midwood and Beacon in the 50s and 60s.

What you do goes so far beyond the typical scan, clean-up, cut and paste that you see with products that have used Bolles imagery or the works of other illustrators.   Could you take us through your process?
The original Film Fun magazine covers were printed on an offset press using halftone dots, a set of four color screens that create the appearance of continuous tone. When you scan the old covers in order to reprint them, you generate moiree patterns, pixelated or off-register colors that leak through the subsequent printing. I decided to work with the existing photos of the original Bolles artwork. Basically, it's the difference between working with the first and second generation reproduction of the original art. Since my experiments with enlarging a scanned Film Fun logo to the size I wanted often resulted in tattered curves and jangly lines, I imported a scan of the logo into an illustration program and outlined the letters using vector paths, which scale and reproduce with razor sharp crispness. The Film Fun covers were blessedly straightforward due to the white background and minimalist type treatment (thanks, Enoch!). I did this process on several of Drieben's Wink and Whisper covers, essentially recreating the entire cover from scratch. The famous Whisper keyhole cover of Nov. 1949 was a total rebuild, recreating the keyhole and banner logo, and typesetting the copy anew with the original fonts. The result, printed on archival photo paper and an Espon piezo printer using 9 archival inks, is an incredibly crisp, faithful reproduction quite possibly more brilliant than any of the original issues.

Thanks for this tour of your work, Dan. 

And for those of you who are interested in seeing more, here's the link to Dan's Etsy site.  Check it out!