Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year by Enoch Bolles

Could this be not only the classiest girl in a coupe glass, but also the first?  By now even the most casual of followers of this blog knows I am not one to be shy about pointing out original examples by Bolles that have since become standards in the world of pinup art.  And the girl in the glass is one of the best.  None other than Dita von Teese has turned it into her most famous stage acts (although she uses a Martini glass).  If I can find an earlier example by another artist you'll be the first to know, but for now let's offer a toast to the new year in memory of our man Bolles.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 21 really is National Flashlight day!

For your perusing pleasure, we present this rare Bolles from 1932 that goes perfectly with today's celebration.  The cover was his final contribution to Pep Stories, a magazine so notorious it got yanked off the stands and tossed from one publisher to another like a hot potato.  The new owner cut the pay rate for covers and so Bolles parted ways with the magazine in late 1931.  But then months later this flashy cover shows up on the stands, and Pep Stories was once again in hot water.  My guess is that it was an older submission which had been rejected for being too risque' even for Pep, which early in its run slapped photos of semi-naked ladies on its covers.

The originals I've seen from this time period are far livelier than what ended up on the cheaply printed covers. Take a look at this original from a 1930 Pep Stories and you'll see what I mean. 

So I took the liberty of doing some digital powerwashing to the the image and the result, in my view, is truer to the actual appearance of the painting than the drab version that appeared in print. Sadly, not only did the publishers of magazine like Pep Stories stint on paying for cover art, they also stinting on printing as well.  Let's hope the actual painting comes out from the dark some day so we can make a side by side comparison.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Nothing special day today, just a great Enoch Bolles cover

As promised, we have yet another rare Bolles for your enjoyment. This was published in 1935 during a period when Enoch was producing a series of especially fine covers for Breezy Stories, one of the classier of the so-called love pulps.  Despite its high circulation, copies of Breezy are very hard to come by these days.  This may have something to do with its slightly tawdry reputation, which has been pinned on our man Bolles.  In an article on the love pulps published in Scribner's Magazine in 1938, the author wrote: "Contrary to the belief of many who never see beyond the covers of Breezy Stories, its appeal is in no sense pornographic."   And on the right you can see the visual evidence the author provided to support his claim. This cover is also one of Bolles' most reproduced images, and it was the last new image Bolles created for the magazine.  Curiously, Scribner's bit the dust just a year later, but Breezy Stories kept on plugging away for another decade until finally closing shop in 1949, ending a publication run that began in 1915. The issue was commemorated by cover art that was described in the magazine as a "new" Enoch Bolles cover girl, and you can read the story of that enigmatic cover here  

Take a closer look at today's feature cover.  Did you spot that tiny signature?  While it bears a cursory resemblance to one of the common variants of his signature, it is uncharacteristically small, and the weight of the lettering is also oddly uniform.  Stranger yet, this exact signature also appears on four other covers published in 1935, but Bolles neither signed nor initialed a single one of the other 40 plus covers he painted for the magazine.  The likely reason for his reticence (there were instances where the art director of other magazines blocked out his signature) was self-preservation. As charming and even innocent much of Bolles' cover art strikes us today, in his times the standards of decency were cinched much tighter and so even the smallest display of skin could provoke politicians eager to take up a cause into a moral frenzy.  This article from a 1940 issue of the New York Herald Tribune describes how both Film Fun and Breezy Stories were rounded up in in one of city's decency drives. The irony here is that by the 40's there was nothing new inside the pages of Film Fun to get worked up over. For several years every issue of he magazine included the usual lineup of "Hollywood hopefuls," features on nameless European showgirls, and Film Fun cover models.  And that was it.  But apparently that was enough because soon the U.S. Postmaster General took on Film Fun and by 1942 it was off the newsstands for good.  

YOWhen you take a look at some of the early issues you can't help but wonder how it ever lasted so long. Here's the first cover I could where Bolles used a lei theme. It was published back in 1925 and as you can obviously see, Bolles thought that the lei was substantial enough to stand in for a swimsuit top.  Even more scandalous, there appears to be the hint of a belly button on our Bolles girl.  Let's hope the original of this painting is around somewhere to provide confirmation of this small but racy detail. 
Never again would Bolles dare add this provocative feature to another cover of Film Fun, not even on his cover for its final issue. 
The final monthly issue of Film Fun, although the special
edition may actually have been published after this.