Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

What makes these sailors so happy?

They are having fun. The Film Fun with cover art by Enoch Bolles, a great American illustrator who perfected the pin-up genre. Inner pages, so funny at the moment, will soon be forgotten and lost. The cover, almost for sure, will live on, glued to the sailor's suitcase lid or to the bulkhead above the other sailor's berth, if the Captain won't mind.

Here is the Bolles story, told by David Saunders of pulpartists.com:

Enoch Bolles was born March 3, 1883 in Boardman, Florida. His father was Enoch Bolles, Jr., a chemist in the perfume industry, and his mother, Catherine Keep, came from a family that owned orchards.

The artist's grandfather was also named Enoch Bolles, and lived in Newark, NJ. By 1894,the artist's father and grandfather had both died unexpectedly, so the family moved to Newark, NJ, where the artist met Clara Kaufman, who shared his interest in art. They wed in 1903 and raised eight children in homes in NYC, Tappan, NY, and then settled in Harrington, NJ.

Enoch Bolles studied at National Academy of Design, as well as night classes at the Art Student's League.

His first magazine assignments appeared in 1914 on the covers of joke books, such as Judge and Puck.

Surprisingly, one of the earliest Bolles covers has nothing to do with jokes or pretty girls

He went on to establish a leading reputation for his distinctive cover paintings for spicy magazines, such as Film Fun, Stolen Sweets, Gay Book, Titter, Tattle Tales, Snappy Stories, Bedtime Stories, Breezy Stories, Pep, Gay Parisienne, and New York Nights.

Besides pin up work, Bolles was also a versatile illustrator who created advertising for many products, including Sun-Maid Raisins, Vicks VapoRub, and Zippo lighters.

Yes, the famous Zippo Girl, often (and erroneously) called the Vargas Girl, is Bolles' brainchild!

Due to overwork and malnutrition, Bolles suffered a mental collapse in August 1938, which ended his professional career. When his paranoid condition failed to improve, Bolles entered a New Jersey mental institution, Greystone Hospital, where he remained for most of his life.

He eventually recovered enough to paint magnificent landscapes and portraits of hospital workers, family and friends. He had access to a small art studio in the hospital, from which he even painted several pin-up magazine covers that were sold and published during the 1940s.

Enoch Bolles was finally discharged from Greystone Hospital in 1969 and spent the last seven years of his life at his family home in NJ, where he died of heart failure at age 93 on March 16, 1976.

Text © David Saunders 2009

In 1981, Francis 'Smilby' Wilford Smith (1927-2009) published a book on early pin-up magazines:

Quite naturally, a Bolles painting has been chosen for the cover.

More Enoch Bolles cover art in the album (56 images). You're welcome to browse it - or to enjoy the slideshow:

Find more photos like this on Tarrantry

Images: Enoch Bolles blog

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Comment by lord_k on May 23, 2011 at 12:27pm
I'll drink for that. But first, for your return from World's Fair!
Comment by Tome Wilson on May 23, 2011 at 12:03pm


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