Back from the wilds of California still in one piece with a short post on the wild world of pin-up art. I didn't get a chance to go gumshoe for scan targets in San Francisco like I'd hoped, but all destinations and points inbetween were enjoyable.
Today, a series of covers that quickly demonstrates the common practices of swiping, re-using, pirating, and re-re-using a magazine cover painting. In picking a starting point on a cover motif or swipe line, you're being presumptuous to assume you've got the actual starting point. Pin-up artists riffed, borrowed, straight up traced from other's paintings as well as their own. Also, an old or not so old painting could be adapted or painted over for a new deadline. Some "swiping" is riffing on ideas - the artists at La Vie Parisienne had a great interplay where they'd sort of do their own versions of another artist's design - and there's plenty of this done well in American pin-ups, too. Other times these gents might go to the light box and pretty much jack somebody else's cover completely.
But we'll start this series with an Enoch Bolles Film Fun cover. It's usually not a good idea to try and copy a Bolles, but he was certainly often-imitated. Bolles himself was no stranger to riffing on pin-up themes and images from popular culture, but he usually does well to make a painting uniquely his, something his imitators don't always do.
A falling girl, Film Fun August 1936, Enoch Bolles.
It's not a great Bolles by a long shot, but it does have a lot going for it. The look of surprise in her eye is palpable, and the spill is kinetic, limbs and fingers pointed in every direction. Added to the shock is the bit of yellow panty on display. Oh, Enoch, you naughty boy, you.
Next, the trail gets a little muddier. I'm gonna go ahead and list the date on this one, because I've seen it listed a couple of times at credible spots, but as with many dates on pulp covers, you have to take it with a grain of salt.
From a reprint title that packaged rebound Saucy Movie Tales and Saucy Detective, Two-Book Stories Winter 1936, Peter Driben. I'd note the images I share of the smaller variety are almost all pulled off eBay or thumbnail indexes, will try to give credit when I can for the images.
So, Peter Driben, an artist whose work ranges from iconic to not so, was super prolific. I'm not fading any artist necessarily by posting a swipe, sometimes you gotta bang that cover out and pay the bills, you know what I'm saying? The hand is covered by a box, because those fingers are hard 😁 I'm not even 100% sure it's all Driben.
Here it is again, a much cleaner take on an Ultem Magazine. I feel like this one is either a more refined re-do of the issue above and came first, as it was on a bit higher end magazine. High Heel Magazine December 1937, Peter Driben.
This lass has pulled the cord on a parachute and has goggles and lime green undies. A blatant swipe but not shabby.
The next two are undoubtedly UK knockoffs. Sometimes American pulps (likely returned as unsold) would have new covers put on in a repackaging like the Two Book above or be show up across the sea often with horribly butchered versions of the corresponding American cover perpetrated by UK edition pirate artists. A good way to tell the UK version besides a 35 cent or 50 cent price tag is by the muddy poorly copied covers. I see collectors spend a lot on some of these issues and kind of scratch my head, but who am I to judge. Whether piracy was at play or some cross-ocean business dealings were at work seems to vary. Maybe if I ever decipher a little more on all that I'll do a post on a pirate issue.
Tattle Tales v02nxx probable UK edition maybe 1938
French Stories 193x-10 cover Driben (probably 38-39)
But here's the kicker, Driben again, this time in 1952. Driben did some incredible work (though maybe not this one lol) on this era of Harrison mag. Beauty Parade, January 1952.
Still swiping the Bolles, but with a lot more detail. Wild he went back so much later, eh?