November 13, 1897: Frank has a football story. It's probably not his first, but I am not posting these things in any particular order. Contrary to what I said yesterday, the title of this one is a variation on the typical "Frank Merriwell's X", but it's close enough.
The picture I was using to create this costume was not especially good, but I did make one glaring accidental omission (which I literally did not realize until I came to post it): I forgot to put on his shin guards! Football before the turn of the century (and well into the early decades) was pretty brutal business. Players wore padded vests and pants, leather shin guards, and eventually leather shoulder pads (this costume has some shoulder padding). Players did not wear helmets.
I might go back and add the shin guards, or I might just be lazy about it. Not sure why I forgot to put them on.
I have not read many of these stories, so I can't tell you particularly what this issue is about, but I am fairly confident Frank wins the day honestly despite some unsportsmanlike effort from his opposition.
I made Frank in the same watercolor way as my other dolls, though I had trouble with his face (because of the style of the time ~ illustrators who drew him gave him the same bland profile that everyone wore in pictures). I did a lot of Photo-shopping after he was painted because my rendition had puppy dog eyes and too weak of a chin. He looks better now.
I put him in a pair of wrestling "shorts". These were typically worn with tights (but not always) and probably more of a 20th century thing, but I was loathe to put him in period-appropriate underwear.
I'm limiting his clothing to items he wears on the covers of Tip Top Weekly (one of the first nickel weeklies to go full color on the "wraps" ~ a big deal in 1896). Also, I am limiting his wardrobe (aside from the shorts) to items depicted between 1896 and 1900 in order to keep him within the scope of this blog. So expect to see some very early sports uniforms (some might even surprise you), and other "Gay '90s" apparel.
Lastly, I used the logo from the weekly as his name on the base of the doll. Issues were titled "Frank Merriwell's [something or other]; or, (and then an alternate, more descriptive title)". So I adopted that format for the titles of these blog posts.
When I have posted all the pieces, I will "plate" these for easy print-quality downloading. In the meantime, click on the images for larger versions and enjoy!
Gilbert Patten created Frank Merriwell in 1896 for Street & Smith publishers under the pseudonym Burt L. Standish (misprinted here on the first issue shown at right as "Burr"). Patten had no way of knowing then that he would spend the next 16 years (and probably more than 13 million words) writing Frank Merriwell's adventures (25-30 thousand words every single week!).
As a commodity, Frank Merriwell was both popular and lucrative! Even as the era of the nickel weekly waned, Frank found audiences in radio and other media. He remained popular into the 1930s when cinema and comic books killed him once and for all.
Frank as a character is pretty flat, I think: he's plucky, cheerful, and athletic with no vices whatsoever. Hard to believe this goody-two-shoes could interest young readers, but he was the "it" entertainment of his day (and remember this is prior to the movies, so everything is relative). Still, he was something entirely new in a medium where characters like Buffalo Bill and Jesse James had dominated for decades. Most likely his super-human athletic ability attracted an audience (there was no sport at which he could be fairly bested ~ definitely a precursor to the ideal all-American superheroes who would dominate comic books later), but maybe even more than that, he was someone that young readers could actually relate to. He went to school, he got into fights, and sure, he had crazy globe-trotting adventures (and was attacked by too many wild animals to enumerate [see cover above]), but at the end of the day he was just a nice all-American fella.
Anyway, enough with the history lesson.
The point is, last weekend I was trying to come up with something for the Titanic commemoration (since it was on TV and in the news and whatnot), but I felt like 1912 was a bit of a stretch for "19th Century Paper Dolls" and, besides, I don't actually care for the fashions of that era. But I figured maybe I could do something turn-of-the-centuryish and that would be kind of close. I had, sitting on my desk at that time, an issue of Tip Top Weekly, and I thought: Oh why not, Frank's certainly got no dearth of sports uniforms depicted on the covers.
So all this week I will be posting pieces of Frank and Frank's clothing. He had two girlfriends during the run of the series (one of whom he eventually married), but I am not sure I will be making him any friends.
Reap the Wild Wind
was an 1942 action flick starring Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard (with a young John Wayne and Susan Hayward!). It's basically a romance about Clipper salvage in Key West the 1840s (an interesting and unusual subject!). In 1973, Marilyn Henry created this lovely paper doll set based on the film. I came across this on eBay and would love to bid on it, but I am sure it will go too dear for what I would be willing to pay. It's a nice set of the sort that you could color yourself (color printing was just too expensive 40 years ago unless you were a big publisher). It nonetheless has a spot color cover (presumably heavier stock), so the characters have some tints.
My absolute favorite is the inclusion of the octopus (definitely a stand-out character in the film). The film, of course is rather silly and the costumes are not especially period-appropriate (this was a low-budget film made during WWII, which adds to its overall "cheap" look and feel ~ but hey, they did pretty good with what they had!
There are four pages of clothing in the set, but I only have some rough images of two of the four (below).
The usual apologies for my absence lately. I hope to maybe post something new of my own soon.
In this painting by Constantin Hansen
from 1837, we see a bunch of Danish artists lounging around in an apartment in Rome. Love the variety of fabrics and colors for their vest and trousers, love the long pipes, the tall hats, the delicate tea cups and saucers, and the dog hanging out on the chair while the men are lounging on the floor. Was looking for pictures of boy's clothing from this period and came across this by happy accident, so I thought I would share. I was hoping to post something doll-like today, but alas, the evening is getting away from me, so it may have to wait. Sorry!Click on the pictures to see the details ~ this is a great portrait of gentlemen at their leisure from a period when portraiture was otherwise generally still pretty stuffy and formal.
Be sure to click on the image to see the details on this; it's fabulous! This was part of a larger sheet (of which I will maybe share more later) that recently sold on eBay for about $100. The seller identified it as a McLoughlin, but something about the colors tells me it's foreign, perhaps. There's no marking on the sheet and it's reminiscent of sheets I've seen produced in Germany, but then again, I am no expert in these things ~ it's merely a hunch. I have a resource book that might identify it. When I am not feeling so lazy, maybe I will look it up.
And yes, laziness reigns here at Chez Boots. I am still thinking about what I want to do about my poor dolls. I keep thinking lightning will strike, but it hasn't. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy these random offerings.
Today, just a lovely fashion plate from the February 1862 edition of Le Follet.
I absolutely adore the purple gown with the black sleeves. It looks deliciously sumptuous! Click on the image to see the details better. I like the black gown too, but the copper or brown underskirt seems strange to me (though it does match the muff).
Winter styles have always appealed to me more than other seasons.
And the girl's matching blue booties are also very sweet.
Totally awesome 1841 set of paper dolls on auction through Theriault's
. Described as "very rare" with a title: Mythologie Pour La Jeunesse
. This set was made in Vienna by H.F. Muller. It includes two dolls (male and female), and 14 stunning costumes representing various Greek and Roman deities. The auction site describes the folio as beautifully marbled with applique on the "mythologie" scroll. This set was intended to be fun and educational and came with a "72 page book, written in both German and French, detailing the writer's purpose: to teach mythology to his children by means of paper dolls with changeable costumes that represent the features of various Greek or Roman Gods."Don't know how much something like this will go for at auction, but it being such a lovely complete set in such nice condition
, I'm sure it will go dear!
Amazing colors! Wish we could better see the male doll ~ his little head is peeking out above the short yellow toga roughly in the middle at the bottom. Click the image to see more detail!
Volume 26 didn't have much to offer for April, so we're leaping here from the end of March to the beginning of May. The sorta militaristic theme of the Bank Holiday costume is common in this series (it's the third example of this style I have posted already!), but I love how this one has a keg with it. The May costume is just simple, floral, and fun ~ love both the hat and the patterned stockings. Some of these costumes are rather risque for the period (short skirts and a lot of leg!).
I am going to focus on these Judy costumes and on sharing my rather extensive collection of other artists' work for a spell while I rethink what to do with the Reconstruction dolls. I do love the style of these Judy dolls and her clothes are fun to make because I can produce them fairly quick and I am not agonizing over colors (you can do that with your own markers, pencils, etc.). Click the image to download the .pdf, and select "Judy" from the categories on the left if you need to find the original doll again. Have fun!
The worst part of not having a scanner for all those weeks and falling into a funk is that I spent a lot of time thinking. This is an unfortunate business, of course, because thinking invariably leads to re-thinking, and subsequently revising. I love my water color paper dolls, but they give me anxiety for whatever reason. I seem to approach working on them with dread, which is the opposite of what making paper dolls should mean to me (and what it has always been in the past: a contemplative de-stressor). So when the think you love causes more stress than what it's supposed to alleviate, it's definitely time to reevaluate it.
Part of what causes so much stress is that it feels so time-consuming (even though it's really not ~ I can paint a page in under two hours; under one if it's not terribly complex). So even though it takes as long as it takes, it feels long and that's another good indicator that I'm not enjoying it as I should be.
I drew the dolls above over the last week; five last weekend and five today. I don't doubt I could produce clothing for all of them over the next two days (and then some). It would basically mean getting very well ahead of the last effort, which has taken me almost six months, in a matter of weeks.
I computer colored these because I have not decided whether to color them, how the color them, or leave them black & white. I do like the option of letting other people color them, so the original artwork is all simple ink.
I am shy here of a few characters I had previously painted (like Razi-el, Henry and Buster), but have added Eulalia and Peg & John Stewart Preston. You can click the image and see them a little larger, but since I have not decided what to do with them, I'm not making them the official choice until I can get some perspective.
If I stick with these, I can produce work quickly, which ostensibly means I can post more. Doesn't that sound like a good deal?
I dunno. Most days I just want to retreat into a corner.