Interview with Frank Bolle
By Bruce Kenfield
Frank Bolle is a native of New York City. After graduating from the High School of Music and Art in 1942, Frank entered the Army Air Corps. He was stationed on Okinawa when the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. After the war, he graduated from Pratt Institute with honors. Bolle has illustrated for comics series like: Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Dr. Solar, Prince Valiant, The Heart of Juliet Jones and Winnie Winkle. Under the Best Seller Showcase, 1975-77 (Universal Press Syndicate), Bolle illustrated Clive Cussler’s Raise The Titanic!, Lawrence Sanders’ The Second Deadly Sin, Robert Ludlum’s The Chancellor Manuscript, and Donald J. Sobol’s “Encyclopedia Brown” 1976-81; “Boy’s Life” 77-96; “Winnie Winkle” 1982-96; “Tarzan” 1982; “Juliet Jones” 1984-99; “Annie” (lettered) 1986-94; “Apartment 3-G” 1999-present. His work can also be found in over 600 comic books. He has also illustrated in other mediums including award winning watercolors, novels, and magazines. Currently, Bolle is serving his 7th year as president of the Connecticut Classic Arts and is a member of the National Cartoonists Society. Frank and his wife Lori live in Connecticut.
CCCS: Frank, can you tell us when and where were you born?
Bolle: June 24, 1924 in New York City.
CCCS: What was your education and training to become an illustrator?
Bolle: I went to the High School of Music and Art, a special high school in N.Y.C. for students talented in either music or art. It was a long day, a regular high school day plus one hour of art or music per day. After graduating from High School in 1942, I was able to squeeze in 6 months at Pratt Institute (an art, architecture, and engineering collage) before being inducted into the armed forces at age 18. After the war, I went back to Pratt Institute studying painting and illustration. Trying to make up for the three lost, I worked on comic books (westerns, science fiction, detective mysteries, historical and romance stories) by day, and went to school at night.
CCCS: How did you get the job to illustrate the 1977 Raise The Titanic comic strip?
Bolle: Elliot Caplin, Al Capp’s brother an editor and writer knew my work in comics. He called me with the bestseller idea. He wanted realistic and attractive illustrations.
CCCS: What happened to your original illustrations of the Raise The Titanic comic strip?
Bolle: I only have one page. The rest, most likely, were destroyed by the printers.
CCCS: How long did it take you to complete the Raise The Titanic comic strip?
Bolle: If the story appeared in the papers for 8 weeks (daily and Sunday) it took 8 weeks with an 8-week head start for production. (engraving, color, printing and mailing to the papers around the country)
CCCS: Who wrote the story line?
Frank: I believe Elliot broke down the story script from the book.
CCCS: Can you describe for us what a script is like and how you make it work?
Bolle: The script is written like a play. The dialogue goes in the balloons and a description or what the character is doing-phoning, smiling, entering, or leaving, who is talking, etc. The caption, in a separate box if necessary, tells when it’s happening or fills in important information not in the dialogue.
CCCS: Did you do the lettering in addition to the illustration?
Bolle: I did my own lettering, mainly to place the dialogue balloons where I wanted to suit the composition of the drawing in the panel.
CCCS: Did you do the coloring work in the Sunday editions?
Bolle: I would color a tissue overlay or make a Xerox copy and color it with watercolors to guide the color engravers and printers.
CCCS: Tell us about your current projects.
Bolle: Currently I’m working on “Apartment 3-G” for King Features Syndicate. “Apt 3-G” is a soap opera about 3 young women sharing an apartment. LuAnn is a schoolteacher, Tommie is a nurse, Margo is a publicity agent-and I make them all beautiful.
CCCS: Thank for helping us with the interview Frank, we’ll keep in touch.
*NOTE* Frank Bolle is currently working on the CCCS “Bathtub Project” and will be also creating our “Action Series” when his first project is complete.