Bud Plant on Mahlon Blaine’s Blooming Bally Bloody Book

News and Notes

Mahlon’s Blaine’s Blooming Bally Bloody Book The Outlandish Art of Mahlon Blaine One-Eyed Visionary
The Outlandish Art of Mahlon Blaine One-Eyed Visionary
Mahlon’s Blaine’s Blooming Bally Bloody Book by Roland Trenary

I asked the publisher about the overlap or lack of overlap in the 100+ pictures by Blaine which appear in this latest book about the artist, whose career actually peaked around 1925-30, but who went on to do countless highly erotic pieces as well as Edgar Rice Burroughs novels right into the 1960s! Like Rockwell Kent and similar outspoken and eccentric artists, he went his own way and never looked back…

“There are 656 images in Brian’s book [The Outlandish Art of Mahlon Blaine, OUMB, $39.95]. Of those, 60 are duplicated and about 400 additional unique images are in my One-Eyed Visionary[MAHB. $25] (460 total), and about 50 of the 120 images in Blooming Bloody can also be found in Brian’s and my earlier books (meaning about 70 are unique to Blooming).” –Roland Trenary

All this said, the real meat here is the novel itself, a part-fact, part-imagined look at the career of this amazing illustrator. I finished reading this just recently. It was fun and I enjoyed it (things can sit around my place waiting for me to finish reading them for years, so this is a good reflection on the contents).

This “unauthorized autobiography” based on Blaine’s notes, was written by Trenary, who owns the finest collection of Blaine original art and published work in private hands. This new book includes over 100 Blaine illustrations, over half of which were previously unpublished.

But…how much is fabrication, how much fact? I’m not sure quite how to describe this…was there any manuscript or autobiographical notes at all, or is this all based on facts that Trenary has made into stories, as Mahlon himself might have done? For instance, did Blaine really introduce Steinbeck to Woody Guthrie, and Woody to Dylan? Here is Trenary’s answer to my question:

“These events might well have occurred, much as they are described. Certainly Blaine knew, indeed called friends, John Steinbeck, John Carradine, Dunninger (the mentalist), Tina Modotti, etc. But it’s also documented that Blaine was known to “stretch the truth” shall we say, for publicity, and admitted to it. One never knows the proportion of reality when confronted with his words (whether I wrote them or he did). His images were always meant to amuse, entertain and intrigue. So too his own story, I hope.” -Roland

~Bud

Here is the original post from April 3, 2015.

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