Tarzan – the beauty of the adventure

The Legend of Tarzan, 2016

Upon second viewing of this movie, I was struck with the subtle underlying tone which, surfacing from time to time throughout, underpinned the whole affair. The richness of the storytelling was not sacrificed for just adventure nor the mere thrill of gravity-defiance. Here is the love of one’s personal history, fellow man, and life-partner, gathered within a heady mix of historically inspired plot…what more could one ask for? Oh yes, to be exquisitely faithful to the originator of the iconic literary Tarzan: Edgar Rice Burroughs. His was a Tarzan of substance, complexity, and depth that had been essentially ignored through 98 years of celluloid. No wonder audiences have managed to confound critics’ prognostications and propel this movie for ten days so far (and perhaps many more) beyond industry expectations. It gives a person such as myself some hope, some reassurance, and some faith in both regular people (who will pay good money for worthwhile entertainment) as well as the elite few who are monetarily enabled to produce such a product. My heart is warmed.

Dr. Scheiner reviews Mahlon Blaine ~ One-Eyed Visionary

Mahlon Blaine * One-Eyed Visionary library version
Mahlon Blaine * One-Eyed Visionary by Roland Trenary


Amazon prohibited Dr. Scheiner posting his review, but here it is:

Roland Trenary’s self published “Mahlon Blaine ~ One-Eyed
Visionary” is a magnificent achievement, and to date the
definitive biography of the sadly forgotten pastiche artist
Mahlon Blaine. When first approached by Roland, it seems 40
years ago, many of us believed Blaine had been born in
Canada, married an American Indian Princess, lost his eye to
Malay pirates, and we doubted his tales of working in
Hollywood. Roland has gathered the visual evidence for the
true story, in an amazing presentation of personal letters
and photos few would have thought would have survived, and
he gives a social insight into little known aspects of early
Hollywood behind the scenes. The check list of books is an
invaluable guide for any one who wants to collect Blaine. It
is wonderful to see here so much never before published
Blaine art work, and hopefully this book will flush into the
market place many privately done Blaine original art items
which have not been publicly seen since their creation. The
art reproduced in Trenary’s book helps support Blaine’s
frequent boast that he could imitate any artist and had
dozens of his paintings hanging in major US museums, all
attributed to “name” artists. (I was recently offered a
George Grosz color drawing that was actually a Blaine
imitation of a Vizet book illustration, and which had been
given to Grosz and received the Grosz estate stamp when it
was found in the deceased Grosz’s home)!
There is still much to be published about Mahlon Blaine,
especially in the area of his erotic art and mechanicals.
Hopefully Roland Trenary will turn his considerable talents
to this project.
Five stars for certain.
C.J. Scheiner, M.D., Ph.D.

Officially ranked #1 on Amazon bestsellers! True.

That’s right. Read it here:

MB5 rank #1 Dec18 Amazon

I held this position for one day – Dec 18th.

By the 19th, I had dropped to #2.

MB5 rank #2 Dec19

For the three days following, I held on to 3rd place.

I am awaiting some more reviews to post on Amazon.

Imagine! Roland Trenary a number one bestselling author of a novel. Mahlon Blaine would be proud, or at least astonished. Now, if only the adult coloring book, Sindbad, would click in…

Rupert Schmitt, r.i.p.


…consequently, I didn’t know Rupert very well. He lived full-time in Ajo Arizona, and I wintered there three months at a time.

I’ve read small sections of four books he’d either published already, or was planning on publishing. In 2011 we each had indicated our commitment to helping the other, and he’d read some of my stuff too. Both of us being self-published, any mutual help was appreciated.

About six years before that I’d first observed Rupert at the Ajo Vaudeville Show, from a distance, through a doorway and across the dim-lit heads of a hundred people, as he performed on a bright stage. One of his poems about a wolf. He wore an elaborate wolfish headdress or mask, self-made, as he howled and pranced about the stage in exaggerated low-humor. At least that was my impression from the audience reaction, but being so far removed from the action I really didn’t know what was going on.

I think that poem was from his first book, The Interview.

A year later he was facilitating a writers group at the Ajo library and I participated, as a songwriter. (No prose composition yet for me.) He was kind, and caring, and very supportive of everyone and their verbose creations.

His second book, a large novel titled The Mad Professor, was published sometime after that, and one year I bumped into him as he was trying to make an audio book out of it. Turns out, he had software that I could help him with, so I let him take over my brain, house and hardware one day as he recorded the Australian diction of Esperanza Stein as she read the bulk of the story into a microphone.

The following year, as he began writing his autobiographical book The Stained Glass Family, we traded more manuscripts and discussed self-publishing pitfalls. We sought triumphs, but alas, had not attained them.

Together we attended the Tucson Book Festival twice, and commiserated while seeking elusive success, along with 30,000 other individuals. I think he just wanted to get his story out there. His story.

And he kept coming up with any number of reasons that any number of niche groups of readers should be interested enough to buy his next book. I wasn’t about to talk him out of those dreams ­ maybe they could come true.

He eventually bought my 16-year-old car, a Saturn station wagon, to have a reliable vehicle for his frequent trips to the VA Hospital in Tucson. Within a year it had run low enough on oil to blow the engine, but he never held a grudge.

Meanwhile, Rupert continued to battle his various health problems, including lymphoma of some sort. He’d be down pretty far, then bounce back and be quite functional and productive, rinse, repeat. Our conversations remained upbeat, and he would always share outlandishly wry commentary on his variable condition as well as his realistic prospects.

Until one day he finally had no more prospects. Eighty-one, they said. That was about a year ago.

He was already an old fellow when we’d first met, and that’s my permanent mind’s eye view. But sometimes one wishes one’s myopia could be cured, or expanded. Perhaps, with a closer reading of his books, his story, I’ll get there.

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


Here is the original post from April 3, 2015.

Bohemia, Buttera, Blaine. News that matters.

Bohemia magazine 9:15:19006

Once or maybe twice each twelve months a special event happens. I have no control over the timing, but I remain vigilant in anticipation, and have for about forty years in a row.


This year two events happened simultaneously, in February. (Does this mean that there’ll be a drought over the next ten months? I hope not. No one knows, but I must always remain prepared for that eventuality.)


Year 2015’s first was the new internet listing of a old copy of the book The Girl With The Golden Eyes, illustrated by F. T. Buttera. This 1930 edition was apparently part of a more-or-less simultaneous release of several titles (based on their matching bindings and dust jackets) from the little New York publisher Williams Belasco and Meyer.


I was long familiar with their three 1930 titles which had interior illustrations by Mahlon Blaine (The Temptation of St. Anthony, Candide, and A Sentimental Journey). And noted his illustrations on the front of their textured gilt dust jackets. All in my Blaine book collection.


Two years ago I had first become aware of that 1930 Girl edition, but the “new” jacket drawing (although uncredited) was not by Buttera, but Blaine – a big surprise. That particular bookseller’s sale price of $150.00 was also a surprise, and beyond my budget.


Ever since then I had been searching for a cheaper copy, and in February found one – in Canada. I phoned the gentleman up north, verified the rare jacket, and purchased same. His price (plus shipping) still sounded expensive, but it turned out that he had been talking Loons, so the Dollar translation was a pleasant surprise on my Visa bill.


He packed the item most excellently, attached all the export documents, and it arrived while I was out of town. As soon as I returned, it went on the shelf next to the other three titles. Hooray, and cross that off my list.


But year 2015’s second event was even more exciting: the NEW earliest Blaine appearance in print. It pushed back by five months the previous holder of the title, a February 1917 copy of the San Francisco magazine BOHEMIA.


This 1916, September 15th BOHEMIA had six little Blaine drawings, and one full-page Blaine cartoon, all credited. Amazing.


Yes, I continue to comb through old newspaper microfilm and internet listings for both old and new discoveries. But after four decades of this, it’s a double-edged dilemma. How much more could be out there? And how far back might we go to find it?


This June 16th marked 121 years since MB’s arrival on this earth. Carry on.

Bloomsday and the Blooming Bally Bloody Book illustrator

sm MB Ketch behind obscenes001_300dpibw


Celebrating the works of James Joyce and Mahlon Blaine on the same day? It makes a whole lot of sense.

I’m no Joyce scholar. I’ve barely looked at Ulysses, and only read Dubliners in college. But no one can escape the impact and import of his literary creations, it seems. Where would 20th Century literature be without Leopold Bloom?

Mahlon Blaine, on the other hand… I know a thing or two about him.

For instance, he celebrated his 10th birthday on June 16, 1904.

That’s the same day James Joyce and his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, had their first outing (whereupon they reportedly walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend).

Joyce set the events of his novel Ulysses on that very day, June 16, 1904.

Coincidence? I think not.

The troubles that Joyce’s literary works encountered at the hands of censors? They were arguably of a larger nature than Blaine’s suppression troubles. Yet John Sumner, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, prosecuted the Little Review for its publication of a portion of Joyce’s novel, and a few years later also seized and burned most of the copies of Jack Ketch the Hangman, a little satirical newspaper full of Blaine pen-and-ink illustrations.

A publisher or two of Blaine’s works was known to have spent time in the penitentiary for legal transgressions. Blaine himself apparently never spent time in the slammer for impropriety – arguing that his “Victoria’s Cross medal” could never be defiled by being placed behind bars. The dubious declaration may have worked its magic on more than one occasion.

For instance, it would have been a shame had his masterpiece portfolio, Venus Sardonica, met its fate in the furnaces under Police headquarters. Even Gershon Legman declared its publication the high point of 20th Century eroticism. That’s if you appreciate exquisite drawing and sly humor.

Always with the humor.

So, Happy Birthday Mr. Blaine, and Happy Bloomsday Mr. Joyce. What a two-fer!

sm MB Ketch behind obscenes001_300dpibw