Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bluesman Concludes

Bluesman Book Three
By Rob Vollmar & Pablo Callejo

Much tragedy has come out of hope—Hope, Arkansas that it. In the graphic novel Bluesman Book Three, that tragedy is produced by Colonel Bilyeu’s lynch mob, having just murdered the brother of the Bluesman’s Creek companion, Hell-bent on extracting Bilyeu's mindless revenge on the Bluesman, Lem Taylor.

The concluding volume of Bluesman wraps things up in true Blues style, in a mounting crescendo of violence. With Bilyeu on his heels, Taylor seeks out a man in Little Rock who may have the wherewithal to help him, and also possibly offer him immortality through a recording contract. Eventually Taylor is thrown together with the legitimate lawman Sheriff Hal Beasely, who is not one to cast a blind eye on vigilante justice, in an effort to survive the lawless Bilyeu gang. Bluesman climaxes as a story of sacrifice and redemption. However, it ends on a note of real hope, becoming a love letter to those who always live in hope: record collectors.

Vollmar & Callejo convey the Southern gothic quality of the blues, which produced Robert Johnson, Peetie Wheatstraw, and the legend of Stagger Lee. The black and white art is starkly effective, and the writing demonstrates knowledge of the Arkansas music scene of the time. Bluesman Three is a strong conclusion that packs a wallop and ends on a perfect note. Along with McCulloch & Hendrix’s Stagger Lee, it is one of the best musically themed graphic novels in sometime.