Bluesman

 BLUJ   (Absence of Ink, 2004, 2006)

™ and © Absence of Ink

Two years after the first volume’s release, NBM followed with the second chapter of Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo’s Bluesman trilogy, set in 1920s Arkansas. A young black musician is the surviving protagonist and is now on the run after bearing witness to multiple murders, one of them his musical partner. Meanwhile, the levelheaded Hempsted County sheriff tries to launch a fair investigation but is hindered by the racist district attorney, who is demanding blood, preferably from a black man—any black man.

While Vollmar’s story disturbingly evokes the troubling feel of the Old South, it doesn’t hold up well as a standalone; little explanation is given regarding past events. Attentive readers can piece things together, but even these efforts are hampered by Callejo’s heavy-handed use of shading and darkness, which makes differentiating the characters difficult. The skin color of black, white, and Native American characters alike is hard to make out, making things more confusing than they need to be.

It’s an enjoyable enough story, to be sure, but one that could have been better with more attention to creative fundamentals.

— Jim Johnson

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 Rob VollmarPablo G. Callejo

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ca. 2006Rob VollmarPablo G. Callejo

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ca. 2006Rob VollmarPablo G. Callejo