My latest “Adapt This” column for IFC recommends the 2008 graphic novel Bluesman, which is one of those amazing stories that manages to fly under the radar for most readers. It’s a compelling, heart-wrenching book about an African-American blues musician in the late 1920s who’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and must flee across Arkansas.
The book is unique for a number of reasons, including a few I get into in this excerpt from the column:
Bluesman combines the most compelling elements of a period piece set in the deep South in the heat of vicious segregation with a chase story that has its main character fleeing across the state via foot, truck, and train. The story is structured in three sections of four chapters each — like a traditional 12-bar blues song — which also lends itself nicely to a television miniseries format.
Ideally, an adaptation of Bluesman would take the form of a cable miniseries, able to plumb the racially heated depths of that time in American history, and refrain from pulling any punches with the realities of what a black man trekking across the state was likely to encounter. Set the entire tale against a soundtrack of classic blues songs of the era, and you’ll have a road-trip story unlike any other.
You can read the rest of the column at IFC.com.