MARCH 28, 2007

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USAO alum’s ‘Bluesman’ may see silver screen

A photo of USAO alum Rob Vollmar and a image from his comic book.
USAO alumnus Rob Vollmar’s graphic novel, “Bluesman” has been optioned for a live action film by producer Jason Koornick. With the Hollywood producer and contemporary blues singer Keb’ Mo’ backing the show, Vollmar is anticipating silver screen treatment of his Southern blues story.

In a time when comic book superheroes of every form and fashion are hitting movie theatres across the country, Hollywood’s newest antidote may come in the form of “Bluesman,” a gritty, southern guitarist with a song to sing and a story to tell. If writer Rob Vollmar has anything to do with it, his graphic novel’s character will make it all the way to the big screen.

Vollmar, a 1995 graduate from the University of Science and Arts, published “Bluesman” in 2005 with NBM. A year later, movie producer Jason Koornick (“Next,” starring Nicolas Cage and Julianne Moore) contacted Vollmar with news: Koornick’s company had purchased the film option for “Bluesman.”

“It is gratifying that we were able to reach Jason as a reader deeply enough with our work that he is now willing to invest his own time and energy in taking it to a wider audience,” Vollmar said.

Although a screenplay and cast for “Bluesman” are a ways off, one celebrity has already signed on for the project.

Multi-Grammy award-winning blues artist Keb’ Mo’ has promised to provide a soundtrack, should the movie make it to Hollywood. A modern-day bluesman, the Epic Records singer-songwriter-guitarist has sold more than two million albums. Keb’ Mo’ was featured in Martin Scorsese’s 2003 film series, “The Blues,” and has appeared on television shows such as “Touched by an Angel” and “The West Wing.”

“Bluesman” tells the story of guitar man Lem and pianist Ironwood, two Southern blues travelers in search of a place to play and somewhere to sleep in the 1920s. When Ironwood intervenes between an abusive white man and his black mistress, things take a sudden turn for the worse. Lem finds himself alone and on the run from a white mob through the woods of Arkansas.

Vollmar’s intense writing is equaled only by the strikingly detailed illustrations generated by comic partner Pablo G. Callejo. The Madrid-based artist creates black and white drawings reminiscent of antique woodcarvings that are emotive, poignant and altogether complementary to the story’s pace and tone.

Two years after its American release, “Bluesman” recently was nominated for three Glyph Comics Awards. According to the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, the Glyph Awards were created to recognize the best in comics addressing issues regarding people of color. Vollmar was nominated this year for best writer, and his graphic novel was nominated for story of the year and best male character.

Vollmar lives in Norman, where he manages Atomik Pop! and continues writing graphic novels. He currently is collaborating with artist MP Mann on “Inanna’s Tears,” an online proto-historic political tragedy set in ancient Sumer. A print edition will be released in summer, 2007.

“Bluesman” may be Vollmar’s first potential big-screen venture, but it’s not his first work to receive national acclaim. His first graphic novel with illustrator Callejo, “The Castaways,” was released in 2002 by Absence of Ink. The comic was nominated for an Eisner in the Best Single-Issue/One-Shot category.

If the world truly needs a break from the superhero genre, Vollmar’s “Bluesman” may be the cure for the common comic book.

More information about “Bluesman” and Vollmar is available online at http://www.bluesmanproject.com.

Contact: Randy Talley, USAO, (405) 574-1337