Bruce Springsteen has teamed with cartoonist Frank Caruso to create Outlaw Pete, a children’s book based on the music legend’s 2009 song about a bank-robbing baby who “cut his trail of tears across the countryside.”
The song, which appears on the album Working on a Dream, was inspired by the 1950 children’s book Brave Cowboy Bill, which Springsteen’s mother read to him when he was a child. “Outlaw Pete is essentially the story of a man trying to outlive and outrun his sins,” the singer/songwriter said in a statement.
The idea for adapting the song into a book, using Springsteen’s lyrics, originated with Caruso, who in 2012 helped pay homage to the band Wilco in the Popeye comic strip — part of an unusual crossover that saw lead singer Jeff Tweedy as a potential suitor for Olive Oyl in the animated video for “Dawned on Me.”
“When Bruce wrote ‘Outlaw Pete’ he didn’t just write a great song, he created a great character,” said Caruso, who’s also vice president of creative for King Features Syndicate. “The first time I heard the song this book played out in my head. Like Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Dorothy Gale and for me, even Popeye, Outlaw Pete cuts deep into the folklore of our country and weaves its way into the fabric of great American literary characters.”
Outlaw Pete will be released Nov. 4 by Simon & Schuster, which also published Brave Cowboy Bill.