121814 caruso2Frank Caruso signs a copy of ‘Outlaw Pete,’ which he illustrated. Below, Caruso added an on-the-spot illustration to each book he autographed. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


121814 caruso3Jerry Ferrara had heard the ballad ‘Outlaw Pete’ at a Bruce Springsteen concert, but he had “never heard of Frank Caruso” until Caruso illustrated the song’s tale in book form.

But there Ferrara was Thursday night, standing in line at Brookdale Community College’s Pen and Quill Bookstore, to meet the illustrator and have his books signed.

“If Springsteen shows up, well, that would be a bonus,” he told redbankgreen.

121814 caruso6Children and adults listened to Caruso talk about his childhood and how he became an artist. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Caruso took his time, first telling a audience of about 50 adults and children about his childhood introduction to drawing.

“I was an altar boy in Wayne,” he said. “My parents sent me to talk to the priest. They were concerned about me. Father Webber told me to draw. He wanted me to do cartoons for his column. He got me started, and told my parents to support the talent,” he said.

Caruso took his time with every adult and child who lined up for an autograph, and there were plenty of children there.

Waiting in line for her turn with her fiance Pete, Laura D’Amico arrived with books that were already signed by Caruso, hoping that Springsteen would show up so she could get the double signature.

“We’ve seen him [Springsteen] in concert at least 10 times,” she said. “We’ve seen him do ‘Outlaw Pete.’ I’m hoping he’ll walk right in and sign this book.”

Someone asked Caruso, “How does it feel to be a rock star?” His response, “I’ll let you know when I become one.”

He talked about the ending of the book and whether there might be a sequel.

“We don’t know if the song is over,” he said. “There is the idea of the Navajo Girl at the end of the book,” but added that the best ballads are left unfinished.

Much to the disappointment of the adults in the crowd, who lingered for a while, Springsteen was a no-show. The children though, were enraptured by the tale and the way Caruso could draw in the books along with his signature. Caruso on his own was enough excitement for them.