Outlaw Pete Caruso“Outlaw Pete” illustrator Frank Caruso, at right with Bruce Springsteen in a recent “Daily Show” appearance, brings their book to the Brookdale Community College campus Thursday.

Its author flat-out declares that it’s not technically a child’s bedtime story, even if its many inspirations include the “Brave Cowboy Bill” tales he used to hear as a young child. He’s also forthcoming about the notion that he “didn’t have much to do with it,” although he’s dutifully promoted the project in venues that range from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to the Times Book Review.

Still, the fact remains that the new book Outlaw Pete takes its title and its text from Bruce Springsteen’s song of that name, a gunslinger epic that opened his 2009 long-player Working on a Dream. As illuminated by artist Frank Caruso, the eight-minute song becomes an illustrated fable of what Springsteen describes as “a man trying to outlive and outlast his sins.” And on Thursday, December 18, the artist comes to the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College for a signing event at the school’s Student Life Center building.

Scheduled to begin at 7 pm at the SLC’s Scroll and Pen Bookstore, the personal appearance offers a glimpse into the creative process of a Jersey-bred talent, one whose many under-the-radar credits include stints drawing the King Features characters Popeye and Betty Boop; and the young-reader Shushybye series; and the grim graphic novel Heart Transplant, a collaboration with crime novelist and child protection advocate Andrew Vachss.

Now, Caruso has parlayed an obsession with the Springsteen song into a Boss-blessed reality. Dealing in images that start out playful, and become progressively edgier as Springsteen’s story nears its mythically bloody conclusion, Caruso keeps a stylistic hand planted firmly in a cartoony vibe that evokes everything from those Max Fleischer inkwell animations, to the legendary underground wiz Vaughn Bode.

Signing copies of Outlaw Pete will be available for purchase at the event, and additional information can be had by emailing