Monday, January 13, 2014

The Fifth Beatle The Brian Epstein Story

The Beatles have always been in my life thanks to my parents constantly playing their music. With my uncles' birthday coming up I mentioned an ad I saw for this to my dad. I was curious and got my hands on a copy to read through.


While this does show the Beatles make no mistake that this is always Brians' story. Throughout it he's shown as a lonely but inspirational person that sees something special in the boys from Liverpool. What he adds to the group and how much he wants them to reach their full potential brings a energy to the book that keeps it running from beginning to end. Brians' struggles with his personal life comes at odds with his ambitions making this a odd mixture of tragic and uplifting. While I always had some scope of the history of the band I admit I wasn't so well versed with their manager. What I learned filled the blanks on the hows and whys of their success. For example Mr. Epstein was a fashion designer and used those skills to create a look for the band. I also didn't know about the laws in the UK. at the time which made things horrible for homosexuals back then. After some close calls it gets so bad that Brians' scared to be himself which leads to a ill fated affair in the states that has horrible conquences.

John Lennon has the biggest role, likely because he's the leader/visionary of the band but he's the closest to Brian at least at the start. They hang out, Brian become godfather of Julian (implied never fully confirmed in story) and there's a one sided attraction. But over time this bond fades and as things get bad even he has to admit John isn't there anymore. This is the one thing I think could have been done a little better at least in terms with Paul suddenly becoming the one he thinks is the dependable go to guy. While Paul does seem to show the most concern towards the end the turn isn't very developed in the story. It's believable given Paul reaching out to Julian via his song
"Hey Jude" that he's the one that's the most empathic but not so much here simply because not much of it is shown. (*1) According to the writer Vivek J. Tiwary many of the events depicted in the graphic novel did happen although some were done with a little creative license.

The art is incredible and conveys so much with each image. Each Beatle and indeed all characters including those in the background are very recognizable. A much needed change of pace and lively interpretation that really adds to the story. As far as the timeframe goes I was expecting dated slang that I'd be struggling with and there was none in sight. I only had one misunderstanding with Brian referring to a man a daddy assuming it was short for daddy-o. When it was in fact his father but I blame that on reading reprints of Stan Lees' 60's X-Men and Spider-Man. His Mary Jane in particular was pretty "far out."

As for Eppys' boys their likable although there are hints of their falling out. Their introduction and most of their appearances has plenty of banter that's sure to bring a smile. At heart this is a story about wanting to belong and sharing the message of the Beatles with others while battling the demons of the prices that come with fame. If you love the Beatles you should like this and really I think this would make an amazing movie. In fact I often could see it as one while I was reading. I'm glad I read it and saw a different point of view. It wasn't the biography comic I was fearing, which usually come off as a Wikipedia article with pictures, and was a solid read.

*1 Granted Brian seems to think this near the end but it seems to come out of nowhere more as a nod to things to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment