The Beatles in Comics!
Review by KC Carlson
People tend to forget that the Beatles (as a group) were only together for 10 years and only recorded together for eight. But once they got started, they composed and recorded more than 200 songs, and at least 12 albums, throughout the 1960s. (The album count is a little dicey, since many of their albums in England differed from their albums in America in both content and number of songs.)
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were the main and most successful Beatles. In the early years, there were a few proto-Beatles (like Pete Best) who added a bit of both myth and mystery, but generally, if you’re talking about the Beatles, you’re talking about those four.
And they’re also the main characters in an entertaining new multi-format, 252-page history of the band called The Beatles in Comics! by Michels Mabel, published by NBM. It covers the pre-Beatles years of the late 1950s/early 1960s where the Beatles (under various names like the Quarrymen) learned their craft and how to entertain people in both England and Germany (where they worked and played for months at a time). Lots of their pre-fame photographs are reproduced, interestingly colorized (the originals from this time are all B&W), but much of their story here is told in traditional comic book-style page-by-page continuity.
Chapters like “The Man Who Refused to Sign the Beatles”, “George Martin’s Wager”, “The Queen’s Rebels”, “John’s Opinion”, and, of course, “Paul Is Dead” keep the storytelling moving at a very rapid pace. The book is a fun (and quick) read, with the format seemingly changing every 6 to 10 pages, which also helps keep interest high. Over 20 artists contributed to the book.
Humor is also a big part of the book, especially in the chapters that incorporate standard comic book storytelling. In the Beatles’ early concert years, where the girls screamed from start to finish (especially in America), the comic book style-pages illustrating this are filled with panels with nothing but “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” in the background.
A chapter on Beatles trivia (some of which even I didn’t know!) called “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” closes the book. Here you can find out all about “Stuck Inside of Lexicon with the Roget’s Thesaurus Blues”, which sadly was never recorded.
Even if you’re not obsessed by the Beatles, there’s plenty here to catch your eye. And you don’t even need to know that much about the Beatles, because the book will be more than happy to enlighten you. Hello, Goodbye!