cover image The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story

Vivek Tiwary and Andrew C. Robinson, with Kyle Baker. Dark Horse, $17.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-61655-256-5

Presenting a new facet of Beatles biography is a challenge. Tiwary and Robinson break new ground by spotlighting the Beatles’ discoverer and manager, Brian Epstein, telling his story in graphic novel form. The book hits all the familiar high points—the first #1 single, appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, John’s controversial “more popular than Jesus” quip, etc.—but it doesn’t feel like a check-off-the-boxes retelling. The focus on Epstein and his hidden homosexuality (in that era, it was a criminal offense in Britain) gives the pop history some weight. Though in some places the book is fictionalized and highly stylized, the juxtaposition of Epstein’s stewardship of the mop-top quartet with flashbacks to his past life illuminates his innate loneliness, even in the face of fame and fortune. Robinson and Baker’s artwork is colorful and fluid, and it avoids looking like copies of publicity stills (a cliché of biographical comics), with rich, deep color palettes capturing the mod energy of the ’60s. Purists will quibble about minor gaffes, but there’s nothing to find fault with here—aside from the much-trodden road of the subject material. (Nov.)