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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Reader's Diary #2191- Vivek J. Tiwary (writer), Andrew C. Robinson (artist): The Fifth Beatle

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story
is an excellent graphic biography of the famed Beatles manager written by Vivek J. Tiwary with art by Andrew C. Robinson and with Kyle Baker taking on their ill-fated trip to the Philipines.

While there have been many people nominated as the supposed 5th Beatle, Epstein was the only one that Paul McCartney suggested could really wear that title. No doubt he was instrumental in their success. But while I've heard much about the Fab Four, I can't say that I knew much about this man and indeed Tiwary makes the case that he was a fascinating fellow. 

Notably, he was gay at a time when the world was even more unaccepting of gay people than it is today. This would result in a lot of anguish for Epstein, threatening his career, mental health, and life itself. You can sense that success of the Beatles was one of the bright spots that he needed as much as they needed him.

The focus here is absolutely on Epstein, not the Beatles themselves, sometimes to a fault. While Tiwary acknowledges, for instance, the absence of Pete Best in the book it nonetheless jumped out at me, as it would with most people with just a bit of knowledge of Beatles history and honestly, could have been covered with a panel or two without distracting from Epstein's story more than the omission did. 

Another minor issue is the shoehorning of a matador analogy. Perhaps Epstein was obsessed with matadors, maybe even fancied himself as one, but the constant references here seem strange and poorly fitting.

However, the art is gorgeous. It has really strong caricatures reminiscent of Mort Drucker's work for MAD Magazine (I thought I noticed this going through and was pleased to note in an essay by Robinson at the end that Drucker was an influence) which are coloured stunningly. 

1 comment:

Laura said...

I would agree that Epstein is the 5th Beatle. Without Epstein, the Beatles would have been a different group and probably not as successful.