New graphic novel pays tribute to music legends The Beatles
An insightful graphic novel by Jason Quinn pays tribute to four legends who shook the world with their brand of Rock and Roll
The comic strip/graphic novel has emerged as one of the most engaging media to compress history in today’s times. But it is not easy to trace the story of The Beatles, one of the greatest bands in the history of Rock and Roll, with minute detail. Jason Quinn, the author of Steve Jobs: Genius by Design, attempts a masterstroke. This book deserves credit for singling out anecdotes that define The Beatles’ love for music and how much they loved to exchange art.
The Beatles: All Our Yesterdays (Campfire) sketches the upbringing, adolescence and the inevitable stardom of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. It is a time machine into the alleys of Liverpool, notorious lanes of Hamburg and the days of unconditional friendship. It is divided into four parts (ending at 1962) and followed by an epilogue.
Quinn understands the pulse of The Beatles and their endless gusto for music. He weaves small incidents like Lennon pinching a harmonica from a music store in Arnhem and Harrison lifting a record of the Coasters from a friend’s place into the book.
But it all begins with the Elvis Presley revolution in Europe in 1956 that became a revelation for the young John, who wanted to form a group and match up to the king. Presley’s back-brushed hair and the ‘let’s twist’ stance illustration on the fifth page is a synopsis of the era bitten by the four/four time signature and baritone bug. It is fascinating to read how the author delicately touches media that united youngsters back in the day — transistors and magazines. If John heard Heartbreak Hotel on a radio, Paul read about the song in a magazine.
But Quinn’s genius comes through with the character sketch of Stuart Sutcliffe — an artist-friend of Lennon — who was persuaded to play the bass guitar. The band needed one or a contract would have been cancelled. He is the prince charming, a classy character women would have a soft corner for. The original bass player of the band will be remembered for his sacrifices and adjustments. He loved art but respected Lennon’s friendship more; he sold one of his paintings to buy a bass guitar when he didn’t even know how to play it. Sutcliffe’s love story with photographer Astrid Kirchherr is a sugary sub-plot. He died of aneurysm at 21. The book delves deep into the details of the concert The Beatles played on the day he died. Lennon clowned on stage to bury his sorrow, while Astrid had a tough time accepting that her beloved ‘Stu’ wasn’t around.
The trivia about the instruments the band used will generate interest among youngsters and musicians. Gallotone Champion (used by Lennon) and Edmong Toledo (Harrison) are no less than antiques. Overall, the graphic novel is a good read, though, the illustrations by Lalit Kumar Sharma, could be better. Among the present generation,
not many are familiar with the faces of The Beatles, they may know about the hairstyles but that came much later.
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