The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story OGN (Dark Horse)


Rating: 4/5 – Comics meet Rock and Roll.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Andrew Sanford.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am not much of a fan of the Beatles.  Of course given their prominence in pop culture, I know their songs and can name all four of the members of the band but don’t really know much beyond the most common elements that have permeated the at-large population.  This book tells the story of their manager Brian Epstein and while it rings of a narrative truth, I cannot corroborate any but the most basic facts contained within.  I had heard good things about it and one look at that cover and I was sold.  There is no bait and switch as the cover accurately depicts the quality and style of the artwork within, absent a short section thematically consistent and well done by Kyle Baker.  The rest of the artwork is courtesy of Andrew C. Robinson and written by Vivek J. Tiwary.

We start with the Beatles playing away in obscurity and Epstein runs his family record business.  His assistant convinces him to see the band and he is enraptured.  Although he lacks any experience he decides he must manage the band. The story is completely from his perspective and paints a portrait of a man that tried several previous ventures with no success.  Here he finds his cause and from the beginning believes that they will be bigger than Elvis despite all evidence to the contrary.  He consistently uses his own money and connections as a music store manager to propel the band to the top spot.  Running concurrently are his struggles with his homosexuality at a time when England had very strict laws against homosexuality.   The Beatles themselves are not given much page real estate but even for a noob like myself, I recognize the likenesses as portrayed.  There is always a tension when portraying famous people between being familiar to the reader yet not too tied to a photorealistic, stiff portrayal and here the art team knocks it out of the park.  This is an oversized hardcover where you can just stare at the pretty pictures.   The figures have a long lanky appearance enhanced by the extra height to the book.

This is one book that you can judge by the cover and if that art strikes your fancy, grab a copy.  On a strange note, the publisher Dark Horse leaves their logo off the spine, in favor of their “M Press” imprint of which I was previously unaware.  The story is compelling but as noted, I can’t speak to how closely it hews to other reported accounts.  They conclude that the contributions of Epstein were essential to the eventual success of the Beatles.  If you are a big Beatles fan, I am unsure how to advise you but certainly this book shows Epstein’s troubles.  Further, to the extent that your personal beliefs condemn homosexuality, you may not like the tenor of the book which is sympathetic to the idea of equality based on sexual orientation but regardless I can’t imagine any reader not recognizing the high quality of the product.

Reviewed by: Andrew Sanford
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2 Responses to The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story OGN (Dark Horse)

  1. Good review. I was thinking of getting this when it came out, but held off. Am still in no rush to go out and get it, but at least I now get an idea of the quality and story. Thanks!

  2. trickyfilms says:

    I am a huge Beatles fan. :o)John’s my favourite.

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