Brian Epstein - often known as the man, the force behind The Beatles, yet a man that rarely receives the recognition he deserves. Walking into the Cavern in 1961, Epstein at the age of 27 took to becoming their manager - one who went on to get the band signed and reach national and international success.
The Fifth Beatle - a graphic novel by Vivek J. Tiwary features the untold biography of Epstein - somewhat of a loner, overcome with ambition yet a man, gay in a Britain that made it a criminal offence, battling with a drug problem and who died painfully young at 32. But it's rare that what many consider being the man, the power and even as McCartney put it "If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian" to be worthy of sharing his story.
Beginning in a dark, rainy Liverpool a young man stands dressed as a sailor smokes and leans back against a dark damp wall, only to punch the suited figure, what we learn to be a young Epstein who works for his father's record store company. A twist of fate lands him in the Cavern watching what will become the Beatles performing he takes it upon himself to make them successful, and here the tale behinds. We see the success of the Beatles against the increasing loneliness of the main protagonist yet I feel his true character never really comes through, it's hinted at sure, but his relationships, friendships with The Beatles themselves are barely mentioned. The bright, vivid, hippie tones of the Beatle inspired illustrations give away to the dark, harsh drawings around Epstein. The illustrations themselves are wonderful - capturing the style and feel of the era, holding and portraying the emotions and situations.
There is some artistic license with this work, especially with the introduction of the pretty faced Moxie - Epstein's PR. Key dates are notated in the corners to pages, but without any knowledge of The Beatles history and with little explanation they are just dates to anyone else. Nevertheless, The Fifth Beatle is worthy of reading - either for your love of a graphic novel, interest in The Beatles or for finding out just a little more about Brian Epstein.
Either way it's continued my interest in graphic novels as something that can be read and enjoyed - if you have any recommendations I'd love to hear them!
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