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The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by…

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story

by Vivek J. Tiwary, Kyle Baker (Illustrator), Andrew C. Robinson (Illustrator)

Other authors: Billy J. Kramer (Introduction), Andrew Loog Oldham (Foreword)

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Showing 5 of 5
The trend of graphic biographies is an interesting one, and this subject is particularly interesting. It is the story of Brian Epstein, whom most people know simply as the Beatles' manager. In this book we see their meeting from his perspective, his ambition to make them the best thing the world had ever seen, and his struggles with anxiety and being gay in an era when being gay was a felony. I found the artwork varied and well done, but the layout and sequence of some panels caused confusion; it would take me a couple of read-throughs to figure out the direction of the conversation on the page.

This book probably works best for those who have some familiarity with the Beatles' story. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 15, 2017 |
First, I don't normally read graphic novels, but I adore The Beatles. While I knew some of Brian Epstein's history I had hoped that this would be more comprehensive. Had I not known most of the Epstein story already I might have been lost. For that reason I would only recommend this to Beatlemaniacs who have at least a basic understanding of who Brian Epstein was and his role with The Beatles.

That being said, Epstein's story is powerful. Young and wealthy, but still driven by his passions, he experiences victory and overcoming enormous odds. His story also highlights the pain and isolation that many LGTB youths in England experienced at the time, and to some extent, even today.

Also, I had always thought that the fifth Beatle was considered to be Stuart Sutcliffe. But a cursory search of the highly credible source Wikipedia leads me to a Paul McCartney quote that states: "If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was [Beatles' manager] Brian Epstein."

The illustrations are lovely and keep with the standard Japanese Manga style.

(This review is based on an advance review copy supplied through NetGalley by the publisher.) ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Let's start this by saying I may not be the best to be reviewing any graphic novel. Growing up, my favorite comics were Looney Tunes and Disney – you know, the kind where there isn't a plot thread that goes on for limitless issues. So, I have never had a full appreciation for the way graphic novels are constructed and the way they work. However, that does not mean I don't appreciate an interesting story with illustrations that can capture you and add to the story.

I just don't have a full appreciation for how these all work together – how you tell a really good graphic novel from a really bad one.

Caveats have now been spoken.

The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story tells the story of...well, the story of Brian Epstein. If you don't know, he is the one who "discovered" The Beatles and was hugely instrumental in developing them to the insane levels of stardom they reached. All well and good, but Epstein was gay and, in case you have forgotten (or are too young to remember), this was a time when being gay was a felony. For all intents and purposes it was still the time of Oscar Wilde, and it was just not a good time to come out.

This book weaves the story of Epstein's discovery and development of The Beatles with his personal struggles regarding his sexual preferences, as well as his battle with the drugs he was taking to calm himself and to calm those "unnatural" urges. Epstein loses the battle and, a final premise of this book, the loss is an important part of why The Beatles dissolved.

The story is well told. There is just enough of The Beatles (and the story we know so well) to provide a linchpin for the story of Epstein himself. But that focus never wavers from Epstein – this is the tale of how the times cause a self-destruction.

And the illustrations play an instrumental role in enhancing the story that is being told and in moving that story forward. In other words (again, based on my limited knowledge of how the genre works), this book shows an excellent marriage between story and illustration. Further, the illustrations themselves explore a wide range of styles that fit the story being told at that time. From the television style used in the interview of Epstein to the cartoon style used relating to The Beatles trip to the Philippines to the Mad Men style used at cocktail parties to the... I'll stop. There are multiple styles used throughout, and they mesh perfectly with the story.

And one final thing, there is a true beauty in some of the images. Everyone tells me there is true art in graphic novels. This one proves that point.

A joyful and heartbreaking story, excellent illustrations, and a reliance of each on the other. I guess that is what makes a good graphic novel. And that is why this neophyte thinks it is a good graphic novel. ( )
  figre | Dec 27, 2013 |
I was really disappointed in this book. I had been expecting a story that told how Epstein created the phenomenon of the Beatles, his role in Beatlemania and his relationship with the Beatles themselves. The title "The Fifth Beatle" implies that he was close to them. I wanted to know his relationship with each of them personally. Who did he get along with the most? Who did he not like, or butt heads with the most often? What was it really like managing these guys. None of this was addressed. Briefly, we are told how he got the Beatles a record deal, dreamt up the merchandising angle, getting frustrated with the Beatles lackadaisical attitudes, and we see him talking to John a lot ; none of the other Beatles have any critical interaction with him.

Instead what this book tells us about is Brian Epstein, the gay man, the depressed man, who took a lot of prescription meds. It focuses on an affair he had with what I guess would be called a gigolo at the time, and how that man came back to haunt him by blackmailing him. The book doesn't even address how this makes him "The Fifth Beatle". ( )
  ElizaJane | Dec 25, 2013 |
“If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” Paul McCartney said it and it is undoubtedly true. There would have been Beatles anyway, they already existed before Brian showed up, but it is very probable that they would never have got out of England ahead of all the other bands that were cresting at that same heady moment in the early Sixties. It was Brian Epstein that had the vision, and the resources, to push his dream to a reality — to see the Beatles as a world-wide phenomenon, taking music and pop culture to places that it had never been in the public imagination since a teenage Mozart had girls screaming and fainting in 18th century Vienna (or so I imagine).

This book at long last gives Brian the front and center recognition that he deserves. There is not exactly new information here that wasn’t public knowledge one way or the other over the past half-century, but it has never been brought together before in such an appealing package.

For writer Vivek J. Tiwary it has obviously been a labor of love and the results show. Andrew C. Robinson’s art is fresh and compelling and the work of Kyle Baker is a pleasant experience throughout.

The Beatles have been the most over-documented pop phenomenon in history and this small contribution is a welcome addition, bringing the talented Brian Epstein out of the shadows and into the spotlight. ( )
  abealy | Sep 6, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vivek J. Tiwaryprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baker, KyleIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Robinson, Andrew C.Illustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kramer, Billy J.Introductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oldham, Andrew LoogForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"I knew that we were in trouble then. I didn't really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music, and I was scared. [When Brian died] I thought, 'We've fuckin' had it.'"
– John Lennon, 1970
for Nandini Beharry Tiwary and Malka "Queenie" Epstein
for Jim and Leah
First words
Wondrous place.
If love were all you need, I should be lonely.
I want a happy ending! So I will keep pushing myself toward whatever it takes – until I figure out how to get it!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"In 1961, twenty-seven-year-old Brian Epstein walked into a dank Liverpool basement to see an unknown rock band perform--and our world was forever changed. The fifth Beatle is Epstein's untold true story: the tale of a genuine visionary who discovered, managed, and guided the Beatles to unprecedented international stardom, rewriting the rule of the pop music business in the process. But Brian Epstein was also the ultimate outsider, constantly searching for a place where he might belong. He helped spread the Beatles' message of love to the entire world, yet died painfully lonely at the young age of thirty-two, consumed by staggering ambition and the endless, seemingly insurmountable struggles that came with it."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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