Review: The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story
The Fifth Beatle is the untold true story of Brian Epstein, the visionary manager who discovered and guided the Beatles—from their gigs in a tiny cellar in Liverpool to unprecedented international stardom. Yet more than merely the story of “The Man Who Made The Beatles,” The Fifth Beatle is an uplifting, tragic, and ultimately inspirational human story about the struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Brian Epstein was homosexual when it was a felony to be so in the United Kingdom, Jewish at a time of anti-Semitism, and from Liverpool when it was considered just a dingy port town. 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 struggles that came with it.
I should start off to say I became a fan of the Beatles later in life and didn’t know at all who Brian Epstein was, so I went into the graphic novel pretty blank in what I could expect and what the story would be about. Writer Vivek Tiwary has put together a masterful and touching story that takes us through history with a narrative that’s not completely shackled by it. And by doing so, he gives us a graphic novel that’s a lesson in business, perseverance and an amazing human interest story that’s tragic and uplifting at the same time. It’s a story of what one person can make happen when they’re determined to do so and that anyone can dream big.
Tiwary pulls off an amazing balance that digs into Epstein’s personal life, mixing it with his experience managing the Beatles. Throughout it tugs at your heart strings while also showing off the excitement of the time and how amazing the Beatles were. While the story makes sure to point out the outsider status Epstein was in his personal life, it at no point becomes preachy, instead it fills you with a sadness over what he must have gone through. It’s a fantastic mix creating an entertaining and insightful historical account.
Joining Tiwary for the graphic novel is Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker on art and both just add to the package contributing amazing art to a story that’s taken too long to tell. The combination of it all is mesmerizing and creates one of the best graphic novels of the year. The choices in color and art style is well thought out adding to the understanding of the time and narrative. It’s truly an amazing thing that’ll have you linger on each page staring at the art long after you’ve finished reading the words.
Both heartbreaking and uplifting, The Fifth Beatle not only reveals an important, unsung chapter in the history of the Beatles—but it will inspire anyone who’s ever dared to believe in a dream. Brian Epstein’s story has been a long time coming, but this is so good, it’s been well worth the wait. This will go down as a must read graphic novel for it’s style and narrative, but also as a must read for Beatles history.
Story: Vivek J. Tiwary Art: Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker
Story: 9.75 Art: 9.75 Overall: 9.75 Recommendation: Buy
Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review