The Fifth Beatle charts Brian Epstein’s discovery of The Beatles and his work to sharpen them into the stars they became—crafting their infectious image and presentation from truly rough and tough beginnings, securing a record deal when no one wanted to touch them, successfully bringing them to a world stage with a scale and scope no music impresario had ever attempted, and eventually proving through “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that pop music could be an inspirational art form.
Notes on This Title
An act of homophobic violence is depicted, although not in graphic detail.
2014 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work
2014 Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album of Original Work
2014 Harvey Award for Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation
2014 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Graphic Novel - Nominee
Starred review: “While various Fab Four collaborators have been dubbed the “fifth Beatle,” Paul McCartney bestowed that distinction upon Brian Epstein in a 1997 BBC interview. As the band’s legendary manager, Epstein hauled the rambunctious Liverpooligans out of their Merseyside basement gigs, reworked their image, and pushed them onto the world’s stages and into a record contract. While he was inexperienced with managing musicians, Epstein did have contacts in the recording industry plus plenty of chutzpah and flair. He was both Jewish and gay, the first stigmatized and the second illegal in England then, even as his outsider background lent him skills that served the Beatles well. Fascinated by Epstein for more than 20 years, award-winning producer Tiwary supplemented his research by interviewing people who knew the man. The masterly, bittersweet account enjoys wonderful multimedia art from Robinson (Dusty Star; King Conan) and Kyle Baker (Plastic Man; Nat Turner) that captures the exuberance and longings of the 1960s. VERDICT A must for music collections as well adult graphic novel sections, Epstein’s story will appeal to Beatles fans and pop culture watchers, teen and up. Note strong language and a few episodes of inexplicit gay sex.” (Source: Library Journal)
“Tiwary’s poetic tribute is a just and moving remembrance of Epstein, who sacrificed everything–dying at age 32–to create the band that sang, ‘All you need is love,’ something that Epstein sadly never received.” (Source: Lambda Literary)
“Presenting a new facet of Beatles biography is a challenge. Tiwary and Robinson break new ground by spotlighting the Beatles’ discoverer and manager, Brian Epstein, telling his story in graphic novel form. The book hits all the familiar high points—the first #1 single, appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, John’s controversial “more popular than Jesus” quip, etc.—but it doesn’t feel like a check-off-the-boxes retelling. The focus on Epstein and his hidden homosexuality (in that era, it was a criminal offense in Britain) gives the pop history some weight. Though in some places the book is fictionalized and highly stylized, the juxtaposition of Epstein’s stewardship of the mop-top quartet with flashbacks to his past life illuminates his innate loneliness, even in the face of fame and fortune. Robinson and Baker’s artwork is colorful and fluid, and it avoids looking like copies of publicity stills (a cliché of biographical comics), with rich, deep color palettes capturing the mod energy of the ’60s. Purists will quibble about minor gaffes, but there’s nothing to find fault with here—aside from the much-trodden road of the subject material.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)