Over the past 50 years, many have claimed to be the famed “Fifth Beatle.” But nobody deserves that title more than Brian Epstein. Though his name has gone down in history as the hardworking businessman who discovered The Beatles and brought them both enormous fame and tremendous success, not many know the man behind the fable.
The new graphic novel ‘The Fifth Beatle’ focuses on a relatively unknown, yet essential, part of The Beatles’ story, telling it from a new perspective: that of Mr. Epstein himself. The long-awaited publication, written by Vivek J. Tiwary and illustrated by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker, will be available to the public on November 19th through Dark Horse Comics. The novel helps to turn the mystery of Brian Epstein into a real human being.
So who was Brian Epstein, the quiet superhero behind The Beatles’ success?
The novel answers the question that music fans have been wondering for decades. The story starts at the beginning of Epstein’s career, chronicling how he turned his business savvy and drive from his family’s record store to the transformation of a relatively unknown band into the most famous rock and roll group in history.
Brian will always be known as the man who brought the band from the hot, dark and dusty Cavern Club to the largest stages in the United States (the holy grail for a band from the UK), even inventing the idea of playing live concerts at stadiums. Though most of the band’s history has been told and the details have been well documented, over the years, Brian’s own story has gotten lost in the shuffle.
‘The Fifth Beatle’ gives valuable and previously unknown insights into some of Brian’s successful business decisions, particularly how he put The Beatles on the world map, especially in the U.S., where they became music’s biggest act and kicked off the pandemonium that was Beatlemania. Brian managed to stay calm an eye of the Beatles hurricane; he was the only person that could tame the ‘4-Headed Monster’ and provide the structure and stability they needed to maintain their success. While the band was busy making art, honing their craft and being wildly creative in the studio, he was the one selling it.
But while the band was so visible in the public eye, Brian Epstein was the one behind scenes, always putting his own happiness last. He was a human being who wasn’t allowed to be; he was a homosexual, which was actually illegal in the UK at the time. He had to live in the shadows – sometimes literally. The novel focuses on Brian’s sexuality, exploring in detail his debilitating loneliness, which he attempted to remedy through trysts in Central Park and a devastatingly unsuccessful relationship with a young man in New York City. The book also brings to light the details of his drug habit, which eventually brought about his personal downfall and his untimely death at the young age of 32.
Brian’s tragic demise in 1967 was a major blow to The Beatles, and they were never the same after. They began to unravel without his structure and leadership: two things the band struggled with until they disbanded in 1970. It is staggering how much the man accomplished in such a short time, bringing the most popular and celebrated band in music history to new heights of fame. To this day, no one fully knows if his death was a suicide or an accident – and we probably never will.
Even though we know how the story of Brian Epstein ends, the details have been relatively unknown. But ‘The Fifth Beatle’ helps fill in the gaps and show us, in stunning illustration, a story we’ve yet to read. The graphic novel brings the tale of The Beatles to life in a new medium: that of a comic book. Drawn in beautiful detail, the expressions on the people’s faces, the dark, gritty tones of Liverpool and the vivid colors of Central Park illustrate the life, struggle, career and death of Brian Epstein and The Beatles.
This project was a labor of love for Tiwary, who meticulously conducted research on Brian Epstein for over two decades. Though it seems that there is not much new information about the Beatles to uncover, he has been able to find it, and present it to the masses in a unique way.
‘The Fifth Beatle’ is poised to satiate any geek: from the Beatles Freaks (myself included), happy to glean new tidbits of information about the band, to avid comic book readers who want to learn about a new kind of hero. The graphic novel is soon to be adapted into a feature film, which will be produced by Tiwary and Oscar winner Bruce Cohen (AMERICAN BEAUTY, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK). You can pick up your copy of ‘The Fifth Beatle’ and learn more about the project at http://thefifthbeatle.com.