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The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story Limited Edition

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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 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 himself died painfully lonely at the young age of thirty-two, having helped the Beatles prove through "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" that pop music could be an inspirational art form. He 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. This limited edition of this groundbreaking graphic novel features a signed tip-in sheet by creators Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, and Kyle Baker, along with a bonus section including unique Beatles and Brian Epstein memorabilia and behind-the-scenes sketches, a unique, textured cover, and a slipcase. Limited to 1500 signed and numbered copies.


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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 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 himself died painfully lonely at the young age of thirty-two, having helped the Beatles prove through "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" that pop music could be an inspirational art form. He 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. This limited edition of this groundbreaking graphic novel features a signed tip-in sheet by creators Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, and Kyle Baker, along with a bonus section including unique Beatles and Brian Epstein memorabilia and behind-the-scenes sketches, a unique, textured cover, and a slipcase. Limited to 1500 signed and numbered copies.

30 review for The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story Limited Edition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    A fair amount of men are tagged as (or would like to be considered) 'the fifth Beatle.' For what it's worth I agree with Sir Paul that it can be both producer George Martin and manager Brian Epstein. Tiwary's The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story is a wonderful and artistic graphic novel / abridged biography of Epstein's life, focusing mostly on his involvement with the Beatles from 1961 to 1967. But this is not some mere book for children - it is heavy on the mature themes / subject matter. I A fair amount of men are tagged as (or would like to be considered) 'the fifth Beatle.' For what it's worth I agree with Sir Paul that it can be both producer George Martin and manager Brian Epstein. Tiwary's The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story is a wonderful and artistic graphic novel / abridged biography of Epstein's life, focusing mostly on his involvement with the Beatles from 1961 to 1967. But this is not some mere book for children - it is heavy on the mature themes / subject matter. In a fantastic early three-page section, Epstein's mundane life of working in his family's Liverpool music store is kicked to the next level once he catches a certain new and local rock quartet action at the Cavern Club. (The look on his face is absolutely priceless - it must've sounded like angels printing money!) In short order he becomes the Beatles' manager, and institutes changes - the matching suits, the synchronized bowing, etc. - that became trademarks and helped push the group into worldwide superstardom. But, sadly, even with this success Epstein was a still troubled man. The book does not shy away from showing his increasing use / dependency on medication, or how he would improperly obtain it from physicians. An overdose would kill him at a relatively young age. Even more lamentable were the problems associated with Epstein's sexual orientation. (To be clear, I'm not suggesting his orientation was wrong - I say live and let live, love and let love.) Until 1967 - coincidentally, the year of his passing - homosexuality in Great Britain was a crime, so he had to live certain parts of his life in secret. He would be risking arrest or, in what was probably worse in his mind, the tarnishing of both his family's and the Beatles' name / reputation with any open activity. Epstein suffered physical and mental abuse, and even an extortion attempt, at the hands of other men. Luck and love were not on his side when attempting to covertly find a romantic partner. This was the saddest part of the story (and one of the saddest moments I've read about so far this year) because although he had good people and things in his life, this issue caused him considerable pain. So while there is a melancholy ending of sorts, I don't want to make The Fifth Beatle sound like a total downer of a book. There are moments of joy and happiness; there are jokes and references about Beatles lore and legend that will bring knowing smiles to the faces of fans. While he may not have been one of the Fab Four, in my eyes Epstein (and producer Martin) should both be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the boys in the overall story of one of rock's most influential acts.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Poor Brian Epstein: That’s what I thought before I read this and it’s what I thought immediately afterward. His story is told literally, metaphorically, sympathetically. And it could be dedicated to all of those for whom love better not be all you need -- that is, to All the Lonely People…

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    This book is pretty great even if it takes some liberties with the facts. The art is spectacular. I love the 60's art design. This book is pretty great even if it takes some liberties with the facts. The art is spectacular. I love the 60's art design.

  4. 5 out of 5

    B Schrodinger

    I love the new wave over the last several years of biographical graphic novels. Just typing those words out makes me think they were meant to be together. I have been lucky enough to read some that I have enjoyed greatly (Feynman) and some that were not really my cup of tea (Blankets). I guess there is also the one that started them all, The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman which I need to reread and review. The Fifth Beatle, I am happy to report, stands up as a fine example of how the two genres I love the new wave over the last several years of biographical graphic novels. Just typing those words out makes me think they were meant to be together. I have been lucky enough to read some that I have enjoyed greatly (Feynman) and some that were not really my cup of tea (Blankets). I guess there is also the one that started them all, The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman which I need to reread and review. The Fifth Beatle, I am happy to report, stands up as a fine example of how the two genres can work together to produce something beautiful and original. This same story could not have been produced either in a written biography nor an animation. It tells the story of Brian Epstein and his management of The Beatles, from hearing a record in his father's store, to his untimely and troubled death six years later. It is a sad story of an ambitious man that does succeed greatly, but he doesn't measure his success like the rest of the world an remains troubled, lonely and naive in some ways. But what shines through is that he was a wonderful man, who did what he did for love and friendship rather than fame and fortune. But what really elevates this graphic novel above the norm is the beautiful artwork by Andrew C. Robinson. He checks all the boxes for the ultimate look in what you'd like to see in this story; there is an overall beatnik design to the work, the likenesses are slightly caricature but brilliantly accurate and flattering, the colour palette is spot on for each setting, and I think that each cell could be hung in a gallery. So if you are a Beatles fan, or a fan of fine graphic novels, check out The Fifth Beatle. It's a beautifully tragic story full of even more beautiful art.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    “Mythology is better and more fondly remembered than history! So we create legends rather than recount truths.” - Brian Epstein The Fifth Beatle is a graphic biography of Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ first manager, who broke them to the world and took them further than they thought possible - becoming more popular than Elvis - before passing away shortly after the release of Sgt Peppers from a drug overdose. Writer Vivek Tiwary presents a vivid and colourful portrait of the man who was also a trou “Mythology is better and more fondly remembered than history! So we create legends rather than recount truths.” - Brian Epstein The Fifth Beatle is a graphic biography of Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ first manager, who broke them to the world and took them further than they thought possible - becoming more popular than Elvis - before passing away shortly after the release of Sgt Peppers from a drug overdose. Writer Vivek Tiwary presents a vivid and colourful portrait of the man who was also a troubled, lonely and tragic figure whose nature would be his own downfall. As the quote above indicates, Tiwary plays with fact and fiction in his retelling to spice up the story such as Epstein’s fictional assistant, Moxie, who becomes his confidant on his journey to the top, perhaps representing his ambition, while scenes like Ed Sullivan interviewing Epstein with a ventriloquist’s dummy remain potentially true or false. Before Epstein became The Beatles’ manager, he had tried his hand at fashion which would play a major part in transforming the leather jacket-wearing scousers into the smart, iconic young men who the world would come to know via songs like Please, Please Me and Love Me Do. But he also had a keen eye for bullfighting and is presented on the cover as a matador. In a key scene with John, he explains his fascination of the matador: “At his final moment of triumph, the matador becomes death - he kills the killing machine. But not before he gives the bull its glory, shows the world its beauty, its powers, its majesty. He also gives the aficionados something to believe in, something to admire, and ultimately something to hate. So in the end, he gives people hope.” That’s Tiwary’s approach to Epstein in this book - Epstein is the matador who shows the bull (The Beatles) to the world, exposing the glory and beauty of their music. Epstein was also a closet homosexual, though not particularly due to shame but because during his lifetime homosexuality was literally illegal - a fact that would change mere months after Epstein’s early death. And his sexuality does play a big part in his story as it isolated him from true companionship, like when The Beatles find girlfriends and spend time with them rather than Epstein who’s left looking into his mirror murmuring “Oh, if love were all… I should be lonely” and taking pills to “curb” his homosexual inclinations. Pills would be Epstein’s downfall as the stress of managing the world’s biggest band would cause anxiety, insomnia and exhaustion, and make him dependent upon sleeping pills to rest. He would eventually die at the age of 32 of a sleeping pill overdose. The book doesn’t go into too much detail of Epstein’s life, sometimes choosing Andrew Robinson’s superb art to tell an ambiguous scene rather than literally spell it out to the reader, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. For example, if you wanted to know why Epstein was in a hospital towards the end of the book, you’d have to look it up separately to find out he was undergoing rehab to change his destructive lifestyle and wean himself off the drugs - in the book, he’s just in a hospital bed, exhausted. And there is a dream-like sequence in his flat as he’s dying that’s a bit too ambiguous for my liking and was also repetitive and a bit too on the nose in explaining Epstein’s feelings. Andrew Robinson’s art in this book is a revelation. His painted style gives the book an incredibly lavish look like when he takes traditional narrative captions and moulds them into the scene - the establishing landscape shot of Liverpool in the rain sees the words “Liverpool” etched across the sky forming part of the rain. But really every page is stunning, especially the colours, but I loved the dream sequence where he’s on a train to London and sees himself outside, outrunning the train with a copy of Love Me Do in his hands, and the dance montage with Moxie was incredibly beautiful (as was Moxie!). The clothes of the time, the character designs, the imaginative layouts and angles - it’s all perfect. For some reason Kyle Baker was brought in to draw the section dedicated to The Beatles’ Philippines Tour which was the only downpoint of the art in the book. Baker is one of the worst Marvel artists I’ve ever seen and his work on David Lapham’s Deadpool is shocking. I suppose his style was designed to show the humour of the tour? Ech. I wouldn’t say The Fifth Beatle is a perfect book as it only really shows a stylised portrait of Brian Epstein rather than the full picture but you do come away from it with the right ideas about him. That he was a lonely, somewhat tragic figure but a brilliant, charismatic man whose ambition and vision paved the way in introducing to the world the greatest pop group of all time. And it really is an absolutely gorgeous book to have (for the most part). Well worth a read if you’re interested in finding out more about the manager of the Beatles, Brian Epstein.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jedi JC Daquis

    The Fifth Beatle is a good example on how biography can be told more colorfully in the graphic form of literature. Vivek Tiwary's interpretation of the life of The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein can be best described as a life of a man who has devoted his life to bringing the British pop-ballad band on top of the world, which has led to his own demise. The matador philosophy embedded in the Fifth Beatle adds some interesting layers in an otherwise straightforward story of a person's career. Bria The Fifth Beatle is a good example on how biography can be told more colorfully in the graphic form of literature. Vivek Tiwary's interpretation of the life of The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein can be best described as a life of a man who has devoted his life to bringing the British pop-ballad band on top of the world, which has led to his own demise. The matador philosophy embedded in the Fifth Beatle adds some interesting layers in an otherwise straightforward story of a person's career. Brian Epstein's reverence to this sport gives meat to his restrained queer sexuality, as he is an unrelenting bull with an intense inner desire to be dominated by an alpha male, a ruthless matador that will drive him to his best but ultimately will be the cause of his death. The bull-matador relationship also reflects his role as a manager of the Beatles. And I think this is what the book is explicitly telling its readers: Epstein, the matador showing to the crowd the glory of the bull, The Beatles, guiding them in this elaborate dance of their lifetime in a public arena, before he gives the final blow to the fierce animal. Brian Epstein's persona is thoroughly fleshed-out, even though I really do not know which one is fact and which one is the author's creative interpretation. The other character's personalities pale in comparison. The Beatles themselves were most of the time one-dimensional here. I get it, since after all this is an Epstein story, but it could have been good if his personal relationship with each of the band members were dealt with too. Artwork is fine and good to look at (I have a ton of fun reading the group's fiasco in the Philippines. Making fun of corrupt politicians is the best!), the colors and the fashion of that era are refreshing for my eyes. The facial expressions, I have no problem with them per se, it's just they've become very repetitive. Other than that, The Fifth Beatle's artwork is something worth seeing. The hardcover and the high-quality paper is also something to point out in this book. It easily stands out in your shelf or your coffee table, and a good source of small talk with your book lover friends. The Fifth Beatle is good read even for those who are not The Beatles fans. This is not my cup of tea but I understand why this book has garnered many praise.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nikki in Niagara

    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. Bri 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".

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    One thing I've noticed in what's become my scholarly study on The Beatles is that one can find a wealth of information on the band, the individual members, and their chronological history. I may know more about John Lennon than I do my current president, and yet information on their manager, Brian Epstein, remains scarce. Pretty much everything I know about Epstein came from Peter Brown's memoir, The Love You Make. I know I tend to hold up that book as the standard, but years and years after I'v One thing I've noticed in what's become my scholarly study on The Beatles is that one can find a wealth of information on the band, the individual members, and their chronological history. I may know more about John Lennon than I do my current president, and yet information on their manager, Brian Epstein, remains scarce. Pretty much everything I know about Epstein came from Peter Brown's memoir, The Love You Make. I know I tend to hold up that book as the standard, but years and years after I've read it, the memory is fresh. There are Epstein-centric books, though, none of which I have read: among them a ghostwritten autobiography published at the height of Beatlemania that is likely whitewashed to appeal to young fans, and a more in-depth history from Lennon biographer Ray Coleman. One could guess the lack in reading material about Epstein corresponds to the short time he worked with the band and the fact he died so young. I see pictures of Epstein and imagine a man beyond his years - always mature and serious - when in fact he was only six years older than John. We can imagine the stress of managing an extremely popular group aged him prematurely. Not only that, Epstein dealt with social prejudices that rendered him depressed and unable to sleep. A public figure comes out as homosexual today and it may not be a big deal, but in 1962 to be gay and Jewish in a tiny English port town equated to painting a large target on your head. The Fifth Beatle, a new graphic novel fictionalizing the life of Epstein, opens with the grim image of Epstein suffering a violent act in what appears to be a hustle gone wrong in a dank Liverpool alley. It's a specter of shame and unrequited feelings that follow him through his short life, terrors he seeks to replace with success. Fans know the legend - Epstein had little to no talent management experience, but knew the music business through the family chain of record shops. He attends a live show at the Cavern after hearing of the Beatles, and you know the rest. The Fifth Beatle vividly recreates this and other key scenes in Epstein's relationship with The Beatles with sharp characterization and moody colors. Unlike another graphic novel reviewed here (Baby in Black), representations of main and supporting players take on appearances that match their personalities - genuine and assumed. Brian comes off as enthusiastic despite weary expressions, John is sharp and smirking, and Paul exudes a gee-whiz cuteness. Darker scenes position people like Colonel Tom Parker in a demonic setting and Ed Sullivan as wooden (you'll see it soon enough), and Yoko Ono in an eerie cameo. All through the adventure, Brian has a right-hand woman named Moxie. Whether she existed as a composite of personnel assisting the band and Epstein or as a figment of the imagination (not unlike Jessica Lange's angel/confessor in All That Jazz) remains up for debate. Her role in the story serves to heighten one thing we've always known about Brian Epstein - he was lonely. He had friends and family, and while he may not have been the savviest of managers he had the respect of four lads from Liverpool for a time. Nonetheless, he had no partner with whom to share his success, and that knowledge make this story all the more bittersweet. His premature death in 1967 is arguably the beginning of the end of The Beatles - that's something I've believed for a long time. We can blame Yoko, but the smoke ignited when the band found themselves without management and couldn't easily decide on a successor. Anyway, I've followed the progress of The Fifth Beatle for the better part of a year and looked forward to reading it. Overall, I liked the story and the illustration. Fans will easily spot the lyrical Easter eggs in the dialogue, but I find things like that take me out of the story and make it a challenge to take it seriously (Clockwork Angels had this same issue). I will admit, too, there are known scenes of Epstein's life that didn't make it to this book. George is barely represented here, Ringo even less, and Pete Best isn't on the radar...unless you count blurred background Cavern images. Also missing or downplayed are moments of John's cruel humor, anti-Semitic and anti-gay slurs that reportedly drove Epstein to tears. The Fifth Beatle is a welcome tribute to a figure sometimes marginalized in Beatles history. Petitions to get Epstein inducted as a non-performer in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continue to circulate, and perhaps a book like this will bring more attention to the cause. ARC received from NetGalley

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tom LA

    Wonderful, just wonderful. Both the design, the art and the content of this graphic novel are superb. Congratulations to the author for a work of pure love.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    So, I am old enough to have seen The Beatles in their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in the sixties. Fifty years later, I can still say I am a Beatles fan, and many still are, with special Beatles Days on the radio here in Chicago (on one stain it is Wednesday, on another Sunday morning). And I knew of Brian Epstein, as any music geek did who pored over trivia in all the magazines would know. He was partly responsible for the success of the Beatles. But I didn't have any particular fascinat So, I am old enough to have seen The Beatles in their appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in the sixties. Fifty years later, I can still say I am a Beatles fan, and many still are, with special Beatles Days on the radio here in Chicago (on one stain it is Wednesday, on another Sunday morning). And I knew of Brian Epstein, as any music geek did who pored over trivia in all the magazines would know. He was partly responsible for the success of the Beatles. But I didn't have any particular fascination for him. I just liked the music. And I still, after reading this biography, am not that fascinated by him. The artwork is particularly good. The imagined dialogue, eh. The story? Well, Epstein was a closeted homosexual during a time, just fifty years ago, when it was literally ILLEGAL to be homosexual in Britain. That story almost feels common now, in a way, and the stories keep coming. I just can't imagine fifty years later that the producer of a rock group might get this great a following or interest! Good for the production team and Epstein. It's a pretty book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Brian Epstein has never really got the recognition he deserves and this beautiful, graphic novel, helps redress that. Told with the kind of artistic flair he would have fully approved of, this is the tale of a man who was captivated – as much of the world would later be – by a group playing in a Liverpool cellar and who helped groom them for international stardom. Against all the odds, he felt they would not only be big, but the ‘biggest’ thing in entertainment. Even the Beatles themselves felt Brian Epstein has never really got the recognition he deserves and this beautiful, graphic novel, helps redress that. Told with the kind of artistic flair he would have fully approved of, this is the tale of a man who was captivated – as much of the world would later be – by a group playing in a Liverpool cellar and who helped groom them for international stardom. Against all the odds, he felt they would not only be big, but the ‘biggest’ thing in entertainment. Even the Beatles themselves felt that his expectations were unrealistic, but they weren’t. He was right. I have often felt that the Beatles were lucky. While Elvis had ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker – a man who lied to him, who cared about what Elvis could earn and not about his artistic integrity – the Beatles had both Brian Epstein and George Martin to guide them through their career. This book has stunning artwork and really captures Brian’s emotions, flaws and talents. His love for the Beatles, his vulnerability, his reliance on drugs and his difficult feelings about his sexuality. This is his story, not the Beatles, but the two are entwined and will be forever. It is unlikely that they would have become the success they did without him and, despite his faults – both business and personal – he never purposely did anything that could hurt them. For Brian, they were his ‘boys’ and he adored them. Even in the Sixties, Brian said that their music would be played forever. He was right again. Although I have never really read a graphic novel myself, although I have brought them for my son, I thought the format worked really well. I found the illustrations - especially those of Liverpool and of Brian watching the Beatles for the first time - very moving. Overall, this was a really sympathetic portrayal of a man who should really be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and given the respect and recognition he so deserves.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Lovely book! Didn't really know much about Epstein before reading this. Sounds like he was quite an amazing fellow. The phrase, "The Fifth Beatle," has become a bit of a cliche, but it seems apt in this case. The afterword hints that some liberties may have been taken with reality. Whether this is true or not, I don't know enough to say, but it's certainly a remarkable and well-done book. Lovely book! Didn't really know much about Epstein before reading this. Sounds like he was quite an amazing fellow. The phrase, "The Fifth Beatle," has become a bit of a cliche, but it seems apt in this case. The afterword hints that some liberties may have been taken with reality. Whether this is true or not, I don't know enough to say, but it's certainly a remarkable and well-done book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    orangerful

    This is a MUST read. Not just for Beatles fans, Brian Epstein's story is still relevant today and even if you are not a huge fan of the Fab Four, you will enjoy this beautiful graphic novel biography. I'm not sure what else to say about this book. It gave me so many feels, a roller coaster of emotions and by the final page, I was starting to get a little choked up. Even though I knew how it all ended, it was just so heart-breaking. This is the 2014 Eisner Award Winner for best non-fiction graphi This is a MUST read. Not just for Beatles fans, Brian Epstein's story is still relevant today and even if you are not a huge fan of the Fab Four, you will enjoy this beautiful graphic novel biography. I'm not sure what else to say about this book. It gave me so many feels, a roller coaster of emotions and by the final page, I was starting to get a little choked up. Even though I knew how it all ended, it was just so heart-breaking. This is the 2014 Eisner Award Winner for best non-fiction graphic novels and it definitely deserved the award.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    Wow! This is one heartwarming book. The story of Brian 'Eppy' Epstein is a remarkable one. Oh, the artwork, wow! amazing. Wow! This is one heartwarming book. The story of Brian 'Eppy' Epstein is a remarkable one. Oh, the artwork, wow! amazing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    I would rate this book at 3.5 if I could, though the whole rating situation is fairly nonsensical, so in the scheme of things, what's half a star? Who knows. That said, I didn't love this book, but I loved parts of it. There were a lot of great moments, and what I was left with in the end was a sense of Epstein's determination to get the Beatles in the public sphere, his perfectionism, his tragic struggle with loneliness and addiction, and the violence done to him by homophobic cultural and lega I would rate this book at 3.5 if I could, though the whole rating situation is fairly nonsensical, so in the scheme of things, what's half a star? Who knows. That said, I didn't love this book, but I loved parts of it. There were a lot of great moments, and what I was left with in the end was a sense of Epstein's determination to get the Beatles in the public sphere, his perfectionism, his tragic struggle with loneliness and addiction, and the violence done to him by homophobic cultural and legal systems. I am grateful that this book exists and it was clear from the introduction that the writer has a profound love and respect for and an intimate knowledge of Epstein. He's put years of work into research, and it shows. There have always been people in my life who have had a bit of a Beatles obsession, so though I am not particularly in love with them, Beatles images and sounds have always been part of the fabric of my cultural understandings. Though I have never been a huge Beatles fan I do appreciate them, and I love graphic bios, and I was very curious to learn more about Epstein and the Beatles. As soon as I heard about the book (word of mouth I think) I put it on hold at the library, and I read it the same night I picked it up at the circ desk. From the Goodreads reviews I've read, my sense is that people love the art work in this book and I am asking myself why I found it at times inauthentic-feeling or overwhelming. Maybe it's just not a style that speaks to me. I agree, it's beautiful, but there was an exuberance to the storytelling and art, a bit of "forced feeding" of emotional content, that made me feel like it was yelling rather than talking. At times I thought maybe this was intentional, to give the reader a sense of the pressure Epstein felt to present himself in a certain way-- that he must always be "on." I don't know if that's the case, I only know I experienced the structure of the book as a bit hectic and episodic and would have preferred the pacing to be slower and the visual storytelling a bit more subtle. The arc of Epstein's relationship with the Beatle's, and of his emotional journey during those years, are certainly compassionately drawn by the author and illustrator and I did feel immersed in a world as I read it. I'm grateful I got to learn more about Epstein. It is clear he had a great drive to succeed, and he put an incredible effort into being the best manager he could be.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    beautiful art but story was kinda boring.

  17. 5 out of 5

    zxvasdf

    So there was a fifth Beatle... You must appreciate that success is cultivated, a product of vision; the flame is there, poised against the kindling, and with careful husbandry, twig upon twig, then log after log, it gains life of its own, to burn, burn, burn, a song of photons. Brian Epstein went to a local club to watch the then just starting out Beatles, and found himself enraptured, as if touched by the hand of God. Was it like Mohammed at the mountain? It doesn't seem like an accident, a cult So there was a fifth Beatle... You must appreciate that success is cultivated, a product of vision; the flame is there, poised against the kindling, and with careful husbandry, twig upon twig, then log after log, it gains life of its own, to burn, burn, burn, a song of photons. Brian Epstein went to a local club to watch the then just starting out Beatles, and found himself enraptured, as if touched by the hand of God. Was it like Mohammed at the mountain? It doesn't seem like an accident, a cultural conflagration like Beatlemania, but one thing is certain, it would have never happened if not for the resourcefulness and eternal conviction of Brian Epstein. Tirelessly, yet numbly combating the then illegal "disease" of homosexuality with prescribed medicines, along with other self-prescribed medication, Epstein managed to propel a relatively unknown band from Liverpool onto the national scene. The Beatles, riding this wave, seemed content to coast as they were. Not so for Epstein, who had a vision as big as the world. Bigger than Elvis, he said and he was mocked for it. As always, in the narrative of New Journalism, it's difficult to pinpoint the moments past, so it's important to perceive this as a rigorously researched interpretation of events that actually happened, rather than as a verbatim account of history. Vivek Tiwary reveals to us that the fifth Beatle has been an important personal obsession of his for twenty years, and it shows in the care he tells Epstein's story. In addition to his respectful treatment of a conflicted man, he couldn't have chosen a better team of artists. The Beatles exist for me as a collection of poses digitally uploaded onto servers, and as lyrics on webpages crowded with advertisements. I've watched The Yellow Submarine. Because I'm deaf, there can only be a distant, aesthetic appreciation of this phenomenon, in relation to my previous intense interest in the decade of counterculture. Andrew C Robinson and Kyle Baker, through a cartoony realism, have brought the Beatles to life for me. John Lennon and his smirk, Harrison's calculated scruffiness, and McCartney's perpetually half-stoned gaze. What was once wooden has gained animation, to the extent the drawn seems more real than the photographed. And there's Epstein himself, his handsome features etched with eternal optimism. It also doesn't seem like an accident, this creative team coming together in a time when stories clamor to be told. Now you have the account of an extraordinary man, with all too ordinary struggles whose story has lain underground for far too long, and it ends with a death that could have been better. What would Epstein have thought of our world today if he had lived? He was always sympathetic to issues that ran counter-grain, and I would like to think he would have felt freer, after all these decades of making a difference the Brian Epstein way.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    “If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” Paul McCartney said this of Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager who created their iconic look, helped to cement their working class but smart as a whip public persona, and secured the bookings and record deals that vaulted them to super stardom. But for Brian Epstein, that was never enough. The perfection he strived for in the Beatles’ first tailored outfits and haircuts is evident in his detail-oriented approach to shepherding them along the path t “If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” Paul McCartney said this of Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager who created their iconic look, helped to cement their working class but smart as a whip public persona, and secured the bookings and record deals that vaulted them to super stardom. But for Brian Epstein, that was never enough. The perfection he strived for in the Beatles’ first tailored outfits and haircuts is evident in his detail-oriented approach to shepherding them along the path to fame. He wanted to get them the right bookings in just the right ways, to handle their licensing deals in the most advantageous way, to make sure that the parties planned for the debuts of their albums allowed the correct people to mingle and discuss. Epstein would do anything for his boys—that was clear. Whether it was meeting with Elvis’ satanic manager to try to pick up hints he might have missed as an outsider to the business to putting up with the puppeteering antics of studio heads, Epstein put up with darn near anything to help the Beatles. Epstein’s perfectionism, while helping to insure the success of the Beatles, probably contributed to his early demise. Brian Epstein was gay, and at the time being gay in England was not only unacceptable, it was illegal and was the source of much heartache and loneliness for him. Eventually, the way Epstein dealt with his sexuality lead to his being beaten and blackmailed. His doctor prescribed drugs, the overuse of which, combined with his anxiety and perfectionism, led to dependency and his early demise. The artwork in this graphic novel is its greatest strength. The Beatles are easily distinguished from one another even when stylized a bit and the mod 60s are captured with spring and vigor. The excitement of the period and the nuances of the music are evident. One character, Moxie, Brian’s possibly fictitious personal assistant is particularly helpful in advancing the story, and in showing the reader the side of Brian Epstein that he himself fails to see—the creative, desirable, successful side.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story tries too hard to glorify Epstein’s contributions to The Beatles. No doubt about it, Brian Epstein guided The Beatles in ways that positioned them for greatness, but The Fifth Beatle would have us accept that Epstein was a martyr for that cause. We’ve seen the label “The Fifth Beatle” applied to many figures—for example, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, George Martin, even Yoko Ono--but suggesting that any other individual’s contributions is equal to what wa The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story tries too hard to glorify Epstein’s contributions to The Beatles. No doubt about it, Brian Epstein guided The Beatles in ways that positioned them for greatness, but The Fifth Beatle would have us accept that Epstein was a martyr for that cause. We’ve seen the label “The Fifth Beatle” applied to many figures—for example, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, George Martin, even Yoko Ono--but suggesting that any other individual’s contributions is equal to what was created by the four actual Beatles is just silly. The Fifth Beatle mixes history with histrionics and ends up as an uneven mish-mash. While Vivek Tiwary successfully delivers the story of Brian Epstein’s challenges as a gay man in an intolerant time and place, The Beatles are mostly used as props to tell that story. John Lennon’s character is explored a little bit, but the other Beatles are not treated with any depth. They are distinguishable from one another through Andrew C. Robinson’s visually stylish drawings, but not through their words or actions. The most interesting character in The Fifth Beatle is Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s long-time manager, who turns demonic in a romanticized version of a meeting between the two impresarios. Many Beatles-related characters and angles remain to be explored and explained for a new generation of fans. As time passes and The Beatles become even more mythical, I hope we see their story continue to be told through graphic novels and other literary forms. (A more successful Beatles graphic novel is Arne Bellstorf’s Baby’s In Black .)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Sevitt

    If the great gods of publishing conspired to create a work targeting this one humble reader, they could not have come up with anything more laser precise than this deluxe, outsized graphic biography of Brian Epstein. Just one panel of Brian sharing Friday night dinner with Queenie and Harry was enough to set me off in floods of tears which continued throughout as he guides his beautiful boys to the toppermost of the poppermost. Throw in three pages of John and Brian chastely flirting on the beac If the great gods of publishing conspired to create a work targeting this one humble reader, they could not have come up with anything more laser precise than this deluxe, outsized graphic biography of Brian Epstein. Just one panel of Brian sharing Friday night dinner with Queenie and Harry was enough to set me off in floods of tears which continued throughout as he guides his beautiful boys to the toppermost of the poppermost. Throw in three pages of John and Brian chastely flirting on the beach in Spain and I'm done. It's a loving work, gorgeously presented. It doesn't fit on any of my shelves and I don't care.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    Wonderful book on the Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Gives the reader an insight into his personal life, (relationship struggles) and how he groomed a band from Liverpool to become one of the biggest acts in the world. Andrew Robinson really catches the vibe of the sixties with primary red, black and white colors. The art reminded me a bit of the Beatles Rock Band game. Not sure how much is fact or fiction yet it was well done. Highly recommended for any Beatles junkie. I believe they are to mak Wonderful book on the Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Gives the reader an insight into his personal life, (relationship struggles) and how he groomed a band from Liverpool to become one of the biggest acts in the world. Andrew Robinson really catches the vibe of the sixties with primary red, black and white colors. The art reminded me a bit of the Beatles Rock Band game. Not sure how much is fact or fiction yet it was well done. Highly recommended for any Beatles junkie. I believe they are to make a film of the Fifth Beatle as well!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This graphic novel is not a biography of Brian Epstein's entire life per se, but a look at his time spent managing the Beatles. He is largely credited with making the band an international sensation, and the graphic novel shows that the success achieved did not mean Brian led a satisfied life. Admittedly, this is the first graphic novel I have ever read. I found it very enjoyable. The artwork is gorgeous, and the story compelling. I'm a huge fan of the Beatles, and recommend this graphic novel fo This graphic novel is not a biography of Brian Epstein's entire life per se, but a look at his time spent managing the Beatles. He is largely credited with making the band an international sensation, and the graphic novel shows that the success achieved did not mean Brian led a satisfied life. Admittedly, this is the first graphic novel I have ever read. I found it very enjoyable. The artwork is gorgeous, and the story compelling. I'm a huge fan of the Beatles, and recommend this graphic novel for any and all Beatles fans.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christina Merrill

    I really wanted to like this more than I did. I'm not a big graphic novel reader, but I am a Beatles fan, so I thought this would be interesting. The Good: The art is incredible. The styles shift from traditional comic book to pop-art, "mod" influenced to cartoonish and it's all enjoyable. The characters look like their real-life versions without looking like the artist is trying too hard. Some of the scenes are really good, like Brian and John in Spain and Brian with Colonel Tom Parker. Brian's I really wanted to like this more than I did. I'm not a big graphic novel reader, but I am a Beatles fan, so I thought this would be interesting. The Good: The art is incredible. The styles shift from traditional comic book to pop-art, "mod" influenced to cartoonish and it's all enjoyable. The characters look like their real-life versions without looking like the artist is trying too hard. Some of the scenes are really good, like Brian and John in Spain and Brian with Colonel Tom Parker. Brian's warm relationship with his family and his interactions with the Beatles are well portrayed. There are magical realistic elements that are strained at times, but overall they do work in this story. The Bad: I understand this is not supposed to be biographical but there are a lot of "creative interpretations" that I couldn't really get past. Poor Alistair Taylor has been replaced by a starry-eyed female assistant with the improbable name of Moxie. I admit I had a bit of a soft spot for her because as a 14 year old, I used to write cringe-inducing Beatles fanfic, and I had a female OC that was supposed to be Brian's assistant. At the same time, though, I don't really want to reread stuff that reminds me of my bad fanfiction days, especially the "unrequitedly loving a gay man" parts. Eeesh. Also, how can you write a story about Brian Epstein and leave out the Beatles getting rid of Pete Best? According to Pete, Brian made a pass at him at one point...that wasn't a tantalizing detail that might have been worked into the story? I didn't like that you didn't really get a feel for any of the individual Beatles and how they related to Brian, other than John. They come off literally as cartoon versions of themselves. I feel like the references to Brian's sexuality would have been a bit more veiled than they were in the story. As Brian hamfistedly tells John early on, homosexual acts are still a crime in Britain at the time. It seems to me there would have been more winking and nudging than, "good thing I'm not queer HAR HAR HAR" The story is short. So, so short. Brian finds the Beatles in Liverpool then BOOM they're in the US BOOM there's a reference to Rubber Soul BOOM Sgt. Pepper BOOM Brian is dying. It felt so rushed and I just wanted to see the story and the characters fleshed out a lot more. In short, needs more of the good and less of the bad. Overall, a sweet tribute to the life and work of an underappreciated man, but not something I think I'd come back to again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Peterhans

    The Fifth Beatle is the biographical story of the Beatles' first manager, Brian Epstein. Epstein was an interesting character, someone whose life was built on publicising the lives of his "artistes" (as he called them), while himself being forced to live a lonely, hidden life because of his homosexuality and drug dependence. The book isn't a full biography, not anywhere near it - it only tells Epstein's story in regard to the Beatles (can't be a complete surprise, what with the title). It emphasi The Fifth Beatle is the biographical story of the Beatles' first manager, Brian Epstein. Epstein was an interesting character, someone whose life was built on publicising the lives of his "artistes" (as he called them), while himself being forced to live a lonely, hidden life because of his homosexuality and drug dependence. The book isn't a full biography, not anywhere near it - it only tells Epstein's story in regard to the Beatles (can't be a complete surprise, what with the title). It emphasises his selflessness as a manager, forever seeing more possibilities for his clients (eventhough those clients, including Cilla Black, are only mentioned, never seen). There is room for his homosexuality, but it still feels underplayed, to me. In the end, the book is about Epstein's loneliness, and a great part of that (if not the greatest) is because of the extremely harsh anti-homosexual laws of 60s Britain. Epstein stays somewhat of an enigma, a distant figure. Maybe it would've helped to broaden the scope of the book, actually telling a full biography. At one point, Epstein calls his parents from New York, and a rather endearing conversation takes place - Epstein firmly back into the role of child. That's the only time his parents even come up. I also think the story could've been helped by showing all Epstein's other, non-Beatle clients - they could only help to emphasise his loneliness. The art is beautiful, showing a real painterly quality, with special attention to lighting. There are some sequences drawn in completely different styles, which work well. Overall it feels just a bit too shallow.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chad Jordahl

    Frustrating book. Its best parts merit five stars. Other parts are like a two. There are some beautiful pages, and yet there's a silly cartoon section in the Philippines, and most of the characters have goofy grins on their faces most of the book. At least one character, Moxie, was invented (an amalgam of several real people) which seems entirely unnecessary. Finish with a few fabricated deathbed hallucinations and... that's a wrap! Frustrating book. Its best parts merit five stars. Other parts are like a two. There are some beautiful pages, and yet there's a silly cartoon section in the Philippines, and most of the characters have goofy grins on their faces most of the book. At least one character, Moxie, was invented (an amalgam of several real people) which seems entirely unnecessary. Finish with a few fabricated deathbed hallucinations and... that's a wrap!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chad Wright

    I found this book on a bargain/used book shelf in a book store. I thought it looked interesting (being a pretty big Beatles fan) so I bought it for quite a bit less than the cover price, only later finding that it had been signed by the author. I enjoyed reading about the man that is often overlooked when one thinks about “the boys.” I thought the humor early on was a little forced and tried to sound as off the cuff as the movie A Hard Days Night had been. I feel like that is the only negative I I found this book on a bargain/used book shelf in a book store. I thought it looked interesting (being a pretty big Beatles fan) so I bought it for quite a bit less than the cover price, only later finding that it had been signed by the author. I enjoyed reading about the man that is often overlooked when one thinks about “the boys.” I thought the humor early on was a little forced and tried to sound as off the cuff as the movie A Hard Days Night had been. I feel like that is the only negative I can really give it. The artwork was fantastic and I felt the story was quite gripping. An all around success in my eyes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    A very quick and informative read about the man behind the Beatles. Brian Epstien. It is a graphic novel so it is a very quick read. (I read it one sitting) I learnt a lot about the iconic, Ringo, Paul, George, and John. The boys from Liverpool as Epstein called them. But the book was really about the back stage story of Epstein the manager's life And what a life he led. A very quick and informative read about the man behind the Beatles. Brian Epstien. It is a graphic novel so it is a very quick read. (I read it one sitting) I learnt a lot about the iconic, Ringo, Paul, George, and John. The boys from Liverpool as Epstein called them. But the book was really about the back stage story of Epstein the manager's life And what a life he led.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    #42 The story of the man who took The Beatles from a pub and club band and guided them to become one of the biggest musical groups the world has ever known. A story of ambition, battling personal demons and struggling to accept one's identity at a time and place when it was illegal to do so. #42 The story of the man who took The Beatles from a pub and club band and guided them to become one of the biggest musical groups the world has ever known. A story of ambition, battling personal demons and struggling to accept one's identity at a time and place when it was illegal to do so.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alain Gutierrez

    3.5 stars Amazingly gorgeous art with some decent writing about the mysterious genius of Brian Epstein, who some say is responsible for the Beatles' immense success. A must read for any fans of the Beatles or fans of Art in general 3.5 stars Amazingly gorgeous art with some decent writing about the mysterious genius of Brian Epstein, who some say is responsible for the Beatles' immense success. A must read for any fans of the Beatles or fans of Art in general

  30. 5 out of 5

    Adam Korengold

    Full disclosure: Vivek Tiwary was a college classmate of mine and a fellow member of the Philomathean Society. I very soon found out that we both loved Beatles music. While I settled into traditional pursuits afterwards, Vivek went to Broadway, never losing sight of his desire to tell the story of the fifth member of the Fab Four: their manager, Brian Epstein. It's a brilliant story beautifully rendered-even paying tribute to the marketing around the Beatles, transporting the reader to their era Full disclosure: Vivek Tiwary was a college classmate of mine and a fellow member of the Philomathean Society. I very soon found out that we both loved Beatles music. While I settled into traditional pursuits afterwards, Vivek went to Broadway, never losing sight of his desire to tell the story of the fifth member of the Fab Four: their manager, Brian Epstein. It's a brilliant story beautifully rendered-even paying tribute to the marketing around the Beatles, transporting the reader to their era. Well done.

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