What comes to our mind when we think of The Beatles? The seductive umbrella term “Beatlemania”, perhaps. Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison were four legends with unparalleled musical legacies and have become an inspiration to millions of music lovers and it's the bar they have set that every aspiring musician aims to reach. But how did these rebels get together and create a revolution in the musical world? Who got them together? How in the age of corporate Hollywood and amidst the clash of ideas did this young boy-band spring into existence? One name changed it all: Brian Epstein. The Fifth Beatle. The Unknown Beatle.
Published in 2014, “The Fifth Beatle” easily finds itself on the list as one of most loved graphic novels of today. Vivek Tiwary's brilliant retelling of one of entertainment's unknown greats is a must-read for all Beatles lovers. Without him, maybe we and in wider context, the world would never have had George Harrison champion our cause during Bangladesh's brutal Caesarian birth from Pakistan. On the cover of this emotionally charged graphic novel is the quote by Paul McCartney himself: “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” Penned by Tiwary and saturated by superbly realistic art by Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker, this graphic novel emanates from all sides as a masterpiece chronicling the life and times and yes, the mind, of the man behind one of the 20th century's greatest assets. The brilliant visuals and text go hand in hand in this artistic narrative. The characters' deep soliloquies and the intimate scenes all come aliveand as we flip the pages, we relive the birth and tribulations of The Beatles through the eyes of the one man who gave all he could to the world but received very little in return.
Epstein, born in Liverpool, was an outsider – a gay Jew in an increasingly anti-Semitic and homophobic world. The journey follows Epstein's tragic yet eventful life, from his stints in the army and the fashion world where he failed and was ostracised to the highly volatile music industry where he faced severe opposition. It also shows no matter how alone Brian might have been while battling his identities and health issues, he put his energy and trust to make The Beatles as they should be. He turned them into international superstars; believed in them when no one else did. He essentially created one of the most important music groups in history, and he did it all before he died at the young age of 32. In an emotional afterword, Tiwary pays tribute to his hero and through his gorgeously crafted graphic novel, we all live the fifth Beatle's tumultuous life.
The writer is a student at ESS Department, BRAC University.