175. Baby's in Black by Arne Bellstorf

Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles by Arne Bellstorf. Translated by Michael Waaler (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 198
Ages: 18+
YA: 15+ with interest in real-life tragic romances (minor language & s*xual situations)
Finished: Jun. 26, 2012
First Published: May 8, 2012
Publisher: First Second
Genre: biography, history, 1960s, music, rock, celebrities
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "Klaus?" "You won't believe where I've just come from!"

Publisher's Summary: A fascinating, exhilarating portrait of the Beatles in their early years.

Meet the Beatles . . . right at the beginning of their careers. This gorgeous, high-energy graphic novel is an intimate peek into the early years of the world’s greatest rock band.

The heart of Baby’s In Black is a love story. The “fifth Beatle,” Stuart Sutcliffe, falls in love with the beautiful Astrid Kirchherr when she recruits the Beatles for a sensational (and famous) photography session during their time in Hamburg. When the band returns to the UK, Sutcliffe quits, becomes engaged to Kirchherr, and stays in Hamburg. A year later, his meteoric career as a modern artist is cut short when he dies unexpectedly.

The book ends as it begins, with Astrid, alone and adrift; but with a note of hope: her life is incomparably richer and more directed thanks to her friendship with the Beatles and her love affair with Sutcliffe. This tender story is rendered in lush, romantic black-and-white artwork.

Baby’s In Black
is based on a true story.

Acquired: Received a review copy from FirstSecond Books.

Reason for Reading: I love this publisher. I love graphic biographies. I love The Beatles.

The publisher's summary does a more than adequate job of describing what this book accomplishes, even to the point of telling you how it ends. Of course, this is a true story and many will know the ending before they start to read anyway, but it would be nice for them to have left that off for the few of us new to this part of The Beatles' history. I knew about Pete Best and was vaguely aware of there being a friend of John's in the group at the beginning but had no idea of the Stuart Sutcliffe story. This was an interesting tidbit for me to add to my Beatles trivia. The story is bittersweet, sad and lovely all at the same time. Stuart seems to have been a very nice guy. The Beatles may have been quite a different group if Stuart hadn't decided to follow his dream to be a painter, but then time was against him from the start and we will never now what he may have accomplished.

This book is very much about Stuart, his love Astrid and the German friend Krauss. The Beatles themselves are background characters and used for there place within the tragic romance of Stuart and Astrid. Hardly a John and Yoko affair, everyone was happy for the young couple and wished them the best. The group was just hitting the ground running at the time Stuart left not leaving any time for sadness, regrets or bad feelings. This book will not really tell you much more about The Beatles than you already knew but it will open up a small hardly known touching story that shaped the lives of The Beatles in their very young beginning days (George is only 17 at this time).


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