by Arne Bellstorf
If you are a fan of the Beatles, then you will definitely want to pick up the graphic novel, Baby’s In Black. Through black and white drawings, Arne Bellstorf tells the story of the “Lost Beatle” Stuart Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe was the original bass player for The Beatles when they were starting out, playing seedy clubs in Germany in 1960. Sutcliffe is a fascinating part of The Beatles history, as he was also an accomplished artist and writer who chose to leave The Bealtes right before they made it big. While playing with The Beatles in a dive bar in Germany, Sutcliffe met Astrid Kirchhherr, a local photographer. Astrid also plays an important role in The Beatles history: she shot some of the most famous early portraits of The Beatles when they were in Germany, and are also some of the only photos that include Sutcliffe in the mix. Shortly after meeting, Stuart and Astrid fell in love. It was then that Sutcliffe decided that The Beatles were not for him. He wanted to stay in Germany with Astrid and focus on his painting. Tragically, though, Sutcliffe’s life was cut short when he died from a brain hemorrhage in 1962. He never had the chance to marry Astrid or to see how successful The Beatles would become.
This graphical novel really does justice to the story of Sutcliffe’s time with The Beatles and his romance with Astrid. The author, Arne Bellstorf, worked closely with Astrid to get details right and put the emotional punch in this story that only Astrid could provide. It is also a really great snapshot of the short time that The Beatles spent in Germany, playing wherever they could, right before they became uber-famous. Finally, the art in this book is pretty simple, but also really expressive. I think the style of drawing was my most favorite things about this graphic novel, and I am a huge fan of The Beatles so I loved getting a new insight to a story I know well. Here are a couple of examples of the art in Baby’s In Black: