Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer/Pencils: Bill Morrison
Inks: Andrew Pepoy
Colours: Nathan Kane
Lettering: Aditya Bidikar
Release Date: August 28th 2018
“Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.”
What can you say about the Beatles? Arguably one of the greatest and most influential bands in the history of music, with a sound and impact that defines the 1960s. But one of the strangest things to come from the Beatles domination of the 60s would be their third feature film, the animated Yellow Submarine. Which begs the question, can a story which relied so heavily on the Beatles music and sound work in a medium of pages without a note to be heard, or is love all you need to enjoy this bizarre spectacle?
Once upon a time – or maybe twice, it doesn’t really matter – there was a place called Pepperland. A land where music, joy and love ruled. But the people of Pepperland had an enemy that hated music, joy and love. The dreaded Blue Meanies. To stop The Blue Meanies the people of Pepperland will have to turn to four men whose music inspires love, joy and peace without equal, The Beetles.
This is a strange comic to review. I mean, how can one review a comic based on Beatle’s music? The only way I found was to play the entire Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album while reading. And when you combine Bill Morrison’s wilfully inventive layouts with the Beatle’s distinctive sound the comic truly comes alive. The insane, trippy imagery of Andrew Pepoy and Nathan Kane brilliantly recreates the look and style of the 1968 film. The slightly ‘off’ skin colours and strange designs leaves you wondering who had the imagination for such a strange world.
The comic also uses Yellow Submarine’s strange nature to its advantage as we get some truly weird panel shapes and, at points, break of the fourth wall entirely. In fact, I think and I’m sure Yellow Submarine breaks half the rules of sequential art along the way. But this wilfully unconventional approach is what makes this book work so well. It’s so strange and challenges the limitations of its medium just like the film did 50 years ago.
In the end, forming a conclusion on this is quite difficult because as an adaptation it almost doesn’t work due to the fact that, on paper, you simply can’t turn a film about music into a comic with no sound. However, that constraint doesn’t stop this book as it decides to take the plot and story of Yellow Submarine and uses to challenge how the comic medium works in the same way the source material did. So in the end it does exactly what the original film did, making this a pretty darn successful adaptation.
If you like the Beatles or Yellow Submarine, then I’d suggest picking this up because just like the album and film this feels like an experiment in bringing new ideas to life. Pop on your favourite album by John, Paul, George and Ringo and experience the wonder of this strange work because in the end, to enjoy this… all you need is love.
[EXTENDED ARTWORK PREVIEW]
The writer of this piece was: Jonathan Mullen
Jonathan Tweets from @JonathanDMullen