The Beatles. Yellow Submarine (TItan, £26.99)
I know I am not alone in thinking that The Beatles are one of the most-overrated bands ever. (I also know some people will take offence at that – apologies, but get over it). They made some great pop records early on, and I like the later music such as The White Album where they are starting to fall apart and the musical and social dynamics get interesting. But I probably came to them way too late for them to sound new or innovative, and I don’t have a lot of time for revolutionaries such as John Lennon, who apparently had a room-size freezer wardrobe to keep his fur coats in.
In their lifespan, The Beatles made several films, mostly trying to be ‘zany’ in a half-arsed British comedy way. Yellow Submarine was the odd one out as it was a cartoon musical, with The Beatles only providing songs. Actors voiced ‘the fab four’ as their alter-egos visited a number of seas in the submarine of the title, and fought off blue meanies and free Pepperland. It got good reviews, and kept a million children occupied singing the endless title track, but never really worked on TV where most people I suspect saw it.
But now, it is a graphic novel; and I think it’s finally found it’s rightful place. Bill Morrison, the current editor of Mad magazine has written and illustrated the book, and digital colour printing technology means it’s a glorious psychedelic 128-page trip which draws heavily on both the original film and 1960s poster art in general. Morrison isn’t afraid to subvert traditional comic frames or overindulge in fantastic double page spreads as and when required. This is contemporary comic art at its finest and most sophisticated.