Bill Morrison adapts the Beatles’ famous animated musical film for his graphic novel The Beatles Yellow Submarine.
Yellow Submarine, which debuted fifty years ago in 1968, was groundbreaking for its inventive psychedelic animation and colors; it was also an entertaining way for the Beatles to transfer their music into another medium. But Yellow Submarine had so much going for it visually that it was possible to forget the music and just enjoy the film as a fun, somewhat bizarre cartoon adventure.
That’s exactly the approach Morrison takes in this adaptation. Possibly due to issues with publishing rights, the film’s songs aren’t included in the book, so fans who remember a particular bit of dialogue leading in to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” or “When I’m Sixty-Four” might be surprised at the absence of those lyrics. But otherwise, Morrison remains faithful to the movie, with the Blue Meanies who invade Pepperland trying to destroy the music, beauty, and joy therein, and the Fab Four answering a call for help.
Morrison’s art is often stunning—as he explains in the book’s foreword, he set out to make “each page look like a poster.” The graphic novel’s visuals don’t morph and move, of course, but they’re still quite impressive to gaze upon. Additionally, the graphic novel format allows one to linger on the clever script, especially the amusing utterings of Jeremy, the “Nowhere Man,” along with many successful one-liners by the Beatles themselves.
The Beatles Yellow Submarine is fun for readers of any age; for Beatles fans, it’s a no-brainer.
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