THE MUSIC IS GHOSTLY, OMINOUS; THE cartoon images blurred, troubled; the intertitles ("in the beginning... no one believed... until one man risked everything... on a dream") suitably portentous. As comic book promo videos go, a thing of sober importance; perhaps with some justification. For the first time in the retelling of the Beatles' story, their manager Brian Epstein will take centre stage, first in the form of Dark Horse Comics new full-colour, hardback 168-page graphic novel and, subsequently, in a Hollywood movie.
Written by Tony Award-winning Broadway theatre producer Vivek J. Tiwary (Green Day’s American Idiot opera, Mel Brooks’s The Producers), The Fifth Beatle promises to tell "the untold true story of the man who brought the Beatles to unprecedented stardom... an uplifting, tragic, and ultimately inspirational human story about the desire to leave behind a legacy, amidst the struggle to overcome crushing personal obstacles and insurmountable odds."
Visually, the artwork of Andrew C. Robinson, and Kyle Baker calls to mind to the mid-’60s style of Mad magazine cartoonist Jack Davis and Jamie Hewlett 's ’90s boutique cool. We're also promised a sequence that will emulate the style of the old Beatles King Features Syndicate cartoons of the 1960s.
The promo video also reveals an interesting note of off-stage melancholy to Tiwary's approach, a world of shadows, mirrors and side-lines, covering such controversial incidents as Brian and John Lennon's weekend in Spain, and the mystery surrounding the Beatles' manager's own death. The approach seems in no way throwaway or disrespectful to Epstein's memory.
Plans are already in place for Tiwary to write and produce a feature-film adaptation in collaboration with Sony/ATV, presumably with full access to the Beatles back-catalogue, plus the good will of the group and the Brian Epstein estate.
In the wake of Billy J. Kramer's recent campaign to have Brian Epstein inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame the rehabilitation of the late Beatles' manager's extraordinary life and career continues apace. The posthumous knighthood can't be far behind.