[Saturday Reads] Paying Homage to the Gods of Rock and Roll through Comics in “The Beatles in Comic Strips”

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Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just booklove miscellany in general.

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I believe I was trolling through Brainpickings.org looking for graphic novels to feature for our current reading theme when I chanced upon this title, and immediately reserved it from our library.

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The Beatles in Comic Strips

Compiled and Curated byEnzo Gentile and Fabio Schiavo
Published by: Skira, 2012
Book borrowed through inter-library loan. Book photos taken by me.

From the title, I expected a memoir of The Beatles told in “comic strips” as the title indicated, but I got something else instead. This book is more like a homage to the gods of rock-and-roll as portrayed in comics. Enzo Gentile (lecturer at the Catholic University of Milan) and Fabio Schiavo (professional journalist and collector of comic strips featuring the Fab Four in the world) have fastidiously gathered and compiled comic strips that pertain to the Beatles from various parts of the globe. The book is divided into decades from 1960-1970:

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until 2001-2010, with the last few pages devoted to John Lennon. It is not a book that you read so much as appreciate for the massive amount of research that Gentile and Schiavo have collected over the years to put this book together. Apparently, the very first appearance of the Beatles in comic form could be traced back to Boyfriend, published in England back in 1963.

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Then there are random appearances in various forms – either the Beatles being alluded to or their songs or their trademark poses – evidenced in comics.

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There are no accompanying narratives, explanations, translations to these comics – except for the short Introductory notes put together by Gentile and Schiavo, and the two-page timeline per decade that the authors have put together signaling Beatles Highlights of that ten-year period. The reader would just have to piece all these together in their minds. What this book lacked in coherence, it made up for somewhat in these huge portraits as seen in comics – not clear as well whether copyright has been granted by each of these individual comics publishers:

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What I especially liked though is the portrayal of what the world would be like with rock stars as government leaders and the lyrics of Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try running through my head:

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As I said, this is a book to most likely ooh and aah over, as one marvels at how the Beatles remained whole in cartoon strips long after they have disbanded and how their memory is honoured through strips like these:

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Let me end this feature with one of my favourite Beatles songs. Enjoy!

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