Read Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles by Arne Bellstorf Online


Meet the Beatles . . . right at the beginning of their careers. This gorgeous, high-energy graphic novel is an intimate peek into the early years of the world's greatest rock band.The heart of Baby's In Black is a love story. The "fifth Beatle," Stuart Sutcliffe, falls in love with the beautiful Astrid Kirchherr when she recruits the Beatles for a sensational (and famous)Meet the Beatles . . . right at the beginning of their careers. This gorgeous, high-energy graphic novel is an intimate peek into the early years of the world's greatest rock band.The heart of Baby's In Black is a love story. The "fifth Beatle," Stuart Sutcliffe, falls in love with the beautiful Astrid Kirchherr when she recruits the Beatles for a sensational (and famous) photography session during their time in Hamburg. When the band returns to the UK, Sutcliffe quits, becomes engaged to Kirchherr, and stays in Hamburg. A year later, his meteoric career as a modern artist is cut short when he dies unexpectedly.The book ends as it begins, with Astrid, alone and adrift; but with a note of hope: her life is incomparably richer and more directed thanks to her friendship with the Beatles and her love affair with Sutcliffe. Author/illustrator Arne Bellstorf tells this tender story with stirring, romantic black-and-white artwork.Baby's In Black is based on a true story....

Title : Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781596439184
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles Reviews

  • Jo
    2019-01-05 09:12

    “Love me tender, love me true, all my dreams fulfilled. For, my darling, I love you and I always will”.I am ambivalent towards the Beatles.It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t love them.Throughout my life I seemed to have attracted Beatles fans as best friends. It’s like they flock to me. Whether it’s my friend who knows every single world to every single song and whose mum once nearly got arrested outside one of their gigs, to the friend who has her picture up in the pub a young Mr Lennon used to drink in (Ye Cracke on Hope Street, if you're interested), to the friend who I have bought, without fail, Beatles related birthday presents for the last four years. Some of my best memories involve the Beatles; dancing to "Twist and Shout" under the influence of one Appletini too many in my SU, spending the night in a Danish hotel room going through the Beatle’s back catalogue to try and find the song I was trying to think of (I’ve still never remembered which one it was I was trying to think of but my cousin and I did discover we knew all the words to "All You Need is Love"), waiting for the taxi by the Yellow Submarine statue outside John Lennon airport after a holiday with four of my best friends and, of course, singing ‘Hello, Goodbye’ at my housemate when she would ignore me and pretend not to want to play the “Let’s not do our dissertations, let’s just make cakes and watch Disney films!” game. I would be a fool not to appreciate the unsurpassable effect they have had not just on British music and culture, but on music and culture all across the world. Maybe it’s impossible to be ambivalent towards the Beatles. But even though I don’t love the Beatles, I am fascinated by them. So when I saw that there was a graphic novel about Astrid Kirchherr’s heartbreakingly short relationship with Stuart Sutcliffe and the Beatles’ early Hamburg days, I knew I wanted to read it immediately.And, I knew from the cover illustration alone that I was in for a treat. This book is glorious; both in story and in execution. Mr Bellstorf’s drawings were absolutely stunning and they perfectly captured the era. While I was reading this, I was instantly transported into 1960s Germany with all its smoke, girls in poofy skirts and cool make-up. The black and white tone (which reminded me of wax crayon, randomly) perfectly portrays the bitter-sweet tone of this story. Everyone knows how it’s going to end and yes, those last few panels broke my heart into tiny little pieces, but I loved how Mr Bellstorf didn’t let the harrowing ending overwhelm the entire story. Because Baby’s in Black is full of joy and love and passionate characters and it’s a celebration of a story that was cut too short and the start of one just begun. But yeah, those last few panels. Wow. Yes, this story is about those Northern lads, but it’s also a story of a wonderfully strong, fascinating and inspiring woman. And I hope it’s a story that’s never forgotten. I would recommend this book for Beatles fans. I know, I know. I really strained myself coming up with that one didn’t I?But I would recommend this book for Beatles fans. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a love story because to me this book is a love story. It’s a love story between two people, it’s a love story between two best friends, it’s a love story between a man and his passion for art, it’s a love story between a woman and her photography and it’s a love story between five boys and music. Saying that though, I’d pretty much recommend this book to anyone. I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley.

  • Mariel
    2019-01-03 01:53

    Black turtlenecks. That's what I've got on this. Okay, cigarettes dangling from arms that dangle from turtlenecks that are plucked out of someone's idea of 1960s European cool. Stick your arms inside the hidey hole sleeves and wait it all out. Smoke chains and hair tendrils of girl chic short 'dos and dont's of Hamburg night life in the 1960s. Hooting and clubs you aren't going to. Yawn. That's what I've got. Okay, stretch your arms over the backs of the movie theatre seat and you can't cop a feel because the other seat is a long time cold. Astrid favored black a lot. Black as a scene, black as something to do. Black as waiting, endlessly. Mysterious and contained. That's my barely contained sigh. I like my black as a blanket. Arne Bellstorf fancies black and white pixie pixels, clearly. They float over your bar stool.Boyfriend Klaus out the door. New boyfriend auditioning on stage with an instrument he can't play. (Murray on Flight of the Conchords called the bass "the dad guitar". Ha! Paul resumed the instrument and later, after the loss of Brian Epstein, the boys would rebel when he takes old Murray too seriously about being the dad.) Baby's In Black is a lot of the same look of Astrid looking up at Stuart Sutcliffe as he doesn't play the bass with The Beatles. Wait a minute! I thought they made Stuart turn his back so one would figure out he couldn't play. He must've had a terrific butt (Ringo wasn't around yet. We all know he followed the music from their bouncing buns like he was Helen Keller. Deaf from the screams, y'know). Anyway, it's hard work. The boys couldn't have played those marathon shows for those angry Germans without doping up on pills and booze. Stomach lining sic and it's all black and white drawings that don't pulse. Shirley Temple's good ship lollipop never had seas so rough. Wittle George was still the baby. Twenty-one, officers, really. Paul the devil on John's leather clad shoulder. John the devil on John's leather clad other shoulder. Too much burden to bear. Judy Garland had it so unwholesome. Stuart the art school buddy brought along. They weren't unlike Astrid and her former flame Klaus that way, I guess. Like minds clicking like a cuckoo clock on their same dots. A hard rock choir of little birdies (and plenty of chicks). Uniformed unisex unitards in unison. Bo-ring.Personally, I found Klaus's discovery of The Beatles more exciting. He HAD to take the reeperbahn night after night to see the boys in that rat trap cellar filled with all of those unimpressed Germans. They'd probably break into a fight if John didn't honestly and truly mean it. What if one of them sobered enough to discover that Stuart couldn't properly play out of his ass? Huh? What then? But what was he thinking bringing along the girl he liked to watch these cute guys on stage (not Paul. He was kind of rodenty). Astrid thought Stuart was much cuter than James Dean! Cue one of MANY same stills of Astrid looking up at Stuart. She is looking up at Stuart even when she is not looking up at Stuart. You could ask her what she was thinking and you wouldn't know even if she told you. Cool girls. I never know what a groovy girl would think about. My staring problem had a problem here. Nothing to look at!Astrid is the cool older sister who goes out every night without you. You want to come along. It's past your bed time. Get lost, runt! She falls in love without you. She plans her future without you. Sure, she was a pretty blond German girl. She always looked lovely in the photographs in Beatles books. You don't actually know her. She loved her mom. She wanted to make a life with Stuart and take photographs. I have no idea what made her tick. Author Arne Bellstorf worked closely with her in the making of his graphic novel. It can't be a case like anything made about The Runaways (a bunch of egos scrambling like roaches away from the light so that they, and only they, will look fab). She must have told him something. Made you look!The future planned their future without Stuart. He died of a brain hemorrhage. Causes unknown. (The popular myth goes that John Lennon kicked him in the head with his Beatle boots.) This just in.... Causes unknown.Astrid Kirchherr declined all offers for further Beatles association after 1964 because she was a friend to The Beatles and not the "mop tops' hairdresser". I gotta respect that (many made their bread and butter just for being at the right time and place when The Beatles were starting out). Personally, I never liked that look. It really isn't cute on child stars the world over. I'm sure many a disaffected and unemployed has-been cutie has cursed Astrid's name over empty containers of Rogaine. Barry Wom (doppelgänger to Ringo Starr in The Beatles spoof The Rutles, for the lay person. Astrid and Stu like the word doppelgänger. Me too) wanted to be a hairdresser. He would like to be two hairdressers. He hears their pain. It must be tough to stand beside the spotlight. I wouldn't know. Why not shine a different kind of light on things? Stage lights, dressing room lights, city lights, torch lights. There's more than just the stage. Who cares if Paul and John walk off into the sunset (for a time)? Baby's In Black wanted to carry the flame of Stuart and Astrid for a little bit longer. It could have done, a bit, like when Astrid wanders through those empty woods alone. Astrid in the woods with Stuart. Astrid seeing herself in those woods alone again, before Stuart is gone for good. Stuart could have been buried in a box made out of one of those pines, if they had seen it coming. Baby's In Black lost a little something because I did see it coming. Maybe something sweeter? Two kids who could barely speak each other's language being together. It's there, unfortunately dressed in cool black and cool sheets. Can I just say the art wasn't that good to sustain a love story? No slipping between these pages, no sir.I don't know, if she didn't want to be their hairdresser shouldn't a story about their love story had been about their love story? That might be silly to say because no one would be talking about them at all without The Beatles. Still, a love story is a love story. Astrid was what Stuart had. He dropped out out of art school in Liverpool when he was so close to finishing to follow John to be in a band. He felt shame about not being able to play. Paul was a bitch about it. You fucked up a note, you fucker! He lost his closeness with John to the pull of something John was so good at. John and Paul had the creative spark between them. Stuart had his own art. Before he died he was making more work than ever. He couldn't turn it off even as his own legs couldn't support his weight. He wanted to go to Paris. He loved Astrid. They were going to have a life. He died. I knew all of that. How did it feel? When they didn't know they were going to lose it all? There's one panel of them sharing an umbrella (I know that's Romantic because my ex didn't share his). Stuart tells Astrid he doesn't regret a single day they spent together. Baby's In Black should have been days. The art was turtlenecks and smoke. I could have been choking in a bar, looking into stone faces of Germans. Are they angry? Does the music move them? Are they going to dance or is that bottle going over my head? No idea. I don't even own a turtleneck. My neck is cold from craning to see Love.I do know that the Hamburg period was the Beatles favorite time. It was hard, it was grime under the nails. Scorch marks on the dirty cellar mental walls. They had each other, then. It felt like you could be there when reading them talk about in Anthology. That's love to me. Baby's In Black didn't have that. I'm not cool so I'm bitching (what do you expect? I don't own a single turtleneck, let alone turtlenecks for two). Wait for me? Fuck it, I'm sitting next to Klaus. I need it. Bring the bottle over my head. It is 1960. I'm in love. Music is my black blanket. Cover me.(view spoiler)[Yeah, that's about as close to some lovin' as I got.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Eunice Moral
    2018-12-24 03:48

    Beautiful and HeartbreakingThat ending crushed my heart. It was nice to know this part of history that not a lot of people know about. To be completely honest I didn't know about Astrid and Stuart or the original members of The Beatles for that matter, and this is the excellent book to explain the beginning of the legendary pop icon. Their struggles as musicians and the people behind their humble beginnings. I loved the fact that this graphic novel isn't solely focused on Astrid and Stu's love story but also the friendship between the members of The Beatles. The sadness in that ending was so potent I could almost feel the weight of grief on my shoulders. And I don't know if the fact that I know nothing about Astrid and Stu helped to alleviate the wave of sadness or worsen it, I'm glad I didn't know and at the same time cursing myself for not knowing their fate, I could have prepared myself, but I was left with unsettled emotions I cannot seem to shake off. Ugh. I don't know. I love it and hate it for betraying me. Haha! Okay enough with it! If you love The Beatles or just a curious human like I was, then go ahead and read it!.

  • Michelle
    2018-12-26 08:12

    This is an absolutely gorgeous, heartbreaking book detailing the love of Stu Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr. Stu was the real fifth Beatle, the original bass player of the band and best friend to one John Winston Lennon. During their time in Hamburg Stu and Astrid meet and fall in love, but this book is so much more than that. It is a tale of love, loss, friendship and a band at its beginning. “I think of her, but she thinks only of him, and though it’s only a whim, she thinks of him…”Astrid and Stu’s love may seem rather fast to some, and I guess since they could hardly speak each other’s respective languages then you may well be justified in thinking that. However, in each other they saw something; there was chemistry. They were both passionate artists and this was something they could share only with each other. In fact, Stu only joined the band because he could afford to buy a bass – he couldn’t play and would always keep his back to the audience. This book, however, is not just a love story of the romantic kind. It also shows the incredible bond and friendship The Beatles shared, in particular the bond between Stu and John. “She thinks of him, and so she dresses in black, and though he’ll never come back, she’s dressed in black…”The ending of this book is heartbreaking. I knew it was coming, but I still had tears in my eyes as I finished it. The simple way it was portrayed made it so much more poignant. Yet, as the synopsis says, Astrid’s life is richer for knowing The Beatles and loving Stu, so there is a touch of hope in this desperately sad and tragic ending. This book is so gorgeously illustrated; the drawings instantly brought the story to life. While I read this as a digital galley, I will certainly be buying the hardcopy. It will be a beautiful addition to my Beatles collection. I think it is also appropriate to tell you the song I had in my head the entire time I read this: Baby’s In Black. Also, I think I should share the song I think is beyond perfect for Astrid and Stu’s story. Take it away Mr McCartney…(blame the 70’s for the hair). Now, I just have one question to ask: can we please, please have a sequel for John and Cynthia?A copy of this book was provided by the publishers via Netgalley.comThis review and many more can be found at Maree's Musings.

  • Lisa
    2019-01-08 06:07

    Baby's In Black is the true story of Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr. If you haven't heard of Stuart Sutcliffe, he was in a little band called The Beatles. He was one of the original band members. The original line-up was Paul, John, George, Stuart and Pete Best(the drummer before Ringo). This was the line-up who went to play in Hamburg in the early 1960's, before they became big. This is where Stuart met a beautiful photographer named Astrid Kirchherr and they quickly fell in love and became engaged.I already knew this story because I'm a huge Beatles fan. I saw the movie Backbeat about 10 years ago, which is the same story as this, essentially(with slightly more emphasis on John and his relationship with Stuart, as well as Stuart and Astrid's love story). So, I knew the story but this was a lovely way to re-live it. It's very well done and the drawings are striking. Stuart Sutcliffe met John Lennon in Art College and John convinced Stuart to join his band. Once Stuart met Astrid, I think he met the other piece of himself and he realized that he wanted to be an artist and just live life with Astrid. Being in the band didn't really bring him much joy; he just wanted more time to paint and create all the things going on inside his head. So eventually, he told John he couldn't be in the band anymore. From Wikipedia: Sutcliffe's high spot was singing "Love Me Tender", which drew more applause than the other Beatles.Yoko Ono remembered that Lennon mentioned Sutcliffe's name very often, saying that he was "[My] alter ego ... a spirit in his world ... a guiding force".Stuart Sutcliffe also appears on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. Astrid Kirchherr was one of the first people to properly photograph The Beatles(well, without Ringo anyways!) This was one of her shots from when The Beatles were in Hamburg(again, the orignal line-up without Ringo):She was an incredibly talented photographer and artist. She also had a role in The Beatles famous "mop-top hairstyle", even if she won't take full credit for it. She says that it was a popular hairstyle in Germany but she cut Stuart's hair in that style, and later George asked for her to cut his hair. Astrid's friend Klaus later cut John and Paul's hair in Paris. Klaus Voormann became friends with The Beatles and even lived with George and Ringo while he was looking for work as an artist. He designed the cover of Revolver. He was also a session musician who played bass with John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Lou Reed, Carly Simon and Manfred Mann, to name a few. I really enjoyed this graphic novel because it showed the story in a new way. I can never really get enough when it comes to The Beatles. I thought Backbeat was a good movie and I think this is a great graphic novel. It doesn't have a happy ending but it's a true story full of very talented people. I really enjoyed it.

  • Paige
    2019-01-17 02:57

    If you follow me on Tumblr or Twitter, or have had the misfortune of interacting with me on any social capacity, then you know I have an obsession with this little band called The Beatles (sorry by the way to all the people I’ve tried to push their music on).Anyways, when I found this little graphic novel about Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe (he was the original Beatles bass player and Astrid was his fiancee/the one who inspired a lot of the Beatles’ early looks and a kick ass photographer) and nearly screamed. This graphic novel felt like a split between Persepolis and Maus, though obviously with a much less serious topic.I really enjoy these types of graphic novels where the art is more sketch based with some ink in there for contrast/depth. They’re easy to read and especially for an era like this where all the photographs were in black and white it read as if I were diving into a photo from that time period and taking a peek at their lives.The real question here is: should you read this if you’re not a Beatle fan? Maybe. If you’re a die-hard, overly obsessed Apple scruff like me, then absolutely pick this up. I finished it in about half an hour and was laughing and saying “aww” through the whole thing. Even if you’re a casual fan it’s a good read about the early “Teddy Boy” years when Ringo wasn’t even in the band and there were 5 “Silver Beetles”. But if you’re not a huge fan (what is wrong with you) then I’d say perhaps give this one a pass.You know, despite having no artistic or musical inclinations, I often want to chop off all my hair like Astrid and wear dark eyeliner, and go to little clubs to listen to rock and roll bands. Sigh, guess that’s a by product of me not being born in the right time period. Darn it.

  • Ryn McAtee
    2018-12-23 00:49

    Honestly, I found myself disappointed with this book. I'm quite familiar with the story of the Beatles in Hamburg, as well as the story of Stuart and Astrid, and I was hoping that this book could expand it, show it in a new light, whatever. No? Well, that's okay; even if I didn't learn anything new, it still would have been nice to see a good, literary interpretation of my favorite people. Except that was not delivered either. Most of the characters were quite two-dimensional (with the exception of Pete, who didn't even get that much), and even the "main" characters (John, Klaus, Stu and Astrid) could have been fleshed out much, much more. The actual story of all of these people and these events are fascinating; the author had so much to work with and he chose not to.

  • Raina
    2018-12-26 03:44

    Before I read this book, I had only the vaguest possible awareness of Astrid Kirchherr, or even of Stuart Sutcliffe. I knew there had been some changes in the lineup of the Beatles in their early days, of course - and I knew that they had played in Germany. I didn't realize how long they were playing in Hamburg, or the kinds of gigs they were playing.This graphic novel (translated from its original German form) chronicles the time between October 1960 and April 1962 while the Beatles were basically a house band for a divey bar in Hamburg. We find out that Kirchherr found out about the Beatles through her friend Klaus.As I read this, I found myself Googling images of Kirchherr, Sutcliffe, and the photos Kirchherr professionally took of the Beatles. It was a thoroughly educational experience. Bellstorf impressively captures the feel of bar gig in the depictions of "Dizzy, Miss Lizzy" performances. Thick lyrical lines run above illustrations of the band, the audience, particular members. It feels loud, which is a good trick for a comic. The art is exclusively black and white, in what looks like scribbly pencil. Even though Bellstorf is covering such an illustrious topic, it feels like a quiet, personal story. A love story. A tragic love story. Ponderous and private. It makes you feel the loss of what could have been. For the Beatles, for Astrid, and for the art world.

  • Jenna
    2018-12-24 07:58

    I received an advanced reader's copy through a Goodreads GiveawayAs stated, I got this gem of a book through a giveaway, and lucky me! I can't say that I would normally buy this type of book, but I would definitely be up for it after reading this one.This book tells the story of "the fifth Beatle", long before Ringo Starr ever entered the picture. However, this isn't the story of Pete, the drummer before Ringo, this is about Stuart who played the bass before Paul took over the role. The book takes place in Hamburg, Germany in the 1960's just before their big break, and although there is a lot of focus on the Beatles, the main story is about Stuart and a photographer named Astrid. The book follows their story and how they fell in love and does so in a very endearing way.The stories in the book are told through black and white comic strips, and although I was a bit weary of this when I read the book's general synopsis, it ended up adding so much texture to the story. This was a very quick read but enjoyable nonetheless.

  • Seth T.
    2018-12-25 07:02

    There's no two ways about it: adaptations of non-fictional stories are a tough beast to approach—and doubly so when the non-fictional account revolves about a tragic death. The trick, see, is the fact that anyone who's aware of history, of the story being unveiled, will know how the retelling will end. When we watched The Perfect Storm, most of us were well aware that George Clooney and Marky Mark wouldn't make it to the film's credits (save perhaps through some kind of treacle flashback montage). We may know how Milk, Zodiac, Schindler's List, and Downfall end—depending on how aware of twentieth century history and culture played out. So for the sake of the high percentage of those for whom the ending is spoiled years before ever seeing the based-on-a-true story,* authors of stories based on actual historical events must ground their narrative on something beyond the typical need to know What Happens Next. If surprise and anticipation are removed from the storytellers' arsenal, they need focus on something outside an envigourating plotline. Certainly, plots are still valuable—most true-to-life stories are interesting because of how they surprise us in their extraordinariness—but that's not all they can rely upon. It's kind of like how thrillers that rely wholly on their game-shifting story twist suffer in terms of rewatchability.Instead, in historical adaptations, we look for things like ambitious character portraits, fascinating authorial technique, cinematic flourish, or some kind of thematic framework to add meaning to the whole enterprise. Maybe even some kind of historical fabrication to change the story's ending entirely (a la Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds). In any case, the author's got to make it so that an audience's knowledge of the finale won't be related at all to the power of the story. So then, what does Baby's in Black offer, being a recountment of the ill-fated Stuart Sutcliffe and the Beatles' time in Hamburg?First an excursis. Because I'm like that.I'm a late-comer to the Beatles party. I hit kindergarten in the late '70s, had a hippie for a father (he still retains the remnant long hair and beard), and was exposed to a fair amount of classic rock. Still, despite understanding that the Beatles were a Big band (like the New Kids, right?), I remained pretty thoroughly unaware of their body of work. By junior high, I had figured out that the Beatles were responsible for "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." By high school, when I was waist-deep in Metallica and Motorhead, I had heard stodgy churchgoers—who evidently feared the pernicious influence of rock'n'roll—remark in solemn tones that John Lennon had declared the Beatles more popular than Jesus. I had a hard time seeing the I-wanna-hold-your-hand band being in the same league of perniciousness as Motorhead, who sang about Orgasmatron, but what did I know.** Finally, in college I heard some Sergeant Pepper's while working at a restaurant that had the album installed in its jukebox—this was where I discovered that the Beatles did that whole I-am-the-walrus bit.Pitiful, right? In fact, I wasn't to come to realize my interest and enjoyment in the Beatles until a particular videogame was released a little while years back. My wife and I, coming off a couple years of enjoying Guitar Hero, discovered Rock Band and enjoyed the division of labours allowed by the game. The only problem was that while I knew most of the songs featured, my wife didn't. Call it a lapse in her education*** or call it serendipity—the result was that when the Beatles edition of the game was released, we jumped on the opportunity because our distinct musical educations filled in each other's gaps. She was a fan and would finally be able to take real joy in the Rock Band experience. Because it's my way, the day after we first played the game, I spent an afternoon googling all their songs—so that I'd be able to sing along passably well. That led, obviously, to becoming a fan. And that new-found fan's interest led me to read their band's history, as related on Wikipedia. So yes, by the time I picked up Baby's in Black, I was aware of Sutcliffe and Astrid and Klaus and the bare bones of what went on in Hamburg. I was looking for something that would take what I already knew and do something special with it. Baby's in Black succeeds wildly.Apart from relating what in many ways is a doleful tale (the book is titled after the Beatles' song, "Baby's in Black," a song about Astrid Kirchherr mourning for the departed Sutcliffe), Arne Bellstorf's adaptation creates a lively mise-en-scene, filled with breathing characters whose lives, dreams, and hopes are affixed to reality without becoming sentimentalized. This last part may be the book's chief charm—that a book principally founded on unfulfilled longing could avoid sentimentalization is mark of distinction. It would have been easy for Baby's in Black to play to manipulation; that the book remains honest throughout is to Bellstorf's credit.Baby's in Black is told through Astrid's eyes. It is more her story than Sutcliffe's. And while Sutcliffe may fill the principal male role, as the object of her attentions, John, Paul, George, and Klaus feature only as supporting figures, filling the background and painting a raucous sort of peoplescape over which the story's romance blooms. Pete Best flits through the book almost entirely unseen and Ringo was not yet a part of history. Still, for all these small parts, Bellstorf does well in choosing these sidemen's character moments and gives the reader a sense of who these clowns were during the Hamburg era.[Oh John—you cad.]Visually, Baby's in Black develops its story through wonderful cartooning. The powerful black-and-white drawing helps underscore how indelibly this historical moment will carve itself into Astrid's life. While Sutcliffe admits an affinity for the colour red in his art, Astrid prefers black. For this, it's fitting that her tale should be told without colour—save for an appropriate dash of red text on the book's cover on the US edition.**** Despite the book's cartoony character designs, the figures' simplicity never threatens to diminish the story. Bellstorf conveys almost the whole of the burgeoning romance in a series of looks that pass between the eyes. We are allowed to see so much in such simple line gestures.The writing, translated, functions perfectly. It's always difficult to tell where to pin responsibility for a translated text, but whether on Bellstorf or on his interlocutor, the English version is a success. The words conveyed suit the story, mixing appropriately the melancholy, joviality, and beauty of life. Perhaps the most powerful moment of Baby's in Black occurs in a segment needing no translation, being wholly conveyed through appropriate punctuation. My one struggle with the book, perhaps, is in its choice of text-type for the word balloons. I don't know what was present in the original, but at least in this US edition, dialogue plays out in a sans-serifed font. It's not as unsuitable as a roman font would have been, but it still feels ungainly and unfairly austere. But with such an enjoyable work, this is a single small complaint.I have been previously unaware of Bellstorf's work as a cartoonist, but Baby's in Black has made me interested in what other books he may have produced. I have not yet checked, but I hope there are many. And I hope they are even half as enjoyable as Baby's in Black. I can't think of how best to compliment this story, so perhaps this sentiment will suffice: that I want to read more from this creator.Notes* Now that I think about it, this probably goes the same for Nicholas Sparks stories (at least according to popular legend) and movies about dogs (dogs in drama never live and dogs in comedies will probably be injured but narrowly survive).** I also have a hard time seeing how Jesus in 1960 could possibly have been more popular than the Beatles, so it's likely that however great Lennon's hubris, he spoke accurately. *** Says the guy who didn't know the Beatles.**** I prefer the German edition's cover but really do think the First Second edition's use of red is appropriate given some of Sutcliffe's statements about the colour included in the book.________________[Review courtesy of Good Ok Bad]

  • Mark
    2018-12-24 07:12

    "Then these five musicians slowly shuffled onto the stage. No one in the crowd was paying them any attention. They were messing around and didn't seem particularly nervous before their set. They were all dressed the same, in cheap jackets, tight flannel trousers, and high, pointy buckled shoes. They looked very odd.The bassist made me think of James Dean. He work dark sunglasses the whole time and stood completely still on stage. One of the other guitarists looked like he'd just turned fifteen. I didn't understand a word they were saying, but they were having fun."This fantastic graphic biography details the early days of the Beatles, when they played seedy clubs in Hamburg. Specifically, the novel follows the brief and tragic love affair between Stuart Sutcliffe, the group's original bass player, and Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer. Told through gorgeously-drawn black-and-white panels, the novel doesn't present any information that any hardcore Beatles fan doesn't already know, but it frames the story of Sutcliffe and Kirchherr in a way that adds new depth and dimension to the "fifth Beatle," and the woman who would be his muse.

  • First Second Books
    2019-01-18 03:00

    We love this book!First love, music, The Beatles -- what more can you want out of a book? Especially when The Beatles are, as Bryan Lee O'Malley said, "the most adorable Beatles ever." Arne Bellstorf's art really brings the first days of the band to live in a charming and wonderful way.

  • Ω†ß Folk Horror Baby ߆Ω
    2018-12-31 01:51

    Before I say any of this I want to mention thatI would still say I really like this book.honestly I would probably still buy it. You can take my rating with a grain of salt, I'm struggling to pin down my feelings toward it.The concept is fantastic. Pre-fame Beatles, artists and all the struggles that come with the reality of a beginning artist. But somehow it doesn't deliver. There were many things that I the characters only mention that I would have been far more interested in seeing than anything that was in the actual book. There are a lot of time skips that aren't signposted, so it feels as if you have missed a few pages. Stuff that ought to be important is skipped too, you never see the build up of Stuart and Astrid's connection.

  • Gretchen Alice
    2019-01-10 00:44

    Baby's in Black is the sweet and simple love story between Stu Sutcliffe, the original bassist for the Beatles, and Astrid Kirchherr, a photographer and early friend of the Fab Four. The graphic novel, done in moody blacks and whites, practically spills over with youth and music and longing. I found it could have used a tad more cohesion in the story and sometimes the boys looked too much alike. However, I loved the focus on Astrid.

  • Helen
    2019-01-10 01:47

    Quiet and dark, with just enough detail in the panels and in the story to keep you going, fill in the lines for yourself about what Astrid and Stu's life together must have been like in Hamburg when the other boys went back to Liverpool. Are there storylines u would have liked to have filled in a little more? Yes of course. Do I feel like the love story, which is what we're all here for anyway, loses out because we don't know those details in this particular book? No. Quick read, well illustrated, doesn't tell anything a die hard Beatles fan doesn't already know, but tells it beautifully.

  • Tyler Kroon
    2019-01-14 05:44

    A tender, true story about Astrid, a German photographer who befriended the Beatles during their early years, influenced much of their work, and fell in love with their bass player before he left the band and passed away soon after.

  • Zippy
    2019-01-02 06:03

    If you're even remotely interested in the Beatles, you'll find this bit of history interesting.

  • Suzanne
    2018-12-24 06:08

    This was assigned reading for me from my 16 year old, Beatles fan daughter. The sweet, charming, hopeful and sad story of the very young Beatles in Hamburg, and especially of the relationship between Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe.

  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    2019-01-02 03:48

    You can probably tell that I am a huge music fan. Well, what you may not know is that I grew up a child of the 60s/70s so far as musical taste goes. Until sixth grade, I didn't really have a conception of 'modern music,' because I listened to what my parents listened to: oldies CDs and the oldies radio station, which tragically went out of business some time in high school. Although my tastes have diversified, I will always have a soft spot for music of that time period, and some of it will always be a favorite. Primary among my favorite bands, oldies or not, are The Beatles. Thus, upon spying this graphic novel about The Beatles in NetGalley, I just had to have it, and First Second was kind enough to approve me.The cover is a bit misleading, though. The marketing makes this appear to be more about The Beatles than it actually is. The real story that the graphic novel is telling is that of the romance between Stuart Sutcliffe, bassist for The Beatles during the time when they were playing in Germany, and Astrid Kirchherr, a photographer. Reading real life love stories is always so charming, although they are not as neat and happy as fictional ones.Now, I know I said that this isn't ABOUT The Beatles, but there is still so much to be learned about their early days in here. As a fan who doesn't research music history much, I found those details fascinating. The Beatles were implicated in a fire in Hamburg! Weird, right? One thing I learned, which I should have known, was that The Beatles smoked constantly. I mean, obviously I knew that, but, in my mind, no one smokes, so that reminded me why I would not want to go back in time and hang with The Beatles.The one thing that I did not, personally care for was the artwork. It's very crude and simplistic, and just did not jive with me at all. However, I do imagine that Kirchherr would approve. Art is a very personal taste, so you should really take a look for yourself. It's just like what you see on the cover.I wanted to know more and to test the accuracy, so I consulted my good friend Google and found this awesome article from the Daily Record, which pretty much sums up this period in the history of The Beatles, who thankfully changed their name from The Quarrymen. So cool! Also, I would recommend doing a search for Astrid and The Beatles, because you can see a bunch of pictures of her and pictures she took, which is just amazing.A graphic novel weighing in at just 200 pages, this is a really easy read. Beatles fans, you should definitely check this out!

  • Richie Partington
    2019-01-06 01:48

    Richie’s Picks: BABY’S IN BLACK: ASTRID KIRCHHERR, STUART SUTCLIFFE, AND THE BEATLES by Arne Bellstorf, First Second, May 2012, ISBN: 978-1-59653-771-5“And though he’ll never come back, she’s dressed in black”-- Lennon/McCartney, “Baby’s in Black” (written about Astrid’s mourning over Stuart’s sudden death)“’He’s got something…Something different from the others…I just wish he’d take off those sunglasses.’” (Astrid talking about Stuart.)Anyone from my generation who was even a fraction as obsessed with The Beatles as was I will be familiar with the name Stuart Sutcliffe. Anyone from my generation, or anyone from a more recent generation who has read Elizabeth Partridge’s amazing, Michael Printz Honor book, JOHN LENNON: ALL I WANT IS THE TRUTH, knows the basics of the tragic story whereby The Beatles’ original bass player, the painter who fell in love with German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, left the band to remain with her in Hamburg and pursue his art, and then died suddenly at age twenty-one when an aneurysm in his brain burst.Utilizing extensive input from Astrid Kirchherr who, herself, contributed to creation of the image portrayed by The Beatles in the early sixties, German cartoonist Arne Bellstorf’s BABY’S IN BLACK is the graphic novelized love story of Astrid and Stuart. Originally published in Germany, the translated version is now available here thanks to the good folks at First Second.Spanning the time period from October 1960 through April 1962 (more than a year before my cousin Pam first played me “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on her little phonograph), we are set down amidst the early days of the band’s extended stay in Hamburg when they were “living in a back room in the Bambi cinema” and “the only place they can wash themselves is in the public toilets there.”A guilty pleasure of a pop history love story, this will be a good choice for those adolescents who, as with my kids, were raised with lots of Beatles songs. Richie PartingtonRichie's Picks http://richiespicks.comBudNotBuddy@aol.comModerator

  • Nicola Mansfield
    2019-01-18 07:58

    Reason for Reading: I love this publisher. I love graphic biographies. I love The Beatles.The publisher's summary does a more than adequate job of describing what this book accomplishes, even to the point of telling you how it ends. Of course, this is a true story and many will know the ending before they start to read anyway, but it would be nice for them to have left that off for the few of us new to this part of The Beatles' history. I knew about Pete Best and was vaguely aware of there being a friend of John's in the group at the beginning but had no idea of the Stuart Sutcliffe story. This was an interesting tidbit for me to add to my Beatles trivia. The story is bittersweet, sad and lovely all at the same time. Stuart seems to have been a very nice guy. The Beatles may have been quite a different group if Stuart hadn't decided to follow his dream to be a painter, but then time was against him from the start and we will never now what he may have accomplished.This book is very much about Stuart, his love Astrid and the German friend Krauss. The Beatles themselves are background characters and used for there place within the tragic romance of Stuart and Astrid. Hardly a John and Yoko affair, everyone was happy for the young couple and wished them the best. The group was just hitting the ground running at the time Stuart left not leaving any time for sadness, regrets or bad feelings. This book will not really tell you much more about The Beatles than you already knew but it will open up a small hardly known touching story that shaped the lives of The Beatles in their very young beginning days (George is only 17 at this time).

  • Kricket
    2019-01-13 00:48

    upon discovering this would be published: !!!!!!!!!!!!upon reading: disappointing. i love the beatles and i love comics so i was hoping this would be explosively awesome and make all my dreams come true. but it was only pretty okay.1. i love the cover art and the style of bellstorf's work. i really do. but then, reading the book, it turns out that the characters on the cover are the only characters he can draw. so almost all of the male characters look alike. i kept going "is that klaus, or stu? ah yes, klaus' chin has a slightly different line...oh wait, nevermind. that's george." there's also not a lot of movement to the drawings- like he's positioning paper dolls in different spots. so, while i would very much enjoy a print of bellstorf's work, say, on my a comic it's not quite the perfect fit.2. the dialogue. this was translated from german so it's hard to say where that went wrong. it's clunky and wooden, like "i am going to say thing thing now that will advance the plot." there's no juice, no passion. and this is a great love story!anyway, i'm still giving it 3 stars because looking at the cover makes me so happy and because i was so excited when i bought the book at TCAF. yep, that's irrational. but the innards are a solid 2.

  • Liz
    2019-01-18 01:11

    I was pretty excited to pick up this graphic novel about Stuart Sutcliffe "The Fifth Beatle", and his relationship with photographer Astrid Kirchherr. I, like almost every single other person on god's green earth, love The Beatles, and I liked the looks of the artwork. It has a very cute '60s feel, but is also very dark - probably partly in part to Astrid's love of the color black. The darkness also fits the sort of 1960s beatnik Germany setting.What made the book fall flat for me, unfortunately, was the lack of clarity in the artwork. The male characters are very difficult to distinguish from each other, particularly Sutcliffe and Klause. It's hard to follow when we change settings and zoom forward in time. The writing is simple, and that's fine - but the ending is incredibly abrupt (I think readers need closure from things as well as the people who actually experience said things! haha)(since it's a true story about a very famous band, I feel a little funny having just been vague about the circumstances of the ending, but I actually didn't know that was how things turned out so I won't spoil it for anyone else who only knows some of the Beatles story.)Big Beatles fans might really enjoy this book, but I think it is hard to follow, and was a little disappointed.

  • Sara Thompson
    2019-01-22 01:03

    Wow what a sad and wonderful history. I picked Baby’s in Black because it had something to do with the Beatles (my family are huge fans). This is the story of Stuart Sutcliffe who was the original bassist for the Beatles when they started in Germany in 1960. Stuart did not consider himself a great musician but followed for the sake of his friend John Lennon. He was soon discovered by Astrid Kirchheer. They fell in love and she nurtured the artist that he was meant to be. Sadly, Stuart had an underlying illness that the doctors were unable to determine which resulted in his death. The beauty of the story is in the telling of their relationship. Drawn in black and white, this graphic novel has a haunting yet light touch. You can’t help but feel for both Astrid and Stuart who never were able to marry. His future was so bright and yet was not meant to be. That did not mean that he didn’t influence the lives of others who went on to have amazing careers. This is a must have for any Beatles fan even though it does not focus on them exclusively. The story is simple and fairly modest making it suitable for young fans.

  • Mercedes Flowers
    2019-01-09 06:01

    Also, if I had a dollar for every panel in which the characters are smoking, I would have 239433423 dollars.And that's totally ok, because it's definitely part of the absolute coolness that is "Baby's in Black." I have to admit – when I first started flipping through the book, I was slightly disappointed. When I had read "graphic novel" in the description, I was not expecting the style of art that Bellstorf uses. But that disappointment was quickly dashed away upon my beginning the story.SO well written. SO SO well written, and all the more interesting because it's true. Like a few others that have reviewed the book, I am not a DIE HARD Beatles fan. I have their hits on my iTunes, I enjoy them occasionally and I appreciate the cultural phenomenon that they were. But this book takes that appreciation to a whole new level. I don't want to give away plot details, but suffice it to say that this book delivers from start to end. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good story.

  • Kelly
    2019-01-06 06:06

    I've never thought about the Beatles before they were "The Beatles," nor did I know about the influence of Astrid Kirchherr or the almost-a-Beatle Stuart Sutcliff. But I didn't necessarily find it a great book in and of itself -- the art was okay, but there was little character development, which made connecting to the story and the tragic turn at the end difficult. Likewise, NOT being a big Beatles fan, I didn't necessarily come to the story with enough to understand the significance of Astrid nor Stuart. In other words, it needed just a little more, as it was almost too stripped down.

  • Ritsky
    2019-01-04 06:47

    4 stars because I'm partial towards The Beatles. <3As a Beatles fan, it is very exciting to read the chronicle of "pre-Beatles" era (okay, maybe more like the "German era") being told in graphic novel format. The book focuses on Stuart and Astrid's story so some details - like the Beatles' conflict with the club owner's in Germany, for example - is not explored too deep.

  • Samantha
    2018-12-23 03:56

    I liked the art. But graphic novels need to have a good balance of dialogue and illustration telling the story and I thought there was too much dialogue and not enough illustration. It was also kind of hard for me to tell the men apart. I found the story to be informative about the Beatle's early career but otherwise kind of boring.

  • Edward Sullivan
    2019-01-20 03:45

    Love this graphic novel story about the romance between German photographer Astrid Kirchherr and the legendary "fifth Beatle," Stu Sutcliff who died in 1962. This is also a good portrait of the Beatles in Hamburg before they hit the big time.

  • lucyblack
    2019-01-20 07:49

    sweet love story of original indies and the 1960s hamburg scene. I liked the tenderness and creative passion. sometimes it was abit hard to tell the blokes apart but other than that the art was lovely.