Preview–Fifty years later there’s something new for fans of The Beatles

No, The Beatles aren’t merely the band Paul McCartney played in before he joined Wings.  The #1 band of all time released its animated musical fantasy comedy movie Yellow Submarine 50 years ago, and less than a year later, in January 1969, the band followed up with an album of the same name.  Thanks to a never ceasing fan-base and a creator who is as big a fan as anyone, we all can embark on a new voyage of the song-filled submarine from a port near you beginning next week.

We first previewed this 50th anniversary project here at more than a year ago.  It’s the first official illustrated adaptation of The Beatles’ famous animated film.  Directed by animation producer George Dunning, the film received widespread acclaim from critics and Beatles’ fans, generating its own cult following, years of British cosplay, and inspiring generations of animators.  The adaptation will be written and illustrated by Bill Morrison, writer and artist from The Simpsons comics.

You will hear the voices of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr as you read the The Beatles Yellow Submarine graphic novel.

So get ready to revisit Pepperland and the Sea of Time, Sea of Science, Sea of Monsters, Sea of Holes, Sea of Nothing, and the Foothills of the Headlands.  And beware the Blue Meanies.

Here is a big preview courtesy of Titan Comics, followed by an interview with Morrison:

Here’s an interview with writer/artist Bill Morrison on the Yellow Submarine graphic novel:

Tell us about your first contact with The Beatles’ music.
When I was about five, the first record album that I owned was a record of Alvin and the Chipmunks singing The Beatles’ hits.  Then, like everyone else in America, I saw The Beatles on TV on The Ed Sullivan Show, and we all went nuts.  We knew it was a big deal.  I remember, growing up, having Beatles music on in the house all the time.  Between my brother and my two older sisters, we had the whole catalog.  It was probably in the ’70s that I saw Yellow Submarine on television for the first time.

What did you enjoy about Yellow Submarine when you first saw it?
I think the design aspect of the characters and the look of the whole movie.  Growing up, when I was about 10 in the early ’70s, I really became a fan of (U.S. pop artist) Peter Max.  I know he had nothing to do with the film, but there was definitely a similarity in style.  I was really taken by that look.  When I first saw Yellow Submarine, I was really taken by the way it flowed and the design of everything.

What gave you the idea to adapt Yellow Submarine into a comic?
When the film was nearing its 30th anniversary in ’97 or ’98, I was given the opportunity to create an adaptation for Dark Horse Comics.  I was really excited and I jumped at the chance.  Originally, it was going to be a 48-page adaptation.  I did an initial cover and 25 pages but then had to stop as the deal fell through. But now I’m finally able to pick it up again.

How did you approach adapting the film into a graphic novel?
I needed to take advantage of the graphic medium that it’s being presented in.  I started asking myself, “what do comic books and print have that they can’t really do in a film?  I hit on the idea of really making each page look like a poster — like psychedelic blacklight posters that I used to have all over my walls in the ’70s.  I thought I could make these pages graphically stimulating.  So I started designing the pages with that in mind — with that graphic poster sensibility — and I got really excited about it.  People who have seen the pages — fans of the original movie — have really liked it and thought “he’s doing something different with it.”

How do you think the Yellow Submarine film has aged over the years?
It’s definitely a film of its time but it does hold up.  You can watch it and it doesn’t feel dated — especially if you have a nice crisp print of it.  The colors are vibrant, the music’s great, the animation is wonderful.  It definitely holds up really well.  I’m watching it over and over again for the graphic novel adaptation and it’s just fun — it doesn’t get old. There’s always so much to look at. I think it’s brilliant.

Look for Bill Morrison’s adaptation of The Beatles Yellow Submarine, a graphic novel arriving in comic book stores August 28, 2018.

C.J. Bunce

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