Just when you thought nearly every aspect of The Beatles’ career has been covered in a book, a new book called The Beatles in Comic Strips is released. The authors, Enzo Gentile and Fabio Schiavo, are both journalists from Italy and the book was originally published by Skira, an Italian publisher. The US and Canadian editions are distributed by Rizzoli Publications.
The concept of compiling a vast array of comic strips from the last 50 years that depict The Beatles seems like a great idea for a book. Unfortunately, this 240-page book with color reproductions of comic book covers and comic strips leaves a lot to be desired.
For starters, half of the comic strips are in foreign languages, which makes about half the book inaccessible for English readers. Also about half of the comics include only a small mention of The Beatles leaving them unmemorable in this reviewer’s opinion.
As a result, only about 25% of the comics included have substantial Beatles content in English, and in many cases, the entire comic strip is not visible. This is due to the fact that a small graphic of the cover of each comic book is placed right on top of the actual comic strip. Many times, as you’re reading the comic strip, the full story of the strip is unreadable since one of the captions is covered by a picture of the cover.
Editorially, a decision was made to split the book into sections according to decade. The way the authors mark a new section in the book is to include a photograph which goes along with each decade. However, these photographs are usually not of The Beatles, and don’t really make sense to be included in the book. For example, in the 1960s section, a picture of Jane Fonda as Barbarella from 1967 is inserted. A picture of The Beatles from 1967 would make more sense to insert at this location.
Also, it took a while to figure out that the authors are only showing one sample page from each comic book. That means even if the comic strip story went on for multiple pages, you only get to read one page. As a result, the reader is left feeling incomplete by not being able to finish reading the entire comic story.
While it would be a great contribution to the Beatles publishing archive to have a compilation of Beatles comic strips, this book just doesn’t do the trick.