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Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles Hardcover – May 8 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; Reprint edition (May 8 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596437715
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596437715
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.3 x 22.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #395,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Bellstorf’s ability to capture the famous faces with a few simple tweaks is remarkable, and his expressive charcoals fit the whole artsy scene well." --Booklist

"The Beatles' story forms a backdrop to the compelling tale of Astrid and Stu, and although readers will doubtless enjoy glimpses of "the lads" (distinguishable mainly by noses, eyebrows, and John's snarky attitude), it's doomed young love that carries the day. The march of tidily boxed black ink and pencil pictures, most of which feature characters in conversation, is relieved by unframed reveries of the lovers wandering in the woods to a soundtrack of Beatles lyrics, foreshadowing their coming loss. Bellstorf will connect with a wide readership, from photography buffs to romance readers to classic rockers." --BCCB

About the Author

Arne Bellstorf was born in Dannenberg, Germany in 1979. Since 2006 he has been writing and illustrating a monthly comic page for a German newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel. Baby’s In Black garnered unprecedented success in the German market, finding fans from all walks of life. Arne Bellstorf lives in Hamburg, Germany.


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By Book Cupid TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Jan. 7 2013
Format: Hardcover
Reviewing someone's life should be considered a crime against humanity.

Think about it. We all have ups and downs, is it just to have someone who's never met us decide if those moments were entertaining???

I'll be the first to admit that Bellstorf did an amazing job drawing the pictures (the cover is totally bookylicious). Just that alone inspires me to read several more graphic novels. The problem isn't the illustrations but that he didn't dig deep enough.

Girl meets The Beatles, falls for a member of the band, who instantly falls for her. Yes, instant attraction happens. But not a single fight or disagreement -- c'mon! She enrolls him in painting classes without even asking him and all he can say is "Should I bring my portfolio?" No relationship is that peaceful. By not letting us see any of the characters on a bad day, it made the story a lot less emotional.

I kept asking myself ''Who was Stuart Sutcliffe?'', feeling like the odd one out while two friends spoke in code.
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By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 4 2012
Format: Hardcover
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).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Excellent biographical graphic novel of the Fab Four's early years May 8 2012
By DJ Joe Sixpack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
--------------------------------------------------------------------
"Baby's In Black: Astrid Kirchherr,
Stuart Sutcliffe, And The Beatles In Hamburg"
Written & Illustated by Arne Bellstorf
(First Second Books, 2012)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTE: mild spoilers below
--------------------------------------------------------------------
For most of the world, the early days of the Beatles are a potent, happy creation myth, full of youth and exuberance, the triumph of pop culture and the giddy camraderie of the witty Liverpudlian lads whose music swept the world and made rock'n'roll into an artform that adults embraced as well as kids. The mythic prelude where they apprenticed in the rough nightclubs of Hamburg, Germany is a well-known legend, too, of how art student Klaus Voormann saw an early lineup of the Beatles playing live and became a rock'n'roll convert. He brought his friend Astrid Kirchherr to see them the next night, and soon she produced early photos of the band that helped shape their image, and gave them advice on how to dress and style their hair, creating the unique "mop top" look of the Beatlemania days.

There was a dark side to this story, though: Kirchherr quickly fell in love with the group's bassist, Stu Sutcliffe, who was also a talented visual artist, and who chose to leave the band and stay in Germany to pursue "serious" art, even as the band began its meteoric rise to uber-mega-celebrity. This elegant, graceful graphic novel centers in on the love affair of Kirchherr and Sutcliffe, which ended in tragedy when he died of a brain hemmorage, the result of a months-long illness that was misdiagnosed by a German doctor. This book brings that story down to its most human, heartbreaking level -- the joy and wonder of seeing the Fab Four take off is part of the tale, but the crushing sorrow of Kirchherr's loss forms the coda.

An excellent comicbook that also makes the sketchy outlines of the "Beatles started in Germany" narrative come alive, with textures and detail that help readers understand the cultural tone of postwar Europe, particularly from a youthful perspective. Great stuff, good for Beatles fans and comic fans alike. Highly recommended. (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue book reviews)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great & Tragic Love Story of the Unknown Beatle Aug. 1 2012
By Nicola Mansfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful story. Art needs something. Nov. 1 2012
By Maria Beadnell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The love story of Stuart (Sutcliffe) and Astrid Kirchherr is really one of the most beautiful I have ever read.

Conveniently, it took place in the genesis of the Beatles. You've heard of them. And while I had heard that the early time in Hamburg was exciting and exhausting, it takes a graphic novel to really get the squalor (they had no bath and had to clean themselves as best they could in a public washroom) and the shear idiocy (George was only 17 and shouldn't have even been out past ten pm, much less working--and none of the band had work permits) of the emerging band. It is quite a lovely story, well told in most respects.

Drat it, though, there are problems. The beautiful, spare art is SO spare it is hard to keep the characters apart. (What is the difference between these two guys? Same outfit, same hairstyle, same eyes--oh, THERE it is! A subtle change in the bend in the nose.) It slows down the story when I don't know who is talking.

The German, while infrequently used, is not always translated, or is written sloppily: "Oh, Wie geht es ihn Mrs. Kirchher?" (MRS???)

But it is a beautiful tale, making me so sad for Stu's early death; whereas I had previously been sad he didn't stay with the band and live to be a Beatle, I now am sad for Astrid and because Stu did not live up to his enormous promise as an artist.

That is quite a lot for one little 200 page graphic novel to do.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I love it June 16 2012
By WilloWill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I was 21 I saw the movie Backbeat and became obsessed with the Stuart Sutcliffe story. I even moved to England because of it, cut my hair like Astrid's, copied her clothes and all, but I never made it to Hamburg and never found my version of Stuart.

Yes, pretty sad. Eighteen years later I am older, wiser and much more my own person, but there's still a special place in my heart for Astrid, Stu, Klaus, John and the gang.

I don't usually go for graphic novels but this was fun to read and really quite beautiful. The ending was a bit abrupt but in real life it probably was too. Apparently the book was written in close consultation with Astrid. Cool book about the world's coolest people.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Music and love May 8 2012
By Andy Shuping - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Astrid Kircherr is a young photographer in 1960 Germany, when her life is thrown for a loop. Through Klaus, her sometimes boyfriend, she is introduced to a new band from the UK that is performing at a local bar. The Beatles...before they were the Beatles. Astrid and their bassist Stuart Sutcliffe quickly fall in love. When the Beatles have to return to the UK, Stuart quits and stays behind. He picks up the paintbrush again and is quickly accepted as a rising star in the modern art world. He and Astrid, madly in love, are soon engaged. Their life seems absolutely perfect. And then...the unthinkable happens.

There's something special about this book. Not that it focuses on the Beatles, but because Arne crafts a tale of personal relationships and what makes them work. He makes it easy to relate to the characters, to sympathize with their struggles of communicating across language but being united by some of the things that make us who we are--music, art, hope, friendship, love. It sounds sappy I know, but I left the book feeling like I really knew the people that were introduced in the story, especially Astrid and Stuart. It's easy to see that Astrid and Stuart care about each other, even while struggling to communicate in different languages. I think one of my favorite parts is when a friend is asking Astrid how Stuart's German is coming and she says "he could speak old Siberian and I'd still be in love." My one minor grip, and this maybe due to differences in culture since the book was written in German, is that sometimes the transitions between stories are a bit rough. It seems like we jump scenes and times in a couple places, with no warning or no advanced knowledge, we only know that time has moved forward by comments the characters make, which is a bit different from what we see in typical American story telling. Once you get into the story though, its easy enough to recognize the pattern.

The artwork really reminds me a lot of David B's (author of Epileptic) and the type of style that he taught to his students, which includes Marjane Satrapi author of Persepolis. It's a very sparse line drawing that captures just the bare essence of the characters and surrounding world, yet is very evocative, especially in capturing the smoky essence of the bar. In just a few lines Arne captures the the characters and the emotion, the tenderness, the hope that the Astrid and Stuart felt for each other. I love how in some places the lines leave the panel, as if the energy being created by the characters is powerful enough to transcend the boxes that we may put them in. Some of the most powerful scenes are the ones right at the end, where Arne captures that feeling of being told bad news. Where people are speaking around you and you can't hear them.

I do want to make special mention of the fonts chosen, as it is something that folks are likely to notice. There are two different types, one hand drawn for the noises (such as ring) but a typewriter type font for the spoken word. While it might appear a bit different this is what the original looks like as well (at least based upon image searches that I was able to find) so it remains true in style to what Arne chose.

I really enjoyed this book and found that it made me want to know more about Stuart and Astrid's lives, before and after the events depicted in the book. I would highly recommend this book, not just to fans of the Beatles, but to people that enjoy a good biographical story. 5 out of 5 stars.

A review copy of this book was provided by Gina at FirstSecond.


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