Sunday, April 22, 2012
Baby's in Black Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles in Hamburg
by Arne Bellstorf
First Second, May 8th
Though this is a graphic featuring the Beatles, it is primarily a love story, that of Astrid Kirchherr, a young photographer who discovered The Beatles in a basement club and fell in love with their bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe. Ballstorf captures Astrid's story and The Beatles' early difficulties while hinting at the post-Beatles life Stuart might have had. A glimpse at the beginnings of cultural icons, and an important period of history, Baby's in Black is ultimately the bittersweet tale of a real-life romance.
Bellstorf's black and white illustrations are gorgeous. Black pencil gives his ink lines work tone, texture, and depth. The narrative is occasionally broken by sequences of lyrics from Beatles' songs. For these moments, Bellstorf uses only ink in his frame-less panels and his pale, colorless trees create a dream scape through which Start and Astrid wander,searching for one another. These sequences provide a break from the narrative, a literal expression of someone losing his- or her-self in song or emotion.