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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Art, Music, Germany, and the Beatles

So last week I read Arne Bellstor's new graphic novel Baby's in Black:  Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles, (2012).  The book looks at a chapter from the early days of the Beatles.  In those days, John, Paul, and George were playing in Germany to great acclaim along with their bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe.  The story mostly concerns Stuart's romance with a young german photographer named Astrid Kirchherr who is quite taken with the Beatles.  When german authorities discover that George is underage and the Beatles decide to return to England at least for a time, Stuart decides to remain in Germany to be with Astrid.  Their romance deepens and Stuart begins to see success in his art career.  At the same time, though, he begins to develop a strange debilitating illness.

This book is unlikely to become anyone's favorite graphic novel ever, but for high school teachers of Art, Music, and History, it could be a good resource to add to their classroom library. (I sort of wish the book had more to say about the Beatle's music and about Astrid and Stuart's art, but it does present the whole story fairly quickly and might lead students to want to check out some other sources.) 

Although it is implied that Astrid and Stuart sleep together, there are no explicit scenes that might cause trouble with parents.  True to the time period, though, everybody in this book is smoking a cigarette all the time.  I certainly wouldn't want this sanitized out of the panels, but readers will likely be struck by the ubiquity of the smoking.


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