Baby’s in Black by Bellstorf

Before the Beatles were the “Beatles” they were a club band playing in Germany in 1960. While playing one night Klaus hears them playing and the world changed.

Baby’s in Black
Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutclffe, and The Beatles
Written & Illustrated by Arne Bellstorf
First Second
April 2012

In the 1960’s there wasn’t anyone hotter than the Beatles. Their look. Their clothes. Their hair styles. Everything about them was different and enthralling. They are the original “it” guys. This book is sheds light on where the Beatles got “it.” Astrid Kirchherr.

Klaus was Astrid’s ex boyfriend and encouraged her to go with him to listen to the band. While the music was amazing, even more amazing to her was the bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. As the relationship grows between the Beatles, Astrid and Klaus, Astrid offers to take their pictures. (Those pictures can be found online at Beetle’s Source.) Along with the group pictures she focuses on ways to get Stuart alone and a romance blossoms.

Stuart, encouraged by Astrid, decides to pursue his love for art and enrolls at an art school and becomes a painter, leaving the Beatles for paintbrushes and love. Astrid and Stuart are soon engaged to be married. The Beatles are starting to heat up. Everything looks like it’s “it’s gonna be all right, all right, all right.” Then Stuart comes down with an illness he may not survive.

I’m not going to ruin the story for you if you don’t know it. Beatles’ fans may already know what happens, how Stuart is considered the fifth Beatle, how Astrid becomes a life long friend of the Beetles and how her photos of the band are some of their most iconic. I’m going to focus instead on the amazing work done by writer and artist Arne Bellstorf.

Look at the pictures above. The first is a photo of Astrid and Stuart from 1960 (from multiply.com via Zimbio). The second is from Bellstorf’s graphic novel. And check out the detail in the artwork depicting the iconic photos below (considered the first ever of the Beatles). Notice the work Bellstorf has done to capture the look and the history in his art. The attention to detail is outstanding.

The story is interspersed with Beatles lyrics fitted into the narrative to push the story forward. This is a love story primarily and it is clear that it’s a labor of love for Bellstorf. Fans of the Beatles and fans of great graphic novels will enjoy this book.

Highly recommended.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on Christianity, Zombies, and anything else he wants to.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

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