GRAPHIC NOVELS

Paul Is Dead: When the Beatles Lost McCartney

Image. May 2020. 128p. ISBN 9781534316294. pap. $16.99. Rated: Teen+. historical fiction
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It’s London, 1966, when Beatles manager Brian Epstein summons John Lennon to a meeting. Lennon assumes the purpose is to discuss recent tensions between he and fellow bandmate Paul McCartney. Instead, Epstein announces that Paul is presumed dead following a car accident the night before. Lennon isn’t convinced—there’s no body, and the details of the accident are mysteriously vague—and enlists Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr to launch an investigation of their own. Writer Baron (Lazzaro) offers tender characterizations of each musician, and a compelling examination of the tricky dynamics among the four at the height of their success. Carbonetti’s (Lazzaro) illustrations provide depictions of John, Paul, George, and Ringo that shift seamlessly between spot-on portraits and exaggerated caricature depending on the emotional content expressed in a given scene, creating a loose, slightly queasy, playfully psychedelic tone evocative of the art of Bill Sienkiewicz.
VERDICT Overall, an interesting examination of the events surrounding one of the strangest conspiracy theories in the history of popular culture. Yet ultimately, the work is slight and anticlimactic owing to an unsuccessful twist ending. [Previewed in Douglas Rednour’s “Picture This,” LJ 4/20.]

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