Comics: Yellow Submarine (2018) - Reviewed

In 1968, a year after the release of The Beatles genre defining album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, MGM and United Artists decided to capitalize on its success and released the animated cult classic, Yellow Submarine, onto the world and the world was never the same. Yellow Submarine was not only an extension of The Beatles current image at that time, but was also a breathtakingly well animated film thats influence is still felt even today. Classic songs were repurposed into gorgeous animated numbers that tell a story unlike anything made by mainstream animators at that time. Music and illustration beautifully collided together to make a distinct and loving time capsule into The Beatles and the Summer of Love era that they lived in at that time. 

Now fifty some years later, Titan Comics and Brian Morrison invite us back into the trippy and colorful world of Yellow Submarine in this authorized graphic novel adaptation. Morrison and his team have a crafted a graphic novel that serves not only as an adaptation but as a labor of love. Every panel of this graphic novel is a love letter to Yellow Submarine, a film that you can tell had a profound influence on the creative team of this adaptation. 

Following the plot of the film, Yellow Submarine is a faithful adaptation in look and feel. The music-loving, underwater paradise of Pepperland has been overrun by the music-hating Blue Meanies and their leader, Chief Blue Meanie. They turn the people of Pepperland into living statues by dropping apples on them and imprison the Pepperland's guardians, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band inside a soundproof blue glass globe, before confiscating all the music instruments in the land. Pepperland's mayor sends aging sailor, Young Fred out in the fabled Yellow Submarine to find help. He travels to our world where he stumbles across the Beatles and begs them to help him free his world. They agree and head back to Pepperland, teaming up with Jeremy The Nowhere Man along the way to help overthrow the evil Blue Meanies through the power of music and love.

What Morrison and his team have done with this graphic novel is astounding. It feels like we are looking at the storyboarded versions of the movie. That is just how faithful to the aesthetic of Yellow Submarine this graphic novel is. It is a well made tribute to one of the world’s greatest bands and had me captivated for the entire read. It is a strange, trippy, and delightful read, much like how the film is a strange, trippy, and delightful watch. As I was reading this adaptation, I felt the desire to revisit Yellow Submarine build up inside of me. The visuals and colors are amazing, taking me back to the first time I saw Yellow Submarine as a kid. Once you finish reading this novel, I think you will feel the same. If you are a die hard or casual Beatles fan, this is a graphic novel that should be on your radar. 

--Liam S. O'Connor