“Hey, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”: The Fifth Beatle

This post was originally published in the “Elkhart Truth” in August 2014. I thought it was a good time to resurrect it, because “Yesterday” is about to disappear from theaters. It’s a beautiful and brilliant film whether or not you know the Beatles’s music well, and it’s definitely worth catching on the big screen before it disappears.

“The Fifth Beatle,” written by Vivek Tiwary and illustrated by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker is not a book about The Beatles themselves—plenty of those have been published, and plenty more are surely on the way. Neither is this book about the person usually referred to as the fifth Beatle: Pete Best, the drummer who preceded Ringo Starr.

The book’s title instead comes from a 1999 quote by Paul McCartney: “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” Brian Epstein was the manager—and some would argue the “designer”—of the Beatles, the man who transformed a witty and talented but ragged band into the polished, worldwide zeitgeist we remember them as today. Continue reading ““Hey, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”: The Fifth Beatle”

Redeeming Monsters: “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters,” by Emil Ferris

“My Favorite Thing Is Monsters,” by Emil Ferris. Fantagraphics, February 2017. 386 pp. Paper, $39.99. Adult.

Chicago comics artist Emil Ferris deems “monster” an “honorable title. It represents struggle and wisdom bought at a high, painful price. . . . I make a distinction between good monsters―those that can’t help being different―and rotten monsters,” she told “The Comics Journal” in 2017, when her multiple award-winning masterpiece “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters” was initially released. How do you define a “rotten monster”? “[T]hose people whose behavior is designed around objectives of control and subjugation.”

This gorgeous and complicated book teems with monsters, both good and rotten. Among the good monsters are the protagonist Karen, an elementary school student who portrays herself as a werewolf detective, with surprisingly luxurious eyelashes,

Franklin, her gay black friend,

and Deeze, her wise but troubled older brother, who teaches her how to see and appreciate art, how to draw, and especially, how to “draw [her] way through” difficult events and emotions—like the overt racism of 1960s Chicago:

Continue reading “Redeeming Monsters: “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters,” by Emil Ferris”

“March: Book Three,” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Re-posted from February 2018, in honor of MLK Jr. Day tomorrow. See links below for reviews of Book One and Book Two. If you haven’t read any of these yet, look for the Top Shelf boxed set of the whole trilogy.

“March: Book Three,” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. 192 pages, Top Shelf Productions, Aug. 2016. Paperback, $19.99, 8th grade and up.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find all of these books at the store.

U.S. Representative John Lewis, who narrates the conclusion of his civil rights journey in “March: Book Three,” has been arrested at least 45 times, most recently in a 2013 rally for immigration rights. As one of the founders of the Civil Rights Movement and the last surviving speaker of the 1963 March on Washington—which culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech—Lewis remains an advocate for getting in trouble. He calls this type of trouble “necessary trouble,” imperative when something in society is “not right, not fair, not just.” Continue reading ““March: Book Three,” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell”