Author Spreads Love with THE FIFTH BEATLE
Vivek J. Tiwary is wearing many hats these days. Not only is he a Broadway producer to a number of award-winning shows, but he’s also involved with several TV shows and movies currently in development, he is a sitting board member of Valiant Entertainment, and he’s the writer of his first graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle.
This writer met with Vivek last Friday at the Dark Horse booth during New York Comic Con. By chance I saw him, as well as artist Andrew Robinson, hours prior to our interview signing sample copies of The Fifth Beatle. All day he had been promoting, signing, and talking non-stop on this “labor of love,” as he puts it. One could hardly tell if he was at all overwhelmed; he beamed when given the chance to talk about his new graphic novel.
Epstein’s story became a huge business inspiration for me. He had a vision and, despite being the ultimate outsider, he chased his dream.
The Fifth Beatle is about Brian Epstein, the man who was instrumental in the legendary band’s rise to global fame. “It’s less a musical biopic and more a human interest story about an outcast that was Brian Epstein,” said Tiwary. Epstein was a homosexual, a status not widely known to the public during his lifetime save for his closest friends and business colleagues. Homosexual acts was still illegal in Liverpool back then, so of course being gay was very looked down upon. “On top of that,” added Vivek, “no one cared about a band coming out of Liverpool. It was a port town, and that’s all everyone anywhere saw it as…. Epstein’s story became a huge business inspiration for me. He had a vision and, despite being the ultimate outsider, he chased his dream.”
A lot of the story takes place in 1961 until his death in 1967. “There are a lot of dream sequences [in The Fifth Beatle],” said Vivek on the book’s art direction. “I wanted to convey what the times looked and felt like in [Epstein’s] world…. I like to think that because of Brian and The Beatles, there was this whole cultural movement leading up to the 70s. You’ll notice in the book that as time goes on, the color scheme shifts from an almost dark gray scale to full-blown technicolor.”
Andrew C. Robinson is the main artist for The Fifth Beatle. “I was introduced to Mark Irwin, who is Andrew Robinson’s agent,” Vivek said,”Mark knew I was looking for an artist, and he immediately referred me to Andrew.”
I was already familiar with [Andrew’s] work, and it blows me away every time. It just speaks for itself…. I worked very closely with Andrew. I would have specific scenes in my head; I knew what color scheme to use, which camera angle I wanted, and he was able to transfer all of that onto paper beautifully. There were other times, however, where I just didn’t know what to do. I just would give Andrew the scene, and couple notes, and say, “Have at it.” What came from that was just spectacular.
Most of the art in The Fifth Beatle is done by Robinson, but there’s a seven-page insert towards the end of the book illustrated by cartoonist Kyle Baker. The insert takes place when the band went to the Philippines. They accidentally snubbed Imelda Marcos, wife of Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos, when invited to a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace. As a result, the band was quite literally run out of the country. “[This event] felt like a time in the band’s life that was very cartoony. We did it in honor of the old Beatles cartoons, and Kyle does a great job that tips its hat to those old cartoons,” said Vivek.
Not only will we get to see The Fifth Beatle in graphic novel form, but pretty soon we’ll see it on the silver screen as well. Vivek is not only co-producing the film, but he has also written the screenplay. “Obviously there are going to be some differences in movie. There are scenes in the book that won’t be in the film, and there are scenes in the film that won’t be in the book. There are just some scenes in the book that just won’t work in the movie, and vice versa.” He opened the book, which he had ready on the table and flipped to a page where Epstein is standing a alone amidst of a collage of color. “He’s throwing a party for the Sgt. Pepper’s album release. He had been taking drugs at the time, so the imagery comes off as a bit hallucinatory to illustrate his state of mind. If we did it like this in the movie, it would just look odd and out of place. That’s just one of the examples.”
Another item of note is that The Fifth Beatle, the movie, will feature a wide variety of songs from the Beatles. Yes, Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia [Harrison] all approved the script and let Vivek have the music rights. “We’re the first Beatles film in history to have gotten total approval to the music rights,” said Vivek, smiling widely, “I’m very proud of that.”
Joining Vivek in producing the movie is Bruce Cohen, credited for producing outstanding movies like Milk and Silver Lining’s Playbook, among others. No word yet on who will direct the movie, nor who they have in mind to take on the characters. “It’s still very early, especially as far as actors go. We very much want our director, once we find one, to be involved in the choosing of our actors. This is very much a passion project for all of us…we want to get this one right.”
The graphic novel will officially release on November 19 in three different forms. First there is the standard version for $14.99, then there will be a Collector’s Edition in hardback, $49.99, which features extra artwork from Andrew Robinson in the back. Finally, there will be a Limited Edition for $99.99 which comes in a sturdy sleeve. This particular edition is also signed by Vivek and Andrew; only 1500 will be released. You can pre-order the Collector’s and the Limited editions now on Amazon.
As a special treat, below is a small preview of The Fifth Beatle.