To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the animated film of the same name, comics and animation veteran Morrison (DC Meets Looney Tunes, 2018, etc.) presents a graphic novel adaptation of the Beatles’ psychedelic journey to a utopia under siege by belligerent “Blue Meanies.”
Pepperland is a paradise of lovely, positive people, Technicolor foliage, and musical appreciation. That appreciation isn’t shared by the Blue Meanies, a collection of maniacal, six-fingered humanoids with bodies like storm clouds and boots made for stomping. The Meanies, along with an assortment of nightmarish henchmen, launch an assault on Pepperland, silencing the music and rendering the citizenry frozen statues. One man escapes into the titular yellow submarine (Pepperland is at the bottom of the ocean, though the physics of that never come into play) and recruits musicians John, Paul, George, and Ringo to help! As they descend the depths, the group encounters a boxing tyrannosaur, meets a squirrely genius “nowhere man” and wrestles with time itself. But plot is secondary in this mind-bending adventure, where striking imagery and unbridled imagination deliver a treat on each page. The book faithfully follows the original film, from the iconic designs by Heinz Edelmann to plot points and cheeky wordplay (though some beats don’t land as well removed from the animation, feeling a bit rushed and working more as homages than standing on their own). If anything, the graphic novel has a more robust look than the film, thanks in large part to colorist Nathan Kane. Here, functional narration replaces the film’s musical numbers, though the lyrical quality of the proceedings is beautifully retained by Morrison’s inspired paneling, where right angles are rare, favoring instead swooshes and circles and pages broken up by large, dazzling characters and ornate frames.
A gorgeous tribute to a classic work of pop art.